Did the negligence or carelessness of a lifeguard result in you or a loved one suffering personal injuries and emotional trauma? If so, you are completely justified in asking questions such as:
The experienced team of drowning accident attorneys at Justice Guardians is prepared to help you fight for what's right and, as the victim of another's negligence, you have powerful legal options at your disposal.
It's possible that filing a lawsuit is the right path for you to take. Indeed, sometimes it's the only way for victims to get the compensation they need to get back on their feet.
However, it's critical for you and your loved ones to understand what it means to take legal action. Call us today and we will gladly explain the process, step-by-step, to allow you to make an informed decision.
The compensation from a lifeguard negligence lawsuit can provide you and your family with vital financial support after a tragic accident. Yet a poorly prepared claim can fall short of its maximum value. With an experienced personal injury and liability law firm by your side, you can be confident that all avenues for compensation will be leveraged in your favor.
The responsibility placed in the hands of swimming pool and beach lifeguards is no laughing matter. These individuals should be properly trained, seeing as how they're generally required to complete lifeguard courses and pass rigorous exercises to become certified. Moreover, they are also required to complete recertification classes, usually every two years.
In effect, a properly trained lifeguard should have a clear understanding of their role and specific mandates. If they violate the tenets that they learning during certification courses and it directly results in injuries, they or their employer can be held liable for negligence.
There are a number of actions that a lifeguard can take (or not take) that can be construed as negligent or careless. Here are some of the most common:
While they are on the clock, the attention of a lifeguard should be solely fixed on swimmers. If the setting is a swimming pool, a lifeguard must keep an eye on all corners of the pool as well as the surrounding area. Larger pools require more supervisors on duty. Generally, a ratio of 1:25 (lifeguard to bathers) is the standard, though the specific number can vary from state to state.
There are many potential distractions at a swimming pool or beach. The most common include personal phones and even other coworkers. However, while they are on-watch, a lifeguard should not let their attention be drawn away by such distractions.
If it is found that an on-duty lifeguard was distracted and this resulted in a swimmer drowning or suffering some other type of personal injury that should have been prevented, the lifeguard may be held responsible via a lifeguard negligence claim.
While taking a restroom break is a physiological necessity, just because a lifeguard left their post to go to the bathroom does not mean that they are absolved of all responsibility if an accident occurs. It is the duty of the individual to find another trained person who can man their post until they return.
Some states also have what is known as Good Samaritan laws which are relevant in lifeguard negligence cases. For instance, an off-duty lifeguard who does not assist in rescuing a drowning victim can be held liable even though they were not on duty at the time. This is because the individual has trained and acquired skills that could have prevented injury or the death of another. By consciously failing to use their training to help others, they can be considered negligent.
When it comes to preventing tissue death (such as brain damage) in a drowning accident, time is absolutely critical. Seconds spent underwater and unable to breathe can make the difference between life and death.
If for one reason or another a lifeguard didn't react in time to prevent death or personal injury, or if they took too long to act, they can be held responsible. A lifeguard's training teaches them to be alert so that they may react in short order. Depending on the circumstances and the specific reason why a lifeguard failed in the duty they were explicitly trained to complete, victims can file legal complaints claiming negligence.
The American Red Cross requires individuals looking to earn a lifeguard certification to engage in as many as 25 hours of in-person training before they can be tested and certified as a lifeguard.
Within this training regimen, individuals are instructed on first aid, CPR, and the use of an AED. They are also taught skills that help them respond effectively in emergencies.
Yet, if a lifeguard does not use their training in such emergency situations, they may also be held responsible for injuries that result from their inaction. During certification, lifeguards should be placed under simulated stress and be expected to respond quickly and correctly. If they fail to do so, they will not earn a certification.
Responding well to pressure is a necessary skill for a lifeguard. If a certified lifeguard fails to follow their training, or if they "freeze up" during an emergency situation, then they could be held liable for damages, as could the training center that certified them.
Any average person who happens to be present when someone else is drowning may do everything in their power to help. However, since they are not a trained professional, they are generally not responsible for any damages suffered by the victim.
On the other hand, as trained and certified personnel, lifeguards are indeed bound by an implicit duty of care for swimmers. If someone is drowning and a certified lifeguard is present, they are obligated to intervene and attempt a rescue.
The specific laws regarding the need for lifeguards whenever a pool is open to swimmers can vary from state to state.
For instance, in some states, a small community swimming pool will likely not be required to employ a full-time lifeguard. On the other hand, a large pool used by residents of a gated community may pass the state's size threshold and therefore require a lifeguard to be present whenever visitors are using the premises.
Outside of requirements established at the state level, and even when lifeguard supervision is not legally mandated, swimming pools and beaches are still required to post inconspicuous signage alerting visitors. Mainly, swimmers must be made aware of the fact that a lifeguard is not on duty.
For a lifeguard negligence case to be successful, it must be established that the defendant deviated from normal procedure. This is to say, they deviated from the action that a reasonable lifeguard would have taken as per their training.
By failing to follow standardized procedure, the lifeguard is acting negligently and making themselves responsible for the damages that result.
But just because a lifeguard acted negligently, it does not mean that they are the ones responsible for remunerating victims for their damages. In fact, it is often the employer of a lifeguard who is responsible for the damages.
Most businesses, particularly those with pools on the premises, possess insurance coverage that will pay out benefits to victims if a claim is successful.
Regrettably, to reach a point where victims and their loved ones finally receive the compensation they deserve can be quite a long and difficult road. For this reason, seeking the support of a personal injury attorney on this journey is highly recommended.
Contact our team of lawyers today if you believe you have a lifeguard negligence case. Through a free case review with our law firm, we can answer any questions you may have about your legal options. Also, we will be glad to explain the legal process step-by-step.
It's vital for you to understand what it means to take legal action. And while winning a negligence case can provide victims and their loved ones with substantial compensation, it can be a very long process. Make sure that an experienced attorney is by your side through the entirety of it.