In Orlando, Florida, there was the recent tragedy of a child who was attacked on the grounds of a Disney Resort. While visiting Disney’s Luxe Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, a family had been relaxing by the beaches when their two-year old son decided to start playing on the shore of the seven seas lagoon. While there were signs posted that stated to stay out of the water, the family did not pay attention to them. Only a few minutes later, the child was snatched by an alligator and tugged into the water.
The child’s father did attempt to fight off the beast to get his child back, but lost the child. The alligator took the child with him under the water and, while the search began immediately, the child was not found until 16 hours later. When found, the child was already deceased. Officials decided that the child passed away from drowning, and it was determined that his body was still intact. The question afterward was whether or not this horrific event could have been prevented by the parents, or even Disney World? Should they have taken proactive measures to prevent such a situation from occurring? Could this be a case of premise liability?
Yes, it could be.
Premise liability is an area of the law that is defined as the legal principles that hold landowners and their tenants responsible when a person enters the property and is harmed due to a dangerous, preventable condition. Depending on the person who is injured and his or her purpose for entering the property, the victim could be entitled to compensation under Connecticut law – or in this case, Florida law. If the plaintiff was to enter a property uninvited or illegally, then he or she is considered to be trespassing, and not entitled to compensation.
Anyone who approaches a property by invitation is considered a guest or “licensee” under premise liability law. The plaintiff who is a customer or one who is exchanging business transactions is labeled as “invitee,” and he or she receives a layer of protection from the defendant – which is the defendant’s duty of care to the invitees.
This doctrine was designed to ensure that people visiting businesses or other people’s homes were protected from preventable harm. The duty of care is the way for the plaintiff to exercise these rights when they are injured because of a dangerous condition on someone’s property.
While the resort cannot control wildlife – and they did post signs stating that people should not swim – the accident could still be an issue of premise liability. The issue here is why the resort would allow people to have close access to live alligators. They posted the signs knowing that there was still the potential for an alligator attack; therefore, they should have taken precautions to prevent people from entering the water – this should not have stopped at just posting signs. Also, Florida residents know that alligator attacks do not just happen in the water; they could occur on the beach, too. Not only was it reckless for Disney to allow people near a lake that was known to inhabit live alligators, but they should have seen the dangers of those beasts and prevented people from going near them.
This is especially true when you consider the people visiting the Disney Resort. Most are not from Florida; therefore, they wouldn’t understand the dangers of alligators in the water or on land near water. Florida law states that they owe a duty of care to how invitees should be treated. Therefore, Disney Resort should have taken into account the fact that most of their invitees would be unaware of the risk of alligators.
If you or a loved one was injured on someone’s property, you may be entitled to compensation under the law. You will need to contact a Connecticut premise liability attorney first to explore your options.