Brown v. City of Vero Beach, 64 So. 3d 172 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011)

This case is about a drowning accident that involved a child at a Florida beach. The parents of the child brought a lawsuit against the city of Vero Beach, and the county of Indian River, claiming they were negligent in the death of their son.

The wrongful death action that was filed by the victim’s parents was done after their son drowned and died at a Florida beach while attempting to help his friend who was being taken away from shore by a rip-current. The claim itself alleged that the city and county failed to live up to their owed duty to the public to make sure everyone is properly warned about hazardous conditions in the ocean.

The recreational area of the beach was owned by both the city and the county. The parents of the victims stated in their complaint that the co-owned area of the beach was presented to the citizens and visitors of the Vero Beach as a public swimming location. At around four in the afternoon, the victim went into the water to assist a friend who was struggling against the strong current. It was alleged that shortly after entering the water, the victim vanished under big waves, and that the beach did not have lifeguards on post. The issue raised in the lawsuit was that the victim entered the water not knowing of the hazard that was the rip-current. This type of strong ocean movement is something that a lifeguard could have recognized had there been one on duty to do so.

The victim’s body was quickly taken away from the shore line and was never found. It was the contention of the parents of the victim that if a lifeguard had been on duty at the time that their son was at the beach, he could have been warned of the dangerous condition that ultimately took his life.

The term ‘drowning’ denotes that a person has died as a result of an accident in the water. It does not take very long for a person to die due to not receiving sufficient oxygen to the brain. Negligence claims can be filed when a person has suffered an injury or died at a public beach because the operator of the beach breached an owed duty of care to the public. Lives can be protected from certain aspects of the ocean by properly employing lifeguards who are trained in detecting rip-currents and saving people from drowning.

When public beaches in Florida fail to provide adequate lifeguards or police patrol, they are allowing ample opportunity for dangerous conditions to present themselves. Rip currents are one of the leading causes for drowning’s at Florida beaches. These natural currents are easily detected from elevated lifeguard towers. When lifeguards are properly on duty at public beaches, they can indicate the presence of these strong currents and inform beach goers that they are there. Generally, when a lifeguard detects a rip current in the ocean, they will block off the area of the ocean so that people do not get caught in them and suffer serious injuries or drown.

You should speak to an attorney if you feel a loved one drowned due to the negligence of another party. The Fort Lauderdale law offices of Madalon Law will answer your questions at no cost during a free consultation.