Whatever the situation is with your injury case, you may or may not realize that you need an expert. If it’s a medical malpractice case involving a complex surgery, you need a neutral doctor to decipher what happened. In my son’s case, I knew we needed an aquatics and diving expert.
When my law office is looking for experts for our client’s cases, we search long and hard to find the perfect match. We utilize professional expert referral services to make posts on lawyer’s email listservs which connect thousands of lawyers from across the country. We used these methods with my sons case and eventually were connected to an individual who is perhaps the most prominent expert in the field of aquatics, Dr. Thomas J. Griffiths.
As President of the Aquatic Safety Research Group, LLC and international teacher of Aquatic Risk Management programs, Dr. Griffiths was the just the expert we needed. In his past, Griffiths was the Director of Aquatic and Safety Officer for Intercollegiate Athletics at Penn State University between 1986 and 2009 and oversaw eight diving boards during this time. He even published textbooks and numerous articles on the subject, as well as acted as an expert on other diving board injury cases.
The first step was to have Dr. Griffiths inspect the pool area and diving board, so we flew him to Ohio. He found several faults with the diving board and wrote a report indicating the below points of negligence that contributed the injury of my son:
- Failure to remove three meter diving board and accompanying stand with ladder and railings completely prevent catastrophic falls as most other recreational swimming pools have done throughout the country.
- Failure to renovate the three meter diving board effectively to prevent the possibility of falls to the deck below.
- Failure to extend the handrails to 12 to 24 inches beyond the swimming pool wall located 10 feet below.
- Failure to install soft and safe landing material completely throughout the drop area under the three meter board including the coping edge.
- Failure to restrict the use of the three meter diving board to adolescents rather than young children.
- Failure to post and enforce strict rules and regulations for the use of the three meter diving board.
- Failure to limit the hours during which the three meter board could be used and provide direct supervision directly under the board during those times.
Dr. Griffiths testimony was critical to the case and explained the ways that my son’s injury could have been prevented.
As discussed earlier in the book, the defense of the pool owners was that the danger of the diving board was “open and obvious.” Dr. Griffiths played a key role in shutting down that argument and specifically indicated the hazard would not be obvious to pool patrons such as those family members enjoying an afternoon at the pool.
Dr. Griffith’s deposition stated:
- Only those parents that have worked in the industry would recognize the danger of the diving board.
- Parents who have not seen catastrophic falls take place do not realize the danger. They are given a false sense of security.
- The pool owners should have recognized the danger as it is spelled out in the Code.
Dr. Griffiths also helped us to state that the pool owners were in violation of “pool industry standards” and when these standards are not followed, the result could be death or paralysis. If the standards were followed, the guardrails would have extended and my son would not have fallen to the deck of the pool. Since the owners failed to follow code, they could be held liable for Josh’s injuries.
This testimony was critical. The first step for anyone in a personal injury case is to ask if an expert is needed, then to find the perfect match. Our office always searches for the perfect expert for each case to ensure our clients have the best possible outcome in their case.
Lesson to be learned: Finding the right expert for your case can mean the difference between a successful resolution and getting nothing.
You need to find a personal injury lawyer that knows the importance of an expert in your case, and someone that can successfully find the perfect expert to help you achieve the best possible settlement.