Who is Liable for Animal Attacks and Injuries in Florida?
One of the many questions clients ask when they visit one of our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers is what the definition of injury will mean for their personal injury case. Since we are a personal injury law firm located in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, our injury and accident attorneys have the answers you are searching for relating to how to give you the best opportunity to win your accident injury lawsuit. As a matter of fact, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys almost exclusively represent people who are bringing injury claims against people who were hurt in Broward county and the rest of south Florida.
This year another person was tragically killed by a wild animal in Florida. Alligators and other wildlife kill and injure people in Florida every year. In most cases, these incidents can be avoided.
Since 1948 at least twenty-five people were killed by Florida’s largest reptile, the alligator.
So, who is responsible if an alligator – or other wild animals – wanders onto your property and kills or seriously injures someone?
Unfortunately, it happened again. Recently, a woman who was walking her two dogs by the lake in Davie Florida was attacked by an alligator and killed.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (also referred to as the FWC) participated in the capture of a 12-foot alligator from the lake and found a woman’s arm inside its stomach. Sadly, according to reports, the husband of the woman who was killed asked her not to go near the lake that day.
This is a tragic and potentially avoidable death, unfortunately, begs the question – Is the property owner where the animal attack occurred responsible for the woman’s injuries?
In order to determine responsibility, we must first talk about general issues of law relating to property owner’s responsibility.
Generally, as a matter of law, Florida courts have diluted the distinctions between the categories of invitees and licensees, now recognizing two sub-categories of licensees: the invited licensee (“social guests”) and the uninvited licensee (“trespasser”).
These two categories of people are generally owed two specific duties by an owner or occupier of land:
- to use ordinary care in keeping the premises in a reasonably safe condition; and
- to give timely notice of latent or concealed perils which are known or should be known to the owner, but not known to the invitee.
The important issue in cases where a wild animal, such as an alligator, snake, coyote, etc. is whether there was “notice” to the property owner as to whether the wild animal has a tendency to come onto the property.
Under the law, the term “notice” can be either constructive or actual – however, this is an element to proving liability.
For instance, if you own property on a lake or canal and have seen alligators or snakes frequent your property then you certainly can be potentially liable if someone is hurt or killed by one of these wild creatures.
One way to limit or prevent responsibility for an animal attack is to post conspicuous warning signs or other notification to warn people on your property.
However, simply putting up a sign or other type of warning advising people there are wild animals on the property will not always make you immune from liability. If the injury occurred from a dog then there may be a different set of Florida laws regarding dogs, including “beware of dog” signs, and strict liability.
Wild animals can be such a serious problem that our government realized that it may even be important to allow its citizens the ability to clear their property of unwanted and possibly dangerous animals. Florida Administrative Code 68A-9.010 addresses trapping and removal of nuisance wildlife.
This alligator attack again brings light to the issues that we face regularly living near the Everglades and having wildlife abundant and everywhere in South Florida.
It is important to avoid going near any wild animal and to understand that you could be killed or seriously injured from the snakes that crawl on the ground, to the raccoon in your trash, to the alligator in the park.
If the unfortunate attack of an animal has happened to you or a loved one speak with attorney David Shiner today. You need to understand the legal options available to you under the law, helping with injuries, damages, or the unfortunate wrongful death.
We are available by phone 24/7 and your consultation is always 100% free. We can also be reached with a free online consultation by clicking here, a lawyer will immediately follow up with you.