What is Negligence in Lifeguarding?

July 25, 2022

A lifeguard’s job is to ensure swimmers remain safe and abide by the rules of the pool or beach. However, distraction or negligent behavior on the lifeguard’s part can risk the lives of beach and pool visitors.

If you or a loved one were hurt because of a lifeguard’s negligence, then it is important to seek legal guidance from a lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can hold the lifeguard and their employer liable for negligence and failing to keep you or your loved one safe.

What Are a Lifeguard’s Duties?

A lifeguard is responsible for the safety of swimmers in an area designated by the pool or beach manager. The lifeguard must be aware of potential hazards, such as shallow areas, slip hazards, or riptides. If a swimmer is in trouble, the lifeguard must provide immediate assistance. This may involve throwing a flotation device, entering the water, or performing CPR.

Lifeguards must also maintain order around the pool or beach area. This includes enforcing rules, such as no running or diving, and ensuring that swimmers are not overcrowding the area.

Negligence in Lifeguarding

A lifeguard may be ‌negligent if they fail to supervise swimmers properly, do not maintain a safe pool area, or lack the proper equipment in an emergency (such as flotation devices, first aid kits, or defibrillators). In addition, a lifeguard may be liable for negligence if they fail to provide adequate warning signs (such as “no diving” or “no running” signs) or neglect to train other lifeguards properly.

If there is not enough supervision or safety equipment at the pool or beach, then everyone is at risk for injury. This is especially true for young children and senior citizens, who may not be strong swimmers. The numbers show that more children between the ages of 1 and 4 die from drowning than any other cause outside of birth defects.

Almost 3,960 people die from unintentional drownings, and over 8,000 more suffer nonfatal drownings annually.

Examples of Negligent Lifeguard Behavior

Many things can go wrong at a pool, lake, or the ocean, leaving swimmers vulnerable to injury or drowning. If a lifeguard fails to help distressed swimmers in time, it can lead to them being judged negligent.

Examples include:

Failure to notice a distressed swimmer

Lifeguards have a specific area of the pool or beach for which they are responsible. Not being in position can cause them to miss a distressed swimmer. Lifeguards have a duty to scan their area of responsibility.

Distractions such as a phone call or a conversation with other lifeguards can also make a lifeguard liable for failing to notice a distressed swimmer. Even if a lifeguard notices a drowning swimmer, a timely response is necessary for a favorable outcome. If a lifeguard takes too long to respond because they were distracted, the victim can suffer injury or death.

Appearance of intoxication under alcohol or drugs

Lifeguards who arrive at the swimming pool or beach under the influence of alcohol and drugs may not react quickly in an emergency. In some cases, they may take longer to respond to a swimmer’s distress signals, or they may even fall asleep on the job.

Inaction during a medical emergency

Emergencies at the beach or pool may involve incidents outside the water, such as heat stroke. Lifeguards must notice distress and respond accordingly. Failure to do so can result in devastating consequences, such as a visitor fainting or going into a seizure.

Ineffective enforcement of rules

Swimming pools and beaches have rules concerning visitor behavior and crowding. If a lifeguard doesn’t enforce these rules, they may not maintain control over their area of responsibility, potentially resulting in an accident.

Compensation You Can Recover

If you suffer an injury due to lifeguard negligence, you may be able to recover damages from the lifeguard and their employer, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium, in case of a wrongful death

Proving the negligence of a lifeguard requires the help of a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can review any existing security footage of the incident and interview witnesses who may have seen it. The lawyer can also look back at the lifeguard employer’s history to see if there have been similar incidents and if the employer failed to supervise and train their lifeguards.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries because of a lifeguard’s negligence in Louisiana, you can work with the personal injury lawyers at Dudley DeBosier. We can investigate the incident and determine the lifeguard’s negligence. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with one of our attorneys.