Lifeguards at pools are trained in various life-saving techniques so they can provide a rapid response in the event that a swimmer is injured in the pool. Like any trained safety professional, a lifeguard can make mistakes, sometimes with profoundly serious consequences for the person they are trying to save. In some cases a lifeguard may bear legal responsibility for his or her mistakes.
Nevada’s lifeguard requirements
To be employed as a lifeguard in Nevada one must first obtain a certification from one of several training programs in the state. The specific certification that is necessary to work in a venue is determined by the employer and local regulations. The certification programs all require applicants to demonstrate their strength as swimmers and mastery of basic first aid, including CPR. Some programs involve more training and tougher standards than others. For example, the American Lifeguard Association’s course covers detailed methods for rescuing people from water and has an especially high standard for swimming strength. Ongoing training is necessary to maintain a certification over time.
In Las Vegas Section 4-302 of the Aquatic Facility Regulations of the Southern Nevada Health District require a lifeguard to be present during operating hours at pools that meet certain criteria. These criteria include:
- Pools that allow unsupervised children under 14 years of age.
- Any pool that will be used by a youth group.
- Any pool that will be used for group athletic training or exercise programs.
- Large pools (over 2000 square feet).
- Pools with current, waterslides, diving boards.
- Pools that charge an admission fee.
A lifeguard’s negligence
As certified professionals lifeguards owe a heightened duty of care to the people they supervise. In legal terms a lifeguard must take steps that a reasonable lifeguard would take under the circumstances to protect the safety of other swimmers. The “reasonable lifeguard” is a hypothetical person of similar experience and training, often constructed from testimony and objective professional standards. Significantly, a lifeguard has an affirmative obligation to help someone in trouble.
A lifeguard or the lifeguard’s employer may be liable for injuries that a swimmer suffers under a range of circumstances. Here are a few:
- The lifeguard fails to use his or her training to protect the swimmer from injury (for example, by failing to administer basic first aid to stabilize a broken limb).
- The lifeguard was distracted and did not respond in a timely way to an emergency.
- The employer hired someone who did not have the necessary certification.
Talk to a personal injury attorney about pool accidents
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you or a loved one has been injured by a lifeguard’s negligence we are happy to discuss your legal options with you. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.