Contract Lifeguard Service, City, Named in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Contract Lifeguard Service, City, Named in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Every year there are dozens of accidental drowning and near-drowning accidents at public beaches, with many of these accidents occurring during “rip tide” conditions at beaches along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In today’s post, the drowning accident lawyer at The Doan Law Firm discusses a recent wrongful death lawsuit where a popular South Carolina vacation spot and a commercial lifeguard service have been named as defendants.

According to a news item posted by WMBF-TV, the City of Myrtle Beach (SC), Lack’s Beach Service and an unnamed lifeguard employed by Lack’s have been named as defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit over the August 2018 drowning of Zurihun Wolde. The lawsuit was filed by Meswaet Abel, who identified herself as Wolde’s fiancée and the mother of his four children.

In her lawsuit, Ms. Abel states that on the morning of August 24, 2018 the family was visiting a city beach when Wolde and two of the children entered the water and were almost immediately pulled away from the shore by a strong rip current. After Mr. Wolde began yelling for assistance, several beachgoers were able to rescue the children but were unable to reach Wolde. Wolde was rescued several minutes later by others present at the beach but could not be revived and died shortly afterward at a local hospital. In support of her negligence claim against both the City of Myrtle Beach and Lack’s Beach Service, Ms. Abel stated:

  • Lack’s Beach Service was contracted by the City of Myrtle Beach to provide lifeguard and beach safety services. As a part of that contract, Lack’s was allowed to rent beach equipment at several locations.
  • On August 23, the day before the drowning, the National Weather Service had issued a rip tide alert for the Myrtle Beach area. Ms. Abel states that no rip tide potential warnings had been posted on the beach and the family as thus unaware of the danger.
  • Despite Mr. Wolde’s clearly audible cries for help, the lifeguard responsible for that section of the beach failed to respond.
  • That the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) had refused to certify Lack’s employees since 2016 because of the USLA ‘s policy that using lifeguards as property rental agents distracted lifeguards from their safety duties.
  • Although the USLA had notified the City of Myrtle Beach of its decision, the City had renewed its contract with Lack’s despite being aware of the potential safety issues.

WMBF-TV noted that neither the City of Myrtle Beach nor Lack’s Beach Service would comment on the allegations made in the lawsuit, which asks for a trial before a jury and unspecified damages.

“Sovereign Immunity” and beach drowning accidents

“Sovereign Immunity” is the legal doctrine holding that a government or its agencies cannot be named as defendants, or are “immune,” in a civil lawsuit. However, most states have passed laws removing such immunity in those instances where negligence can be demonstrated. Although each state has its own laws dealing with this issue, many states’ laws are similar to South Carolina’s.

Under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, a municipality can be found liable for damages if a court finds the municipality’s negligence contributed to an injury. However, the total amount of damages that may be awarded is “capped” or “limited” to $300,000 in an individual’s lawsuit and at $600,000 per incident regardless of the number of plaintiffs seeking damages.

Contacting a drowning accident lawyer

Determining who was at fault in drowning accidents is a critical issue when it comes to assuring accidents victims and their families that they will receive all the compensation they are legally entitled to recover. In many cases, an experienced drowning accident injury lawyer will be able to identify additional parties whose negligence may have contributed to an accident.

If a member of your family has been injured in a drowning or near-drowning accident, you should contact the drowning accident injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a national personal injury law firm with offices located throughout the country.

When you contact our drowning accident lawyer, your case review and first consultation with our staff is always free of any charges and does not obligate you to hire out firm as your legal counsel. Should you decide that a lawsuit is in order and that you would like for us to represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.