The Sunshine State plays host to millions of visitors each year who come to the area lured by our temperate climate, scenic landscape, and abundance of attractions. Unfortunately, vacationers have a tendency to let their guards down, and any time you have large numbers of people unfamiliar with their surroundings there is always the chance for an increase in accidents and injuries. Unfortunately, the death of a toddler at a major Orlando attraction called attention to not only the potential dangers Florida’s natural habitat can pose to visitors, but also to the obligation resorts and other destinations within the state have towards those who visit. Unfortunately, when these accidents do occur the results can be tragic and by law, it is generally the resort or attraction itself that is ultimately held accountable.

Disney World Tragedy

While most Florida residents are all too familiar with the number of alligators within the state and the dangers they pose, tourists and visitors to our area are often either unaware of their presence, or downplay the dangers posed by these predators. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge proved tragic for one Nebraska couple, whose young child was dragged off and drowned by an alligator while the family was vacationing at Walt Disney World in June 2016. According to CNN news reports, the two-year-old was wading in the Seven Seas Lagoon while waiting for an evening outdoor movie to be shown on the beach at the Grand Floridian Resort, when a four to seven-foot alligator grabbed the child and dragged him into the water. Despite rescue efforts, the toddler drowned and was not located until the following day. The fact that the attack happened at 9:00 p.m., the child was the only one in the water, and the area had signs prohibiting swimming all raised a social media storm over who ultimately was responsible for the child’s death: the parents, or the resort.

Premises Liability and Responsibility for the Attack

While some on social media claim the parents were to blame for allowing the child to venture into waters clearly labelled as off limits, others feel that Disney should have been more vigilant, both in providing signs warning of the gators and erecting barriers, as well as in ridding the lagoon of alligators in light of the number of guests the resort hosts and its family friendly atmosphere. According to legal analysts with Fox News, Disney is likely to be found liable for millions of dollars in damages if a wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the parents, and it is likely the resort will choose to offer the couple a settlement with a confidentiality clause to avoid further negative publicity. Under Florida premises liability laws, the owners of property held open to the public have a legal duty to take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of their guests, including warning them of dangerous conditions that exist and taking the necessary steps to prevent injury.

Contact Us for Help 

If you or a loved one is injured as the result of a dangerous condition or an accident that occurs in a public place, contact our experienced Florida injury attorneys. At Hogan Frick, we can help to ensure your rights and interests are protected, while assisting you in getting the compensation you deserve.