Just last month, a two-year-old boy was killed after he was pulled by an alligator into a lagoon near a Walt Disney World hotel in Florida. The boy’s body was later found intact about 10 to 15 yards from where he was attacked. It is believed the boy ultimately drowned in the water where the alligator left him.
In another case, a three-year-old child fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. The 450-pound gorilla inside dragged the boy across the space inside. About 10 minutes later, zoo officials made the difficult decision to shoot the gorilla to safely retrieve the child.
Going back to the toddler who died from the alligator attack at Disney, can his family sue?
This would depend on whether or not Disney knew about alligators living in the lagoon. Under Florida law, the family of the deceased toddler can file a wrongful death claim against Disney World Corporation if they had actual or constructive knowledge that a dangerous condition existed on the premises. Constructive knowledge refers to knowledge that a party is presumed to have because it is obtainable through the exercise of reasonable care.
The Walt Disney Corporation has a duty to warn guests of dangers it knows about or should have known about. As a general rule, the liability of a property owner depends on the status of the injured person. Paying customers who are invited onto the land are considered ‘invitees’ and are owed the highest duty of care under the law.
In Florida, a property owner owes the following duties to an invitee: the duty to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition and the duty to warn of hidden dangers that should have been known to the property owner, are unknown to the invitee, and can’t be discovered through the use of due care.
While there were “no swimming” signs posted in the area, there were no specific warnings pertaining to alligators. Furthermore, there were seats placed on the sand near the water, inviting guests to recreationally enjoy the space. These factors could sway a jury in favor of the boy’s family. Ultimately, however, the outcome will come down to the specific facts of the case.
In terms of damages, the parents may be able to establish the emotional harm that they will suffer over the course of their lifetime due to the tragic loss of their son. In addition, they will likely be able to recover funeral costs, burial costs, and other expenses related to the death.
At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our Miami premises liability attorneys have the skill, knowledge, and determination to handle your case. We understand that personal injury cases can have serious and long-lasting consequences for your entire family. You can rest assured that we can vigorously advocate for your rights and try to get you the maximum amount of compensation allowable under the law. We proudly represent clients throughout South Florida. To learn more, do not hesitate to call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or reach out to us online today.
More Blog Posts:
Subrogation in Florida Personal Injury Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 22, 2016
Property Owner May Owe Duty of Care for Landscaped Areas in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 22, 2016
Roundabout Accidents in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 22, 2016