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Lifeguard Negligence

negligent-lifeguard-drowning-lawsuit A recent study has shown that over half of all lifeguards are not doing their jobs correctly. This statistic is alarming, considering how many people depend on them for safety every day.

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys represent injured near-drowning victims and surviving family members who lost a loved one in a drowning accident.

Call a Chicago drowning lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation today.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship. Contact us today to discuss your personal injury case.

Beaches, water parks, aquatic facilities, and pools are all great ways to cool off and spend time outdoors during the hot summer months. Lifeguards are in charge of ensuring that all swimmers are safe, whether or not they can swim, in most of these leisure locations.

Lifeguards are in charge of ensuring that all swimmers are safe, whether or not they can swim, in most of these leisure locations.

Swimmers can be severely injured or killed if lifeguards overlook a struggling swimmer performing incorrect rescue and resuscitation skills. In addition, a careless lifeguard may leave survivors' families with significant medical bills, rehabilitation expenditures, and suffering.

Lifeguard Negligence Examples

Lifeguard carelessness may result in harm or death, especially for children. Lifeguards should always maintain alertness while watching swimmers. Most lifeguard injuries to children are due to drowning rather than injury while swimming.

Their experiences may still harm children who do not drown. For each child who dies from drowning, another five are treated in an emergency department for nonfatal submersion injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A lifeguard may also be responsible for the medical expenses of a swimmer who is injured during aquatic exercise. For example, a person attempting to go across a body of water using flotation devices or a kickboard may be injured in a pool containing a shallow end that does not meet depth requirements.

In some cases, the lifeguards on duty may be the ones using faulty rescue equipment. For example, a lifeguard tower may have been built with inadequate stairs for workers to reach their posts from the ground. In this case, lifeguards may have been required to climb a ladder during each rotation.

The Need for Binoculars

Also, lifeguards may be responsible for injuries that occur because of poorly maintained equipment. For example, lifeguards cannot properly conduct observation without the aid of binoculars.

In cases where there are not good binoculars at the lifeguard tower, a lifeguard may be judged negligent if they fail to alert a swimmer in distress.

A Lack of Training

In addition, a lifeguard who does not have proper training may also be considered negligent if they fail to properly use the equipment during a drowning.

For example, suppose there is no emergency stop switch for the automated pool cleaner. In that case, the lifeguard might be responsible for an injured swimmer after being sucked into a drain.

In general, a lifeguard's main job is to monitor swimmers and ensure their safety. In addition, the lifeguard must understand rescue and resuscitation procedures and CPR and first aid training for taking care of swimmers who are drowning.

It is also important for lifeguards to maintain alertness at all times, even if no one is currently swimming in the pool, to ensure that no one enters accidentally or falls into the water unexpectedly, leading to a drowning situation.

First Aid, CPR & AED

Students must first complete First Aid administration training, CPR training, and AED training to become certified lifeguards with the American Red Cross. However, poorly trained lifeguards or those who have not completed the required courses to be qualified lifeguards might be unable to perform critical saves when an accident occurs.

Every reasonable lifeguard should understand swimming pool rules, and receive sufficient lifeguard training from a competent training supervisor. Legal action could be taken against the company if the negligent lifeguard fails to follow protocols according to their training.

Unauthorized Lifeguard Breaks

According to the National Institutes of Health, a toddler can drown in as little as two inches of water in a few minutes. In addition, swimmers may be left without supervision when lifeguards are on breaks, leading to an increased risk of injuries in non-supervised pools.

In most recreational swimming locations, lifeguards are required to remain on duty for the entire duration of the facility's opening hours. However, many lifeguards cannot do this because they are often hired as independent contractors and not full-time employees.

In this case, the lifeguard must have enough authority to issue verbal warnings or kick a swimmer out of the facility if they do not follow general guidelines. A lifeguard with this authority can maintain a safe environment.

A Lack of Proper Gear

Lifeguards rely on a variety of tools and devices to ensure the safety of swimmers, including water rescue equipment, such as ropes and buoys, as well as CPR-related equipment. Lifeguards must also be aware of the emergency shut-off switches that are available to them.

Additionally, lifeguards must also be dressed in the appropriate gear to maintain their safety, including wearing a properly fitted life jacket or buoyancy compensator, as well as insulated gloves to protect against cold water. If the lifeguard is not properly protected, they may be unable to react appropriately in an emergency.

Drug or Alcohol Impairment

Lifeguards who have been drugged or intoxicated may miss signs of distress from a swimmer, fall asleep on the job, and take longer to react in an emergency. In addition, lifeguards are compensated for scanning, assessing, and ensuring the safety of all swimmers at all times, but intoxicating guards are unable to do so.

A Failure to Warn

Lifeguards are responsible for notifying swimmers and other pool-goers of any hazards, including children who run on the pool deck, horseplay, or enter a forbidden area.

Lifeguards may be held legally responsible for accidents that occur if they notice behavior that might result in an injury but do nothing to prevent it.


A lifeguard who is absorbed in other tasks may overlook a swimmer in distress and be unable to act promptly enough to save a victim. When a swimmer drowns, their brain loses oxygen; every second counts when it comes to saving a drowning person's life.

Distracted lifeguards who fail to notice distressed swimmers before they drown may be held liable for the swimmer's harm, injuries, or death.


Lifeguards must constantly monitor the swimming area and be vigilant at all times. Negligent lifeguards may fall asleep, zone out, or otherwise lose attention when they are overtasked or fatigued when on duty at the swimming pool or beach.

In summary, hiring qualified lifeguards for your recreational facility can greatly increase customer satisfaction and help prevent injuries among patrons by enforcing policies and ensuring the venue's safety. However, facilities must hire lifeguards who can do their jobs properly.

It may be accomplished by requiring all employees to pass a background check and minimum training requirements, such as a certification of completion for a course in CPR and first aid. Moreover, guards should also be adequately trained on the proper equipment that they need to operate.

Delayed Drowning (Secondary Drowning)

Children and adults can die from delayed drowning after inhaling even a tiny amount of water or liquids into the lungs. In addition, just a small amount of any fluid in the lungs can lead to irritation and inflammation, making it difficult to breathe.

Delayed drowning could lead to death when the body responds by sending fluids from other body areas to the lungs to help reduce the inflammation. Unfortunately, we virtually no longer asked her room to brief the additional fluids, leading to cardiac arrest or death.

While delayed drowning is extremely rare, it can be easily overlooked by a parent, guardian, lifeguard, or other adults who fail to recognize the symptoms. Some people die from secondary drowning in a few minutes, and others take hours or days after the water has been sent to the lungs.

Dry Drowning

This extremely rare condition occurs more rapidly than delayed drowning but still involves adults and children inhaling tiny amounts of water. The water can enter either the mouth or knows, causing a spasm in the victim's airways. The body responds by closing the throat.

In many cases, the person's making an uncomfortable loud sound. Other times, the child might not be visibly struggling while it occurs. The common signs and symptoms of secondary and dry drowning include:

  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Fever and vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Labored breathing
  • Persistent coughing
  • Difficulty when talking
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Lethargy, exhaustion, and extreme fatigue
  • Blue skin color (dry drowning symptom)

Steps to Follow Following a Pool Accident

After a negligent lifeguard has hurt you, you may be confused about what to do next. The measures below detail what you should do right now and in the coming days and weeks following an accident.

Seek Medical Attention

You should see a physician as soon as possible if you or someone you're with has been seriously shocked, especially after near-drowning accidents that might be life-threatening; in minor instances, you may not believe you require medical care.

However, only an emergency doctor with the best diagnostic tools can accurately determine the extent of your medical condition and if you need assistance. A trained medical technician can understand the signs and symptoms of drowning, near drowning, dry drowning, and delayed drowning and take steps immediately to control the situation and avoid ongoing harm or death.

Document What Occurred

If possible, capture photographic images of your injuries that might include cuts, broken bones, bruising, or other identifiable problems. Document the lifeguard's name who was on duty at the time the accident occurred.

Ask for the supervisor's name, the lifeguard's employer, and the name of any eyewitnesses that might have seen what occurred. Pass this information on to your attorney to be used as evidence in a compensation case.

Document Your Expenses

Near drowning experiences typically require extensive medical care, generating huge hospital costs, rehabilitation bills, and medical care expenses. In addition, adult victims and parents of child victims typically must take time off from work while the victim heals.

Consider Hiring a Lifeguard Negligence Attorney

In many cases, the victim cannot handle a compensation case without the experience of a competent lifeguard negligence lawyer specializing in premises liability cases for accidents occurring at swimming pools and beaches.

The law firm will investigate what happened, determine the level of the lifeguard's negligence and all the potential defendants that could be held liable and named in a personal injury lawsuit or claim.

A pool accident lawyer might also help you by ensuring adequate medical attention, gathering evidence, filing a lawsuit, negotiating a settlement, and going to trial if necessary.

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys can ensure you receive adequate financial compensation. Call us today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case's merits.

Potential Defendants

The individuals who caused the accident may be held responsible for your serious injuries. In addition to holding a negligent lifeguard accountable for your damages, you might have been injured by an employee supervisor, a fellow lifeguard, and the property owner.

While each instance is unique, some of the parties who are commonly identified as causing pool accidents include:

The Lifeguard on Duty

In many cases, it was the lifeguard's negligence that led to the drowning, near-drowning, or poolside accident due to various reasons, including:

  • Unauthorized breaks
  • Drugs or alcohol impairment
  • Failing to supervise swimmers properly
  • Falling asleep
  • Distraction

Just one of these activities might find that the lifeguard failed to do their job, leading to the victim's injuries.

Lifeguard Associates (Fellow Lifeguards Trained in Life-Saving Techniques)

There may have been multiple lifeguards on duty the day of the accident. It is not uncommon for companies to hire multiple people to ensure pool, beach, or waterside safety.

Although negligent lifeguards on duty that day might be held legally liable for their failure to notice a distressed injured swimmer and take action necessary to provide care or rescue.

The Supervisor or Pool Manager

Many companies have supervisors on duty to manage one or more lifeguards. Their duties may include certifying the individual to ensure that they are properly trained to do their job.

The supervisor is often in charge of scheduling, including scheduling and monitoring the lifeguard's break time to ensure that they do not become exhausted while on duty.

Pool and Property Owner

Typically, the property owner or pool owner will employ the lifeguard. However, these individuals and companies can also be held legally liable for the negligent actions of the lifeguard who failed to do their job, leading to your damages.

In many cases, the pool owners could be held financially accountable for negligent hiring employees, including the lifeguard. These cases are often built on the employer not providing all employees proper life-saving devices, including flotation devices, and not adequately training their workers.

Lifeguard Negligence FAQs

Our law office understands many families have unanswered questions about dealing directly with an insurance company providing financial compensation after a drowning or near-drowning accident. A lifeguard negligence attorney has answered some of those questions below.

Call our legal team at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for additional information or a free case review.

How Much Compensation Can I Get for My Pool Accident Case?

Every negligence case is unique, as is the evidence used to prove the lifeguard's negligence, pool owner, supervisor, and others that might be responsible for your damages.

Statistically, pool accident cases settle for approximately 85 percent of the policy limits. Our legal team can help you get the compensation you deserve to focus on your recovery.

Does My Pool Accident Case Have to Go to Court?

If one or more parties of interest decide that they do not want to settle your case, then the legal team will go to court. Contact us to learn more about the legal procedures and timeline surrounding a lawsuit.

However, statistically, practically 95% of all personal injury cases, including premises liability, drowning, near drowning, and medical malpractice lawsuits, are resolved through a negotiated out-of-court settlement. Only a small fraction of the remaining 5% are won by the plaintiffs (injured parties).

What Is the Time Limit for Filing My Pool Accident Case?

As with any injury law claim, some deadlines must be met to preserve your legal rights and seek compensation. The statutes of limitation vary from state to state but typically range from one to three years.

If you fail to meet this deadline, it is possible that your damages will be waived, and you could lose out on collecting fair financial compensation for your losses. The time limit expires no matter how responsible the party who caused injury or suffering due to their negligence may have been.

What Are the Legal Rules for Filing Third-Party Claims?

A "third-party claim" is a separate civil lawsuit that can be filed against another negligent party, such as if you were swimming in a public pool and you are injured by another swimmer who the pool owner does not employ.

Third-party claims are sometimes referred to as "intervention" cases that occur when other parties may be responsible for causing your damages or other injuries under certain circumstances.

For instance, it could be determined that someone other than yourself or the pool owner was responsible for your accident at the time of the incident. If this situation applies to your particular case, you must act quickly to file this type of claim with legal assistance.

Will There Be Time Limits to File a Third-Party Claim?

Yes, you will need to act quickly because courts typically impose deadlines on these types of cases.

Without legal counsel, the deadline imposed by the court may pass before your claim is filed or even reviewed by an attorney. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict what might happen if this occurs because every case varies in terms of evidence presented and how long it takes for your specific injuries to develop.

Why Should I Get Legal Advice From a Lawyer About My Pool Accident Case?

The negligence associated with hiring lifeguards can result in serious consequences for owners and supervisors, including imprisonment along with payment of large sums of money in damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.

As with any accident claim, negligence must be established through responsible parties before it can be determined that your case will hold up in court under the requirements for negligence.

An attorney will collect evidence surrounding the case to strengthen its chances of success while guiding this process.

What Are Some of the Factors Involved With Filing a Pool Accident Case?

Some of these factors may include:

  • Whether or not you were invited to use the premises
  • How it is established that you did not act in any way at fault for your damages, or
  • Evidence suggesting another individual acting negligent (such as distracting drivers) resulted in your injuries

Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney to Resolve your Compensation Case

Are you the victim of the pool accident, or did you lose a loved one in a drowning caused by a lifeguard's negligence? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our premises liability attorneys provide immediate legal representation for victims harmed through the negligent actions of others.

Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our lifeguard negligence lawyers remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Our nationwide lifeguard negligence attorneys accept every personal injury lawsuit through contingency fee agreements. This promise ensures you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury verdict.


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