When you’re two years old and love to swim, the best part of a weekend trip to Minneapolis is taking a dip in the hotel pool. After a long day of shopping, the toddler couldn’t wait to go for a swim with his parents and older siblings. Nobody could have predicted how this day would change their lives forever.
The boy took a dip in the pool, then went over to the hot tub where his parents were relaxing. He sat with them for about 10 minutes, then decided he wanted to get back in the pool with the other children. His dad lifted him out of the hot tub and sat him on the pool deck. Before his father could get out of the hot tub to help him, the boy took one step and his feet went out from under him.
The boy had hit his head on the tile pool and was inconsolable. However, since there was no swelling, bruising, or an open cut, his parents thought he might simply be tired from the day’s activities. They went back to their room and put him down for a nap.
When the boy woke up, his parents instantly knew something was terribly wrong. His speech wasn’t making sense, and his pupil was dilated on one side. They quickly rushed to their car to take him to the nearest emergency room—frantically Googling directions to help them navigate in a strange town.
At the ER, the doctors said the toddler needed to be transferred to a trauma center at a children’s hospital. Luckily, the nearest suitable facility was less than a mile away.
At the trauma center, they did a CAT scan and found signs of a brain bleed. An emergency craniotomy was performed to relieve the pressure on the boy’s brain, but the doctors were unable to prevent brain herniation. The devastated parents were told to say their goodbyes to their son.
It was touch-and-go for about 24 hours, but this toddler was a fighter. His condition started to improve. Within a few weeks, he was transferred to a rehab hospital to begin therapy to help him live with the physical and cognitive effects of his brain injury.
Finding a Way to Move Forward
The boy’s parents were grateful for their son’s improvement, yet unprepared for the task of raising a special needs child. They came to attorney Matthew Lathrop for assistance obtaining a settlement that would ensure their son would be cared for regardless of what the future held.
The hotel argued that placing caution signs around the pool area provided sufficient warning that the area was slippery when wet. They also pointed out that the boy’s family were the only people in the pool area when the accident occurred, which would mean that any water on the floor came from their group.
When Matthew filed a request for documents as part of the discovery phase, he found a receipt from a company that provided floor resurfacing and traction treatment buried within hundreds of pages of documents. After doing some additional digging, he found out the hotel had periodically applied the treatment after receiving complaints from staff and guests over a 10-year period complaining that the pool area was unsafe. Hotel management had looked into the resurfacing and traction treatment six months before the toddler’s accident, but decided to wait until after their remodeling was finished to avoid the expense of having the treatment applied twice.
Providing for the Child’s Future Needs
Like the majority of cases Matthew accepts, this one reached a confidential settlement in mediation. The child will probably never be able to attend a mainstream school or manage his own affairs, but the settlement will adequately provide for his future care needs because Matthew was able to locate additional insurance to cover the severe damages associated with his brain injury.
To ensure that the toddler would be provided for throughout this lifetime, Matthew contacted financial planning experts to help set up a special needs trust to preserve the child’s assets without jeopardizing eligibility for Medicaid and other vital government benefits for the disabled. The trust also allowed the parents to purchase their son a handicapped-accessible home that he can continue to live in with his older siblings after his parents are no longer able to care for him.
Matthew says this case caused more than a few sleepless nights, but being able to use his legal skills to make a difference in the boy’s life was a true privilege. “It’s a feeling that money can’t touch,” Matthew said. “I love being able to not only help families in need, but to make our community safer.”
Has Your Child Suffered a Serious Injury?
If your child has been harmed in a slip and fall accident or other incident caused by another party’s negligence, the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop can protect your right to compensation and ensure that your child’s future needs will be met. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.