The parents of a toddler who drowned in a retention pond earlier this year have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of the property, alleging negligence for failure to install a fence that would have protected their son and prevented his drowning.
A Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorney can explain that these types of cases are what we refer to as premises liability claims. They posit that a property owner owed a duty of care to those who entered that site, failed in that duty and injury or wrongful death ensued.
Normally, this duty of care extends only to lawful guests, which means if someone trespasses on a property, they aren’t owed much of anything (except that the property owner not actively try to hurt them by setting traps, etc.). But this type of case involves a special kind of premises liability claim under what’s known as the attractive nuisance doctrine.
Essentially, F.S. 768.075 holds that landowners generally owe no duty to trespassers under most conditions. One exception is where it pertains to young children if there is a feature on the property likely to attract children, such as a swimming pool or pond. F.S. 823.08 also outlines a number of potential attractive nuisances, such as abandoned iceboxes, clothes dryers and other similar airtight objects in which children might want to play, but would be extremely dangerous.
Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Child Drowning
The case in question out of Baker County (just outside of Jacksonville) involves a 2-year-old who drowned in a retention pond in April. His 18-year-old sister was babysitting him while his parents were at work. He wandered away from the apartment. He was found a short time later in the pond, and could not be revived, and died just days before turning 3.
According to the wrongful death lawsuit, defendant property owner lacked proper fencing, as required according to building permits. The owner first applied for the permit to build the retention pond (used for stormwater treatment) roughly three years ago. The property was intended for use as a storage facility. The original plans for that site included a 6-foot fence with a self-latching gate that would encircle the pond. A permit for construction was issued back in 2016. The retention pond was completed the following year, but the fence – as detailed in the construction plans – was never built.
Plaintiffs say many children live in the neighborhood, which made the property owner’s decision never to install a fence all the more egregious.
The owner did tell local news outlets that he planned to install a fence surrounding the pond, but that the plan had not yet come to fruition.
In the lawsuit filed by the family, they allege the corporation constructed the pond with a slope that was unreasonably dangerous and failed to provide any signage that warned of the depth of the pond. They further allege the property owner was aware or should have been aware that this body of water with no protective barrier posed a serious public health and safety risk to nearby small children and that the failure to build the pond according to permit specifications resulted in the young boy’s death.
Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorneys know similar claims have been won against other property owners whose pools and ponds fail to meet certain specification criteria.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Parents of 2-year-old who drowned in pond file wrongful death lawsuit, May 8, 2019, News4Jax.com
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Florida Injury Lawsuit Tort Reform Bill Would Cap Pain & Suffering Damages, April 8, 2019, Fort Lauderdale Wrongful Death Attorney Blog