On-the-Job Death: Who is Responsible for this Drowning?

What has been called a freak accident at an apartment complex in Venice on Florida’s West Coast several weeks ago involving a landscaper and a lawn mower ended with an on-the-job death when the landscaper drowned in a lake after he was trapped underneath the lawn mower.  The details of how exactly the accident occurred still are not quite clear, although police are treating the incident for the time being as an accidental drowning death.  However, the incident also raises the very real possibility that there may have been negligence on the part of other parties in connection with the landscaper’s death, including the apartment complex and his own employer.  This tragedy is an excellent illustration of how incidents involving death or serious injuries that may appear to be “freak accidents” or open and shut are anything but upon closer inspection.  In such cases, it may turn out that multiple parties were negligent in different ways, and this negligence directly resulted in the individual’s serious injuries or death.  In such circumstances, it is important to have experienced, aggressive Florida personal injury attorneys that will not take what appears to be obvious at first at face value and instead will dig deeper to determine what exactly caused an individual’s serious injuries or death and to seek those who were negligent responsible for that death.

The Venice Drowning

According to a report from ABC Action News regarding the incident, the landscaper was found trapped underneath the mower in approximately four feet of water by first responders who were initially called to the scene for reports of a sinking vehicle in the apartment complex’s lake. His co-workers first had found the lawnmower submerged in the water but did not look for their co-worker because they had assumed that he had made it out before the lawnmower ended up in the water. However, after police and fire rescue officials responding to the call went into the lake to pull the lawnmower out of the water, they found the landscaper trapped underneath it.

Officials from the local police department say the victim got too close to the inclined edge of the lake while operating the mower, causing it to flip on top of him and end up in the water. Police and fire rescue attempted CPR on the victim but were unable to resuscitate him.  He was then taken to a nearby hospital, but efforts to revive him there also failed.  Police have ruled the death as an accidental drowning death for the time being, but their investigation is continuing.

Negligence and Injuries and Wrongful Deaths on the Job in Florida

The landscaper’s recent drowning in Venice raises a number of issues as to who may have been involved in or should be held legally responsible for the worker’s death. On-the-job death or injuries that at first blush may seem to be the type that would be covered by Florida’s worker’s compensation laws often can end up being quite the opposite. On-the-job death and accidents are normally covered under the worker’s compensation laws in Florida. The typical scenario that most people think of involving worker’s compensation would involve a construction worker who was hit by a piece of falling debris on a job site or who suffers a back injury due to overuse in picking up something heavy on the job.  However, sometimes on-the-job death like the landscaper’s drowning in Venice may involve the negligence and/or actions of multiple parties that could and should be held legally responsible. “Freak accidents” like this often may not be a random freak accident at all, but may instead be the result of negligence by multiple parties.

In this case, and although the police are currently treating the landscaper’s death as an accidental drowning, a number of questions remain regarding the circumstances that ultimately resulted in his death.  To begin with, the lake at the apartment complex at which he drowned was four feet in depth and there was also an incline leading to the lake’s edge. However, there was no fence or barrier of any sort surrounding the lake according to media reports.  These facts beg the question as to why the apartment complex had not installed some sort of fence or barrier around the lake.  If it was not the landscaper ending up in the water, it is certainly foreseeable that an infant or toddler may have wandered away from his or her parent and ended up in the lake.  This is particularly true in an apartment complex, where young parents with young children may be more likely to live while they are saving for a down payment on a house.

There is also an issue as it relates to the landscaper’s employer and whether the employer may also have been partially responsible for the landscaper’s death.  Specifically, the important questions related to his employer would include the training that it had provided to the now- deceased landscaper regarding the operation of the zero-turn lawnmower he was operating at the time of his death and, in particular, how to operate that equipment around water.  If it turns out that the employer provided no or insufficient training, then it very well may be liable to the landscaper’s estate and his survivors for its own negligence in connection with the landscaper’s death.

Contact Schwed Adams & McGinley

Difficult cases often require creative attorneys that are unafraid to question the obvious, dig a little deeper and think outside the box.  Over their more than 150 years of combined legal experience, the Florida personal injury attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley have a long history of doing just that in order to ensure that our clients receive maximum compensation for their injuries, including on-the-job accidents.  If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, then call our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation regarding your situation at 877-694-6079 or email us at contact@schwedlawfirm.com.