Earlier this month, the New Jersey shore made headlines when a beach umbrella blown out of the sand by a gust of wind impaled a European tourist in the ankle. Another similar incident occurred the following week when a Maryland beachgoer was also impaled by a rogue beach umbrella. While the incidents may be getting coverage for their oddity, it is important to remember that enjoying time on the beach is not without its risks. In fact, our legal team at Levinson Axelrod, P.A. hears from local residents and tourists who suffer harm in all types of beach-related injuries.
During the summer months, beachgoers face a number of risks on public beaches along the shore. If you have plans to enjoy New Jersey’s beaches, be sure that safety is always a priority, and that you’re aware of some of the most common beach injuries and how to avoid them:
- Sunburn – Sunburns are common for beachgoers and anyone who spends time out in the sun. Because these burns are dangerous to your health, protecting your skin is of the utmost importance. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher can prevent sunburns; just be sure to apply before heading out (sunburns may not be visible for up to 24 hours after time in the sun) and periodically throughout the day. Experts also recommend staying in the shade as much as possible, especially on hotter days. Bringing an umbrella (and making sure its securely fastened in the sand), wearing layers, and cooling off indoors or in the water when it gets too hot are effective ways to protect yourself from sunburns and other heat-related illnesses.
- Soft Tissue Injuries – Soft tissue injuries such as burns, bruises, scrapes, and cuts are common on beaches. To protect your feet from hot sand and from debris you may not be able to see, avoid going barefoot as you walk across beaches or until you know you’re in a safe area.
- Diving Injuries – Diving injuries can cause a number of injuries to beachgoers, including serious injuries such as concussions (traumatic brain injuries) and spinal cord injuries that may result in paralysis. When diving, be aware that you can easily underestimate the depth of the water (especially with the tides of the ocean), and never dive downwards into shallow water.
- Drowning – Drowning and near-drowning events are some of the most serious injuries that can occur on beaches, which is why it is always critical to have a strong command of your swimming skills. To avoid these injuries, use the buddy system when swimming, supervise young children in the water, and swim at beaches with lifeguards on duty. Because many drownings and near-drownings involve swimmers who are caught in rip tides, you need to know how to spot these and how to react. As advised by the American Red Cross, you should avoid panicking when caught in rip tides, signal to people on shore that you need help, and attempt to swim calmly parallel to shore until you are free from the current, after which you can swim toward shore or float or tread water until you feel it is safe to continue swimming. Another important tip is to be aware of any signs that warn about rip currents or rough water or weather conditions where you’ll be swimming.
While some beach injuries may be hard to avoid, many are preventable and caused by the negligence of others – including other beachgoers or commercial businesses that may rent products, facilitate activities, or serve consumers on beaches. If another’s negligence led to your beach injury, you may have the right to seek justice and compensation for your injuries by pursuing a personal injury case against the at-fault party.
To learn more about beach injuries, personal injury lawsuits, and your rights, contact us for a FREE consultation. Levinson Axelrod, P.A. has experience representing victims injured on public beaches throughout the state, and proudly serves local residents and out-of-state tourists from office locations along the Jersey Shore in Belford, Howell, Brick and Forked River.