The beach is home to sun and fun, and as the heat of summer intensifies, more people will flock to its shores to relax and cool off. Unfortunately, however, beaches can also be full of risks that sometimes result in injury. According to a study done by the University of Delaware, emergency room visits following injuries that happen at a beach are far more widespread than previously thought.
Who is liable for the damages that occur in such situations? Several factors will determine the answer to this question. If you are dealing with the aftermath of an injury that took place at a beach near Wilmington, you should be aware of the following factors determining potential liability.
Whether the beach is private or public
It should go without saying that private beaches are off-limits to civilians seeking summertime fun. Any private beach should have clear markings as such or warn against trespassing. If you are unclear whether a beach is public or private, err on the safe side and look for one that is explicitly public. Any injury that is a result of trespassing will likely be your liability.
Role of natural currents and tides
In some cases, the natural currents and waves of the ocean make for an unsafe environment that is beyond the control of the party who owns a beach. In such circumstances, there may even be ordinances in place protecting the beach’s owner — usually the city or county — from liability.
Presence or intervention of a lifeguard
On public beaches, there will often be lifeguards present who have training in injury prevention and resuscitation techniques. Sometimes, however, injuries are the result of no lifeguard being present or a lifeguard failing to fulfill his or her duties. In such cases, the owner of the beach and employer of the lifeguard might be liable for injuries that occurred — and some of these injuries may be catastrophic.