Recent Alligator Lawsuits in Florida

It’s one thing to get attacked by a neighbor’s dog. You may end up with some nasty cuts and tears. But it’s quite a different matter when you’re attacked by an alligator. Now, very few people keep alligators as pets. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about parks and state property where alligators roam.

There are about 1.3 million alligators in Florida. They used to be considered an endangered species. But thanks to the population boom in the Sunshine State, this not so majestic creature is now abundance.

This means that, at any time, you could encounter an alligator. Most people would panic. And this could be good or bad. There’s no telling what will set an alligator off. If you or your little one run into an alligator, there’s a chance that you could get attacked.

There are so many alligators down in Florida that there is something called the Florida Alligator Management Program. They won’t even come out to trap or capture an alligator unless it’s more than 4 feet long.

One reason why it’s illegal to feed alligators in Florida is because they are so prone to attack. If your loved one has been attacked by an alligator in Florida, you should contact a personal injury lawyer in Fort Walton Beach.

Silver Lake Rotary Nature Park Has One Very Hungry Alligator

In 2018, a woman was walking her dogs on a trail at Silver Lake Rotary Nature Park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A few hours later, she hadn’t returned home. Her son called the authorities. They had received a report of two dogs wandering around the park unleashed. Sadly, these dogs belonged to Shizuka Matsuki.

Shizuka had been attacked by a 12-foot alligator in the park. The park rangers located the alligator that same day and found pieces of Shizuka’s body inside the creature. They determined that the alligator had attacked Shizuka and eaten her whole.

Her son decided to file suit against the town. He argued that park management was negligent in failing to warn guests that there were alligators on the loose. Had his mother been aware that there were alligators, she wouldn’t have walked her dogs in the park. Or, she would’ve at least been on the alert for the beasts.

Shortly after Shizuka’s son, Katana Soto filed suit, warning signs appeared all over Siler Lake Rotary Nature Park.

Boy Attacked at Disney’s Seven Seas Lagoon

A few years ago, a family was vacationing at Disney in Orlando, Florida. They visited the Grand Floridian Hotel where they have the Seven Seas Lagoon. The boy was attacked by an alligator. It didn’t eat him. However, it did bite him and he fell in the water and drowned.

At first, Lane Graves family stated they were not going to file suit. However, they changed their mind and later filed suit against Disney for an undisclosed amount of damages. A large part of their claim was based on the pain and suffering experienced by the little boy and his family.

Shortly after the boy’s parents filed suit, Disney settled in a separate lawsuit filed on behalf of Lane’s sister. She claimed emotional distress as a result of seeing her brother attacked. Disney settled with her for $50,000.

When Lane passed away, his parents opened up an estate. Since the boy clearly had no assets, the assumption was that they had every intention of filing suit. This past year, the estate had an undisclosed deposit. Most legal experts believe this is due to a settlement reached between the Graves family and Disney.

Although the settlement amount has not been released, it’s believed to have been about $10 million.

South Carolina Family Killed in Car Crash with Alligator

Although this case didn’t happen in Florida, it’s worth mentioning. The events that took place that day for the Stanley family were extremely odd. Had things happened just a bit differently, Josh Stanley may still have his family with him today.

The Stanley family was on their way to Myrtle Beach from their home in Florida. While on I-95, an alligator ran in front of the car. In an effort to avoid hitting the alligator, Josh swerved. The car ended up hitting a tree and burst into flames.

Josh was unable to pull his family from the car. His wife, Amber, just 24 years old passed away in the crash. So did his son Jack (4) and his little girl Autumn (2). It was clear that the group had died rather quickly after the crash.

Josh Stanley filed a personal injury lawsuit against several parties:

  • The South Carolina Department of Transportation – Stanley's personal injury attorney argued that the DOT was negligent in failing to install a fence to keep alligators off the road. They also argued that the DOT should have removed the tree from the median on the highway.
  • KIA Motor Corporation – The Stanley family had purchased their car from Kia Motors. They argued that something must have been defective with the car. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have erupted into flames upon impact. His lawyer also argued that there was no emergency unlocking device on the car. Had there been, Josh may have been able to rescue his family from inside the burning car.

Stanley demand a variety of damages in his lawsuit, including:

  • Lost wages for both himself and future lost wages for his late wife
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of support and companionship

Since the accident just took place recently, the case is still pending in the South Carolina Courts.

How Can Someone Be Responsible for the Actions of Alligators?

It may seem odd that a company or town could be held liable for the actions of an alligator. It doesn’t seem fair to hold a company responsible for the behavior of a wild animal. However, when the attack takes place on private property or in a public park, someone needs to be held accountable.

Some of the things a town or business is expected to do to keep guests and visitors safe include:

  • Posting warning signs that alligators may be on the premises
  • Putting up barricades or fencing to keep the alligators away from people
  • Posting animal control guards in places known to have alligators
  • Limit entry to people over a certain age or height

In order to prove negligence, your Fort Walton Beach personal injury lawyer has to show the following four (4) things:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care
  • They breached this duty
  • You were injured
  • Your injuries were caused by their breach

In a situation involving wild animals, it can be very difficult to prove negligence. In most cases, the park did take measures to protect their visitors. Nobody wants to see innocent people hurt – especially children.

What Kinds of Damages Can Your Fort Walton Beach Lawyer Demand?

If you do get attacked by an alligator or any other type of animal, you may be entitled to damages. Now, in order to get any compensation, your lawyer has to prove negligence. If they manage to do this, you can demand the following types of damages:

  • Medical Bills – You're entitled to both current and future medical bills. This includes hospital bills, co-pays, chiropractic care, and prescriptions. You can expect to be reimbursed for any out of pocket medical bills you experienced. You can also be compensated for future medical bills. If your animal attack leaves you with long-term medical issue, you may demand future damages. Your Fort Walton Beach personal injury lawyer will submit evidence of how much it’ll cost you for this future care.
  • Lost Wages – If you miss a lot of time from work, you can demand to be reimbursed. Your lawyer will submit copies of your timesheets and payroll records. You have a right to be compensated for any missed time. You can also demand lost future earnings. If you end up permanently disabled, you’ll end up on disability. You won’t earn anything near what you would’ve earned if you were working full-time.
  • Pain and Suffering – In these types of cases, pain and suffering may make up a lion’s share of your settlement. These damages are meant to compensate you for the mental and physical mental anguish caused by your injuries. In situations like those described above, you can imagine how much the victims suffered mental anguish. They should be compensated for this.

Contact an Experienced Fort Walton Beach Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or your loved one are injured in any sort of animal attack, you should contact an experienced Fort Walton Beach personal injury lawyer. They'll review your case and let you know how much it may be worth. They can also answer any questions you may have.

Call today and schedule your free initial consultation. You can sit down with a skilled lawyer who understands how to prove these cases. The defendant will have a team of lawyers working for them. And you should too. The consultation is absolutely free and you pay nothing until your case settles.

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