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Gearing up for the summer, for many, means grabbing your sunscreen, bathing suit, the kids, and heading to your local pool. It’s a summer pastime that many of us can reminisce about. Spending time at the pool during the summer has many fond memories for us. However, it can also be the sight of one very serious summer accident. Witnessing, being a victim of, or being present during a drowning is extremely traumatic and it might lead you to wonder who is liable. There was a lifeguard present, and plenty of bystanders. So, in the event of a drowning— what role do all of these people play?

Drowning at the Pool: Is the Lifeguard Liable for Injury or Death?

Lifeguard receive plenty of training on instances such as these. From lifeguarding classes, to CPR training, and beyond. Your local lifeguard should have the preparations in place for the chance of a drowning. But, when it comes down to it, how liable are they for the death or serious injury of someone who has drowned?

Setting the standard

Ultimately, being a lifeguard on duty means that you are responsible for the well-being of everyone in the pool. It’s important to understand that anyone can drown at any time. There are rules in place to keep this from happening regularly. Rules such as the no-diving rule, no running, and the likes. But, the fact is, it does happen, and as a lifeguard— there is a legal standard in place for doing everything you can to rescue the drowning victim. You have been specifically trained to handle this scenario, and failing to do that can lead to legal consequences.

A legal duty

There are ‘Good Samaritan’ laws in place for most scenarios such as this. For example, say you were witness to an accident and attempted to help the victim. But, they received some sort of resulting injury— Good Samaritan laws can act as protection from any legal implication. However, as a lifeguard, your job is quite literally to guard the lives and well-being of the people in your pool. Therefore, these laws do not apply to you.

Ultimately, as a lifeguard, your duty and legal obligation was to protect the people in your pool

If you, as the lifeguard, either 1) did not provide aid, or 3) provided negligent aid that led to further injury— you are likely at risk of legal action. No one wants to consider the possibility of such a horrible accident. But, understanding what role you should be playing in such a scenario will help you be prepared for all aspects of such an incident. Being a lifeguard is a tough job sometimes, and other times it’s pretty great. Ultimately, as long as you perform your job in the proper manner— you’ll be as good as gold.