At approximately 3:33pm Sunday, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue units were called to Harbourside Place after receiving reports of a drowning. Upon arriving, responders found eight people that needed to be evaluated for injuries, and that more may have received an electrical shock while in the water at the fountain area.
Victim dies after being taken to hospital
Investigators confirmed that the person who was electrocuted was treated at the scene and taken to a local hospital where they later died. According to authorities, no event like this has happened at Harbourside Place which has been open for nine years.
On Monday, Jupiter police were back at the scene continuing their investigation. Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Captain Tom Reyes said authorities are working to put all the pieces together. “Evidently someone had gone into the water and started having some distress. Some other people went in and tried to remove them from the water and it appears there may have been an electrocution in the water itself.”
A Jupiter town official said the fountain has lights in it, but it’s not clear why there would have been an electric current in the water. He also said the fountain was drained to make it easier for authorities to investigate. Jupiter police, the town’s Building Department, Harbourside Place, and Florida Power and Light are all involved in the investigation. The names and ages of the victims have not been released.
What Could have Happened?
FPL declined to discuss how the electrical problem happened, citing the ongoing investigation. But, Harbourside Place CEO Nick Mastroianni released a statement saying, “This is a tragedy. Our focus in on the people involved and their families. We ask the community to join us in praying for them.”
Duty Owed to Visitors and Customers by Property Owners
Property owners in Florida must take steps to ensure the safety of anyone who has a right to be on their premise. Unfortunately, individuals do sustain injuries caused by the negligent actions of property owners. A property owner may be liable for an electric shock injury if the victim can prove that it was caused by the defendant’s negligence. Reasons for an electrocution or electric shock can include:
- Poor or negligent wiring issues
- Overused circuits
- Open circuit electricity
- Damaged electrical cords
To establish liability in a premises liability claim/electrocution lawsuit, it must be proven that the victim was on the property legally and that the property owner breached the duty of care the individual was owned. The victim must also prove that injuries/damages resulted.
Why the Victims in this situation may have cases for Personal Injury/Wrongful Death Claims
When asked why the victims in the Harbourside Place electrical accident may have legitimate cases for personal injury and wrongful death claims, GOLDLAW’s Chief Legal Officer Spencer Kuvin provided valuable insight.
“Areas such as fountains, especially when a property knows that children use it to play in, are called an ‘attractive nuisance’ under the law. Even if a person is not supposed to be in that area, the law holds the property owner responsible because of the heightened standard we have as a society to protect children from dangers.”
Kuvin also says the dangers posed by electricity are of an even greater concern.
“There should never be a reason that an electrical current, strong enough to kill or injure a person, should be running through a public fountain. The investigation being conducted should focus on the root cause of the short and determine whether any recent electrical work had been performed. Any electrical contractor, and ultimately the property owner, should be held responsible for injuries and the death caused by this tragedy.”
If you or someone you love has been injured due to the negligence of a property owner in the West Palm Beach area, turn to the team at GOLDLAW today. We have the resources needed to handle the entirety of your claim, including negotiations with insurance companies and the personal injury trial process. We want to help you secure the compensation you are entitled to. When you need a West Palm Beach premises liability attorney, contact our office to schedule a free consultation today.