Cowen Edwards Trial Lawyers represents families after tragic drowning incidents in rivers and lakes in the Fort Lauderdale area. Families need to know about the support that’s available if a property owner, a business, or the City of Fort Lauderdale contributed to the danger that caused the loss of life. Our Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyers offer free consultations to grieving families. Please contact our offices to talk about your options in a confidential case review.
Do I Need a Lawyer After Losing Someone in a Lake Drowning?
If the actions of lake owners or operators lead to the loss of a loved one to drowning, families have the right to seek support through a wrongful death claim. However, insurance companies won’t make it easy to collect the support the family may need to pay funeral costs and other damages. A large business or the City of Fort Lauderdale will also have the money to pay teams of lawyers to avoid having to accept blame.
Grieving families can seek help from a Fort Lauderdale Drowning Accident Lawyer to protect their interests. A skilled lawyer at Cowen Edwards investigates what happened and gathers the evidence necessary to hold an at-fault party fully responsible. Our lawyers also fight to get the most support possible for families who will need to protect themselves financially, now and in the years ahead.
Lake Drowning Dangers Around Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale has so many great beaches along the ocean that people can forget about the rivers and hundreds of lakes in the area. Swimmers can paddle out on Lake Sylvia and perhaps on unofficial swimming holes along the New River.
Property owners and operators of waterfront locations owe visitors and even unauthorized guests a “duty of care.” Everything possible must be done to protect swimmers and waders venturing out on natural bodies of water. Everything possible must be done to keep swimmers, especially unpredictable children, out of lakes that are dangerous and off-limits for swimming.
Signs might be in place to warn swimmers of hazards, but we all know that curious children can ignore signs on their way to an enticing body of water. They may not even be able to read the sign in the first place. It’s why the owners of local private lakes could be liable if someone is able to reach a lake and suffers injury or a tragic death while swimming.
These are just a few of the acts of negligence that could leave a lake owner, a business owner, or the City Parks Department liable for a drowning:
- A lack of warning signs around lakes
- A lack of barriers around a hazardous stretch of water
- The absence of lifeguards or not enough lifeguards
- The improper training of lifeguards and other staff members
- Lack of CPR training for staff members
- A lack of warning about dangerous conditions such as sudden depth changes
- Improper supervision that allows impaired boaters on the water
- Failure to protect swimmers or warn swimmers about water sports activities like water skiers and jet skis
- A lack of safety equipment or inadequate equipment
Florida even has laws about how steep slopes into man-made ponds can be. They have to be a more gradual grade to make it less likely that people will tumble down embankments and into the water to drown. When property owners ignore these types of legal requirements and someone drowns, owners can be held liable for the pain and suffering and the financial turmoil created for the family left behind.
Who Can I Sue After Losing a Loved One in a Lake Drowning?
You and your family can file a lawsuit against anyone or any business that contributed to the danger that claimed your loved one’s life.
It usually comes down to who owns the land the lake sits on or who operates a business utilizing the lake. In some cases, boat charter and fishing charter businesses can be held accountable when customers end up in the water and drown.
These are just a few of the parties that could be legally responsible for a lake drowning:
- The property owner
- The business owner, e.g., a waterpark or resort owner
- The City of Fort Lauderdale
- A community association responsible for a lake in a housing community
Keep in mind that if a City of Fort Lauderdale Department or another state agency contributed to a drowning, you may have to act fast. Government agencies enjoy certain legal protections. That includes a shorter statute of limitations for victims on how long they can wait to file claims.
Families who lose a loved one in a drowning usually have a two-year window to file a wrongful death claim in Florida. But families forced to file a claim against the city may only have months to file. Then, in some cases, the city would be able to decide if your family could file a claim or not. A Fort Lauderdale lake drowning lawyer can help you meet any deadline and ensure that your family gets the support needed to avoid financial turmoil.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim After a Lake Drowning?
Florida requires an executor, also known as a “personal representative,” who represents the estate of the victim to file a wrongful death claim. The executor is usually named in the drowning victim’s will. If an executor is not named, the court will usually name a close family member as a representative.
The executor represents the rest of the family. This person is usually the spouse of the victim or a child of the victim. Those who have the first right to seek support are:
- Spouse of the victim
- Children of the victim
- Parents of the victim
Others who can show they were financially reliant on the victim could also seek compensation, but only after the primary beneficiaries had filed a claim.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if the drowning victim was partially to blame for what happened?
Victims may have been swimming in a restricted area, but that doesn’t mean the property owner is off the hook. In Florida, a victim and a property owner can each share a percentage of blame. The victim may be assigned some fault, but the family could still receive compensation based on the other party’s percentage of liability.
What if my family can’t afford a Fort Lauderdale Drowning Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Your family won’t need any upfront money to hire a skilled wrongful death lawyer. Cowen Edwards Trial Lawyers doesn’t get paid unless we win your case for your family. Then our fee comes out of the settlement or judgment your family is awarded.
What can my family receive support for after a drowning?
Families should seek help with all funeral costs and any remaining medical bills. Loved ones can earn support for the emotional trauma they are subjected to. The income the deceased would have continued to support the family with in the future should result in additional support.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Lake Drowning Lawyer
Losing a loved one in a drowning will leave you and your family devastated and feeling very vulnerable. At a time when your family should be allowed to grieve a loved one, they may have to take action to hold an at-fault party responsible and to protect their futures.
When individuals or businesses contribute to the factors that lead to a drowning at a public or private lake, a wrongful death claim may be necessary. To find out the level of support your family should seek, contact the Fort Lauderdale Drowning Accident Lawyers at Cowen Edwards Trial Lawyers. We offer a free, confidential case review for all Florida families who have lost a loved one. There’s no obligation for this initial consultation.
If you trust your case to us, our law firm will directly handle the behind-the-scenes investigation and legal work, from start to finish, while you and your family focus on what’s most important, each other.