Lawsuit Filed After 13-Year-Old Child Dies In Swimming Pool
A Houston family has filed a lawsuit against an apartment complex and the management companies responsible for the pool after their 13-year-old son drowned. The child did not have authorized access to the swimming pool, but there was a gaping hole in the fencing surrounding the pool that allowed kids to access it even when there were no lifeguards on duty. The 13-year-old was born with a developmental disability and could not swim, according to the parents.
Trespassing and premises liability
Unless a property owner set up a McGuyver-like trap on their own property, it is very difficult to win a premises liability lawsuit as a trespasser. That’s because the trespasser owes the property owner almost no duty of care. On the other hand, not all trespassers are made equally. Children especially are afforded extra protection under the law. These suits are known as “attractive nuisance” lawsuits.
An attractive nuisance is very often a swimming pool that attracts teenagers and adolescents who are out exploring. The property owner is expected to secure the location, especially if it is potentially dangerous, regardless of whether or not anyone is authorized to use it. That’s because kids, who are just out exploring or bored, will access the attractive nuisance and potentially injure themselves. When they do, the property owner is responsible. It should be noted that attractive nuisance lawsuits only apply to kids. Adults should know better than to access a pool without a lifeguard at night.
Elements of negligence
In this case, the plaintiffs will allege that the company’s failure to fix the fence resulted in this young man’s death. The fence was easily accessible to children, a child died, and now the Homeowner’s Association and two maintenance companies responsible for repairing the damage should be held accountable, even though the victim did not have authorized access to the premises. These are one of the few lawsuits that can be filed on a theory of premises liability in which the plaintiff does not have authorized access to the premises.
Nonetheless, this is exactly the kind of allegation that leads to a verdict against negligent property owners. If it wasn’t a young man with developmental disabilities, it could have been a small child who wandered away from their parents.
It is unclear how the thirteen-year-old boy got away from his parents, but you can expect the defendants to discuss the parents’ negligence as part of the lawsuit. How did the child get off his property? Why didn’t his parents know where he was?
The problem for the defendant is the fact that, if it wasn’t this boy that drowned in the pool, it would have inevitably been another. They simply waited for someone to die before fixing a problem that was legally their responsibility.
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If you’ve lost a loved one or yourself been injured due to the negligence of another party, call the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.