Public swimming pools in South Carolina are especially popular in the summer as children and adults look for fun ways to beat the heat. Sadly, even if a lifeguard is on duty, drowning injuries and drowning deaths can still occur at the pool. Some drownings at lifeguarded swimming pools may be due to negligence. In these cases, it’s vital to be informed of your legal rights to compensation. Our skilled South Carolina personal injury lawyers are here to help.
Causes of Drowning Accidents in Lifeguarded Pools
Having a lifeguard on duty at the swimming pool can offer peace of mind. From Myrtle Beach to Charleston and other major South Carolina destinations, many lifeguarded pools are available to the public. However, lifeguards do not eliminate the dangers and risks of drowning at a swimming pool.
Near-drowning injuries and drowning deaths still happen due to one or more of these factors:
- Distracted lifeguards. If a lifeguard is too busy scrolling on their phone, they are not attending to the safety needs of pool goers. Lifeguards should not be expected to perform other duties while lifeguarding.
- Underqualified lifeguards. A lack of training or certification may mean a lifeguard is ill-equipped to perform their duties in the case of an emergency. They should know how to perform CPR, for example.
- Unsecured pools with inadequate security. South Carolina law dictates that pools must not be accessible to children when unattended.
- Poorly maintained pools. Faulty equipment can cause electrocution and other injuries, which can contribute to drowning incidents. Slip and fall accidents are a risk as well.
- Understaffed swimming pools. Property owners should keep an adequate staff-to-swimmer ratio at all times. Lifeguards tasked with overseeing too many swimmers may miss the telltale signs of a possible drowning incident.
- Lack of swimming ability. People who are unable to swim may accidentally find themselves in the deep end and unable to get out.
- Lack of flotation devices. Novice swimmers should have access to life jackets and other flotation devices. A lack of first aid equipment can contribute to drowning injuries too.
- Water park injury. A swimmer may get hurt going down waterslides and other equipment. If they bump their head and lose consciousness, a lifeguard may not notice.
- Dangerous drains. Pool drains with deadly suction can trap clothing, hair, or body parts. A swimmer may not be able to escape as they are pulled underwater.
Examples of Possible Drowning Locations
Lifeguarded swimming pools in South Carolina are often found in the following locations:
- Municipal parks
- Country clubs
- Aquatic centers
- Recreation centers
- Water parks
- Family campgrounds
- Hotels and resorts
- YMCA locations
- Facilities for military families
What to Do After a Drowning Incident
It is undeniable that drowning accidents and injuries can be very traumatic. In the event of a drowning incident, it is prudent to follow these steps.
- Seek emergency medical care.
- Take photos of the scene, including any signage.
- Make a note of weather and pool area conditions.
- Get the contact information of the lifeguard, property owner, and other relevant parties.
- Get the contact information of any eyewitnesses.
- Inform loved ones of the drowning incident.
- Consult with a lawyer for sound legal advice.
- Keep copies of relevant documents, like medical bills and pay stubs.
Identifying Potential Defendants for a Possible Lawsuit
When it comes to drowning accidents in South Carolina, premises liability generally applies. This means the owner of the pool owes a duty of care to people using the pool. Identifying the owner may seem simple for hotels and resorts, for instance, as well as at private pools. A property owner may be one of the defendants in a drowning accident lawsuit.
This only applies if negligence is identified as a factor in the drowning. If the victim drowns as a result of their own negligent behavior, they may not have the legal standing to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. It is best to consult with a skilled South Carolina attorney to discuss your specific case.
Other possible defendants may include:
- The lifeguard on duty
- The party responsible for hiring or training the lifeguard
- The pool maintenance company
- The related government entity
- Other employees or guests
Under the South Carolina Code of State Regulations R.61-51.J.11(a)(i), “one or more lifeguards shall be on duty during operation hours at Type “A” and “E” pools.” These describe pools open to the general public without membership and pools at water parks, like water slides and wave parks. Guests have a reasonable expectation for lifeguarded pools at these locations. Failure to staff these pools with qualified lifeguards may be in violation of this law.
Seeking Compensation to Recover Damages
Pursuing legal action following a drowning accident can be complex. It is wise to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to guide you through this process. They can clarify the possible damages you may be able to recover. This may include past and future medical costs, lost wages, loss of future earning potential, loss of consortium, and punitive damages.
A skilled lawyer can also explain what happens in a wrongful death lawsuit, which may apply when there is a drowning at a lifeguarded swimming pool. There are specific laws and processes involved. The standard statute of limitation s is typically three years, but if the pool is owned by the local government, this window shrinks to two years. The attorneys at Pracht Injury Lawyers can help you get the justice and compensation you and your loved ones deserve.