Liability for Animal Attacks in Florida
Personal Injury Lawyer Representing Victims of Animal Attacks
With the alligator attack of the two-year-old boy at Disney, people are
wondering whether Disney is liable since there was a ‘no swimming’
sign in the water. Dan Cytryn, the founding attorney of our law firm,
was interviewed by
USA Today regarding the Disney gator attack stating: “The exposure is phenomenal”,
hotel operators “have a duty to protect (guests) from unreasonable
risk of physical harm.”
The alligator attack took place at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa at
Disney World. The family of the two-year-old boy was hanging out by the
resort’s man-made lagoon when the child began wade into the water.
Suddenly, an alligator attacked the child. The boy’s father tried
to grab him from the alligator but was unsuccessful. Unfortunately the
gator dragged the boy into the water. The next day, the child was found
dead from drowning and injuries.
There is no parental responsibility for a family from Nebraska who may
have never seen a sign saying "No swimming" who thought their
child was wading into a man-made lake. Parachuting, parasailing, and swimming/scuba
diving with sharks is not wading ankle deep into a lake at a resort. In
spite of that, Florida courts hold that when a swimmer ignores “No
swimming” signs, that is the sole reason for their injuries.
In most circumstances, landowners are not automatically liable for wild
animal attacks. Nevertheless, each case is circumstantial so exceptions
can be made. When an individual pays money to stay on a property owner’s
land, that person is considered an “invitee.”
Under Florida law, the property owner has two responsibilities to the “invitee” -
- (1) the duty to use reasonable care in maintaining the property in a safe
- (2) the duty to warn latent or concealed dangers that the owner knows about.
Specifically with regards to wild animals, Florida law does not require
the landowner to anticipate their existence. Since alligators are native
to Florida, property owners are not automatically responsible for them.
However, if the property owner has previous knowledge about their presence,
the property owners could be found negligent.
This is not the first time that there was an alligator attack in Disney
World. In 1986, an eight year old boy was injured when he was attacked
by a gator at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness close to where the
recent attack occurred. In that attack, the boy was watching ducks when
a gator grabbed him by the leg. Fortunately, the boy survived the attack
because his older sister grabbed him from his underarms while his older
brother hit the alligator until he released him.
In response to this tragic accident, Disney put up fences, barriers, and
added new signs stating, “Danger! Alligators and snakes in the area.
Stay away from the water. Do not feed the wildlife.” The family
of the two-year-old boy has decided not to sue Disney. Instead, they created
the Lane Thomas foundation in his memory which donates funds to charities.
If you or someone you know was injured in an animal attack, call our
personal injury law firm now at
(954) 833-1440 for your free consultation. If you have a case, we will advise you on
the next steps you should take.