A little boy died by drowning in a swimming pool at a vacant home, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Oct. 12. Isaac Dieudonne, 2, apparently wandered into the back yard of the home next door to his family’s late on Oct. 11. A relative called the police at 7:40 p.m. to report the boy missing, but soon after, he was found in the pool. A door in the fence of the home’s back yard was open, as was a door in a screen surrounding the pool. Paramedics took Isaac to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, but he was pronounced dead at around 8:30 p.m. the same night. Law enforcement is investigating whether anyone should be criminally charged in the case.
As a Fort Lauderdale premises liability lawyer, I can’t help wondering who was responsible for the upkeep of this vacant home. If the home had been foreclosed, as so many in South Florida unfortunately have been, it is most likely a bank-owned property. That would mean the bank itself was responsible for the home’s upkeep — and therefore, for creating the conditions that led to the little boy’s death. That would be true even if vandals had opened the gates, as long as the bank or its agent had a reasonable amount of time to fix the problem. In that sense, Isaac Dieudonne may be an indirect victim of the recession. Of course, none of this addresses the issue of whether the adults watching him may also have been negligent, but this would not remove liability for the property’s owner; it may simply reduce the damages in any lawsuit.
Under Florida premises liability law, owners and operators of properties have a legal responsibility to maintain them safely for visitors. That duty includes a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable hazards, including hazards that might cause an accident, like puddles of oil, as well as foreseeable violent crimes. Because these cases are frequently called “slip and fall” cases, they may seem like minor matters — but as you can see from this article, premises liability cases can and do involve wrongful deaths and catastrophic injuries. Most commonly, our Miami Gardens premises liability attorneys handle cases involving injuries in public places, such as stores and restaurants. However, government agencies and owners of private homes are also liable, as long as the injured person was not trespassing.
At Cohn, Smith & Cohn, we have more than three decades of experience fighting for the rights of people who were seriously injured by circumstances beyond their control. We have successfully represented people with all types of serious injuries, including wrongful deaths and permanent disabilities to children and minors. These injuries are physically and emotionally devastating, often requiring radical changes in the lives of victims and family members. Unfortunately, in many cases, they also have a catastrophic effect on the victims’ financial health, generating five or six figures in medical costs and sometimes taking victims out of work. Our Lauderhill premises liability lawyers help victims and families recover those costs and secure compensation for their non-financial but very real physical and emotional injuries.
If you or a loved one was seriously hurt by a foreseeable danger on someone else’s property and you’d like to learn more, you should call Cohn, Smith & Cohn for help. To set up a free, confidential consultation, please contact us through our Web site or call our main office in Hollywood/Pembroke Pines at (954) 431-8100 today.