With summer now in full force, more people are going to be heading to the beach. Whether you’re renting a home with family for the week or taking a romantic weekend getaway, the beach is a top destination this year. This is especially the case after more than a year of being on lockdown due to COVID-19 restrictions. While the beach has a lot to offer, it also presents many hazards that can cause serious injury. However, it is often unclear who is legally responsible for beach injuries. At the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, our dedicated team of injury lawyers in Kentucky is here for you. We can explain the recovery process to you in clear, understandable terms and help you pursue a claim for compensation against the property owner or entity responsible for your injuries.
Types of Beach Injuries
There are many ways that a property owner’s negligence can put beachgoers at risk. For example, the following are all common types of beach injuries.
Drowning is perhaps the most obvious risk associated with the beach. Each year, over 4,000 people die across the United States from drowning. According to the Centers for Disease Control, up to 75% of all fatal drownings occur in open waters, such as oceans, lakes, rivers, and ponds.
Lifeguards are the best way to prevent drowning. However, not all beach owners provide lifeguards because doing so is expensive. And what’s more, state law does not require that all beaches have a lifeguard. So, just because someone drowned at a beach with no lifeguard or while the lifeguard was off-duty will not mean the property owner is automatically liable. However, if an owner provided a lifeguard who failed to perform their duties, it may give rise to liability for injuries at the beach.
Aside from failing to provide adequate lifeguards, a beach owner may also be liable for a visitor’s drowning-related death or injuries for failing to fence off dangerous areas. Also, a beach owner should mark all underwater hazards.
Falls are also a leading cause of beach injury. For example, beachgoers commonly fall in the parking lot or the trail from that lot to the beach. Generally, property owners must take reasonable steps to ensure that these areas are safe and free of hazards. For example, the owner of a parking lot has an obligation to maintain the lot and repair potholes, uneven pavement, broken curbs, and other maintenance issues that present a danger to guests. If a beach owner drops the ball on performing the required maintenance, they can be liable for any resulting injuries.
Figuring Out Liability for Injuries at the Beach
State law allows you to bring a personal injury claim against the property owner if their negligence causes you harm. This is the case regardless of whether the owner is a private individual, a business, or a government entity. Premises liability cases are a common type of personal injury claim. A premises liability claim is one brought by a guest against the owner of a property. Most beach injuries fall into this category.
However, under Kentucky premises liability law, simply owning a property doesn’t automatically make a landowner liable for all guest injuries. In other words, you must prove that the owner of the property acted negligently. This may mean that the owner failed to fulfill a duty of care owed to their guests. For example, failing to ensure adequate lifeguard coverage, allowing dangerous debris or other hazards to remain on the beach, or otherwise failing to provide a safe space to enjoy the beach can all count as negligence.
The first step to bringing a beach injury lawsuit is to identify who owns the beach. If you don’t know the identity of the owner, you won’t know who to sue. Some beaches are privately owned. But the majority of the beaches are public. Both private beach owners and state and local governments are responsible for maintaining the beach.
However, there are different rules when it comes to holding a government agency responsible for injuries occurring on public land. For example, depending on the situation, you may need to provide earlier notice of your intent to sue the government. There may also be limits on the amount of damages you can recover from the government. So, it is important that you reach out to a dedicated injury lawyer in Kentucky to determine who owned the beach and how you can bring a claim to recover compensation for your injuries. If successful, you can recover damages to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, as well as any pain and suffering you endured as a result of the accident.
Have You Been Injured in a Kentucky Beach Accident?
If you or another family member suffered injuries while at the beach, you shouldn’t assume that you are responsible for paying your accident-related costs. The owner of the beach may be on the hook for your damages. However, because beach injury cases often involve complex issues of government liability, it is important to work with an experienced injury attorney in Kentucky.
At the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, we represent clients injured in all types of accidents, including beach-related injuries. Regardless of the type of injury you sustained, we can help advise you of your rights and help you bring a claim against the responsible party. Founding attorney, Seth Gladstein, is a Louisville native who proudly serves clients throughout the state, including in Bowling Green, Lexington, Murray, Owensboro, and Paducah. He offers all prospective clients a free consultation to discuss their cases. At the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, we won’t bill you for our services unless we recover compensation on your behalf. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, give us a call or connect with us through our online form.