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Premises Liability And Wildlife

Every year, millions visit Florida to enjoy the many attractions, beautiful weather, and great scenery. Catching a glimpse of the wildlife here is also a wonderful experience, but what happens if one of the animals in the region injuries someone while in a public place or on private property?

It’s a question that is often overlooked, though the tragedy that occurred at Disney back in June of 2016 has brought it into the forefront of our minds. While that family has announced that they won’t be seeking compensation, many may find that they are in a situation where seeking compensation for injuries is the only way to get their financial stability back on track. In these cases, animal related injuries fall under premises liability law.

Premises liability in Florida can be difficult to fully understand, and when wildlife is involved it can become even trickier. For these types of cases, it’s important to be able to turn to a skilled personal injury lawyer who can help. However, understanding some basics is still a good idea.

The Question Of Fault

One of the first things to understand here is that fault begins with determining who is to blame for the injury. The wild animal is obviously the entity that holds the largest share of blame, but what about the property owner or the person who was injured?

Numerous considerations exist here. For example, if the person who was injured was acting in a way that increased their risk and they knowingly did so, they likely can’t seek compensation since their own actions are largely to blame. For example, wandering off a paved walkway into wooded areas and being snakebite or trying to ‘pet’ an alligator to show off to friends are both real-life examples where a person has knowingly increased their risk of injury.

The basics are this – in order to seek compensation for injuries sustained due to a wild animal on someone else’s property, it must be shown that the person injured wasn’t doing anything to reasonably suspect that an injury occurred.

However, there’s something else to consider here as well – what steps the property owner took prior to the injuries.

A Property Owner’s Responsibility

Seeking compensation really comes down to determining whether or not the property owner acted in the way that the law requires them to. Under Florida law, property owners who are aware of potential risks must do what they can to prevent them and to warn visitors to their property of the danger.

For example, if a property owner is aware of alligator issues in their ponds, then taking steps to install fencing to prevent the alligators from entering the area or placing fencing to prevent guests from entering the pond is important. Installing signage is another step that must be taken.

The key thing to understand is that if a property owner had no way of knowing about a potential animal problem, they likely can’t be held responsible for injuries caused by it.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, premises liability law related to wildlife can be incredibly complex and is one of the most difficult aspects of the law to understand – and to prove. If you’ve been injured in an accident involving an animal, your only real option is speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Our team has offices throughout Florida, and are ready to help you if you’ve been injured. The first step is figuring out whether or not you have the grounds to seek compensation, so contact our team today to set up your free initial consultation and learn more.