Summer in South Georgia may last longer than it does in other regions of the United States, but we're not complaining (unless, of course, it’s still 95 degrees in early September, and our favorite college football team has a noon game!) Even with three-digit temps, the summer months are certainly something most people look forward to – boats, barbeques, and beverages have us yearning for those long hot days and sticky summer nights.
Longer days offer more time to spend time with family and friends doing the things we enjoy. But Whitehurst, Blackburn & Warren attorney Joe Cargile reminds us to be safe and exercise extra caution during the summer months, a time when personal injury claims tend to increase. In 2019, 3,600 deaths in the United States were due to drowning, a number that's heavily skewed toward the summer.
Water skiing, riding four-wheelers, and enjoying the pool are all fun activities we love, but they can be extra wet and slippery, too. Add alcohol to this mix, and the chances of injury increase even more.
Here’s a reminder of some places to exercise extra caution this summer:
Lakes or rivers where you likely engage in boating and water sports
Pools or any body of water
Activities that involve alcohol
Vacation rentals and condos
The dangers of injuring yourself while engaging in boating or water sports are a bit more obvious, but what do you do if you sustain an injury at a vacation rental, condo, or other piece of property that doesn’t belong to you? Cargile outlines a few pieces of advice you should consider.
Know where you are. “Knowing the address, nearest hospital, property owner’s name, and contact information allows to you react in a quick and informed way,” Cargile explains.
Document injuries immediately. If you are on someone else’s property and an accident happens, take a picture of where the incident occurred.
“You might think you’re ok, but what if you come back home and your back, or shoulder, or other body part starts to hurt? If you go to the hospital and find out the injury caused serious harm, what are you going to do? It’s incredibly difficult to go back to the spot of the accident and take pictures of your claim – especially with the same conditions as when the accident occurred,” he expounds.
Also keep in mind that not everyone has the same insurance. Even if you are on a friend’s boat or at a rental property, that person might not have comprehensive insurance coverage.
Know your legal rights. If you are involved in a personal injury case while vacationing in another country, or while on a cruise ship, it may still be possible to file a lawsuit in the United States. You should follow the same guidance as you would in the US – seeking medical attention if necessary, taking photographs, etc. – and then seek legal advice from your attorney in the States.
Do your homework. Although we’re all guilty of skipping to the last page of a lengthy document and signing on the dotted line, it’s important to read the waivers provided to you. For example, if you’re handed a release form before parasailing at the beach “a good rule of thumb is to know what you’re signing. Look at it a minute. Maybe not line by line, but do be aware of what it is you are actually agreeing to. Because a signed liability waiver will be a big battle before getting into court,” Cargile says.
Additionally, when sending your kids to camp, do your homework. Be sure the camp is licensed and insured, and investigate a bit to make sure the counselors are qualified to supervise children. Make sure the camp understands the limitations of your children. If the camp doesn’t seem prepared to protect your child from harm, consider your options.
There is danger everywhere. And while the summer months are fun, accidents do happen. By keeping these practices in mind, you may be more prepared if you do have to meet with an attorney to discuss a personal injury claim. If you find yourself hurt this summer and need legal guidance, call us at WBW.