Lifeguard Duty of Care

Lifeguards have one major responsibility, which is to make sure swimmers and players at the water park do not drown. If a lifeguard fails to act with duty of care, or acts in a way that a reasonable lifeguard would not act in the same situation, the lifeguard or the employers of the park may be liable.

Lifeguard Duties

The duty of care for lifeguards usually entails:

  • Sitting or standing at a post that is higher than the level of the water
  • Scanning the entire area that they are responsible for watching
  • The ability to recognize drowning or an emergency
  • Responding to an emergency
  • Pulling someone out of water
  • Doing CPR if a person is not breathing
  • Enforcing rules of the water


There are no official laws put in place about lifeguard training requirements, but there are certain procedures and standards that are usually expected of a qualified lifeguard. These qualifications usually include having a certification in basic training and procedures of lifeguarding, understanding the rules and regulations that guests must abide by, understanding their duties of care at the establishment, understanding of safety and rescue equipment, procedures of rescue, how to identify emergencies, and certification in water rescue, first aid, and CPR.

When a water park hires a lifeguard for their staff, they usually make sure that they have these understandings and qualifications, know the rules of the park, and are capable of the duty of care that is expected in order to keep guests safe and not have the park be liable. Sometimes lifeguarding mistakes can occur either because of a freak accident or because the lifeguard was not acting with duty of care.


Lifeguards of water park employers may be held liable when a lifeguard fails to save someone who is drowning. If there is a severe injury, drowning incident, or a death that occurs at a water park, it could be because a lifeguard was not exercising duty of care. Lifeguards are trained to recognize the difference between kids playing and roughhousing as opposed to someone who needs to be rescued.

If a person drowns at a water park because there was not enough lifeguards on duty at the time, the lifeguard was impaired, the lifeguard was distracted, or the lifeguard just failed to rescue the person, they may be responsible.

Getting Help

A lifeguard’s duty is to be alert and ready to respond to any emergency that occurs at the waterpark. If they are distracted, impaired, or not enforcing the rules of the park, they are not exercising the duty of care that is expected of them. If you or your child has been injured or been the victim of a drowning incident, call and speak with any attorney as soon as possible.

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