Linda McGiness-Pleines is lucky to be alive. The Poway woman was sunbathing on Torrey Pines State Beach when, without any warning, her head was run over by a California State Lifeguard truck. McGiness-Pleines told reporters that she was lying face down on her towel in the sand when the front right tire of the lifeguard truck ran right over her head and neck..
“I heard all this crunching. After it came off of me and I was able to open my mouth and speak, I started screaming” she told 10News.
McGiness-Pleines first thought she had broken her neck. The crunching noise, it turned out, was her jaw and ribs, both suffering fractures. She also has injuries to her right shoulder and possibly her spinal cord.
How it happened is still unclear. Lifeguards have reported, lamely, that it was a busy day and that several rescues had been made, implying that the driver was tired at the time of the accident. An investigation into exactly what happened is ongoing, but it’s clear this is a case of negligence on the part of the lifeguards.
“Everybody’s telling me I’m lucky that I lived, but I shouldn’t be here,” McGiness-Pleines said. “It shouldn’t have happened.”
If McGiness-Pleines wanted to bring a legal action against the state lifeguard service she would first need to file a claim with the appropriate state agency. Under California’s government tort claim law, anytime a person wants to sue a public entity of any kind, be it the state, city, public school, or any other publicly funded agency, it must first file a claim with the relevant agency within six months of the date of the incident. The agency then has 45 days to accept or reject the claim – they always reject – after which the claimant has six months to file a lawsuit. Failing to follow these procedures could bar the claimant from bringing a personal injury lawsuit in the matter.