The family of a Pennsylvania man is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the nearby Cedar Crest College over his recent drowning. The man, William Binder, had been swimming laps, when he was found by another swimmer at the bottom of the pool and rushed to a medical center, where he passed. The family has since filed a lawsuit against the college. For the duration of time that Binder had been swimming, he was unsupervised. The lawsuit argues that the school’s lifeguards were not paying attention to the pool when Binder became endangered. According to the account from the lawsuit, Binder began swimming around 2:30pm and was found at the bottom of the deep end of the pool at 3:30 by other swimmers. Another swimmer ended up pulling Binder to the surface, where an emergency room physician who was also swimming attempted to administer aid. The lawsuit goes on to claim that even though the lifeguards were on duty, they were not ready and able to administer aid, nor were they performing their jobs properly, as they were not observing the deep end.
Drowning lawsuits are a special form of a wrongful death claim. In essence, there are several reasons why drowning lawsuits are almost in a class of their own. One of these is the very nature of a swimming pool. A pool is a recreational spot where there is some degree of assumed risk on the part of the swimmer. In spite of this, most public pools enlist a lifeguard to ensure that no accident takes place, or that any accident or injury is dealt with immediately via the proper intervention. However, negligence can still occur even with a lifeguard present. This can include:
- Lifeguard’s Lack of Attentiveness: Lifeguards are meant to preserve the safety of all pool guests. If a lifeguard is not paying attention and someone drowns or is injured, this may be considered negligent.
- Lifeguard’s Incompetence: Sometimes, by the time a lifeguard is able to intervene, there is nothing they can do. Other times, a lifeguard may not have been properly trained or ready to provide assistance. This may be an example of negligence on the part of the pool owner for hiring incompetent lifeguards.
- Lack of Pool Maintenance: Although by nature, most pools must be well kept, at times lack of proper pool maintenance can lead to injury or death. Many older pools have strong drainage units that are strong enough to keep a child from getting to the surface. Sometimes, adding too many chemicals to a pool and cause irritation or even chemical burns to those with sensitive skin. Pools must be maintained carefully.
- Attractive Nuisance: In certain cases, pools located on private property can be considered an “attractive nuisance”: something that presents a hazard, but is “attractive” to children. A pool is a perfect example, as a child may not know of a drowning risk and enter a pool unsupervised. Attractive nuisances should be guarded by fence or other apparatus to prevent unauthorized and unsupervised entry. The burden is on a property owner to install such devices.