In 2012, a 19-year-old woman was visiting a Georgia college campus with her 3-year-old son to donate blood and celebrate her sister's birthday. What should have been a relaxing family day ended in tragedy.
The 3-year-old was playing with a ball, which rolled into a nearby fountain. His mother stopped him from fetching the ball and instead chose to get it herself. Instead, she was electrocuted as soon as she stepped into the water as her son and others watched.
People nearby tried to help as the victim screamed, but they were shocked themselves from the electricity in the water. The woman's son is now being cared for by his grandmother.
Investigators found at least 17 problems with the lighting, motor and wiring underneath the water. The victim's family settled for $1.4 million in a wrongful death suit stemming from the fatal accident. $400,000 of the settlement was for the emotional distress the boy suffered from watching his mother die. The funds are being held in a bank-managed trust for the boy.
The large figure is rare in a wrongful death suit in Georgia. However, it's likely that a previous instance with the fountain contributed to the large award.
Just one month before, another mother had been electrocuted. She was pushing her baby in a stroller when she slipped and fell into the water. A second student who helped her was also shocked. After this incident, university staff only drained the fountain, washed it and then refilled it.
What makes this case all the more sad is that the college has a program that teaches students how to become commercial and residential electricians.
A wrongful death suit, such as this one, can help ensure that dangerous conditions are removed and that no one else will suffer the same fate. The victim's mother in this case filed the lawsuit to ensure that the fountain wasn't a danger to anyone else.
Source: LA Times, "Family gets $1.4 million over electrocution at Georgia college" Paresh Dave, Mar. 20, 2014