If you live in Florida, you know how problematic alligators can be, but the same cannot be said of visiting tourists – especially those in “The Happiest Place on Earth.” For one family, unchecked alligators and a lack of warning signs caused a traumatic loss when a 7-foot-long alligator attacked a toddler who was building a sandcastle near the waters of Seven Seas Lagoon.
Since then, wildlife trappers have captured and removed at least 226 nuisance alligators from Walt Disney World property, leading local news outlets to question why the company didn’t act sooner. According to WKMG-TV News 6, Disney had an average of 23 alligators removed from the Disney World resort each year in the 8 years leading up to the tragic attack. The very next year, 83 alligators were removed from the resort – that’s nearly 4 times as many, and they certainly did not appear overnight.
Additionally, Disney did not install barriers or warning signs about alligators until after the 2-year-old child’s death. Witnesses report seeing large alligators in the water before the attack, and some weary guests even reported the problem to Disney employees. One man was rushing downstairs to warn children playing in ankle-deep water about the alligators when he heard the victim's mother scream. Sadly, the family building sandcastles on the beach was unaware of the alligator infestation and despite efforts to fight off the creature, their son’s life ended in an alligator’s jaws.
Although the family chose not to sue Disney for what they deemed a tragic accident, their child may have survived his vacation if the company simply warned them about the threat.
A Lawsuit Could Have Been Significant
The Tampa Bay Times says that Disney was aware of its dangerous alligator problem. Per the publication:
“There are so many alligators around the popular resort in Orlando that it could easily create its own gator farm.”
Locals were shocked to hear about the lack of warning signs on Disney’s property, and legal experts speculate that a lawsuit or court settlement would have been “considerable.” Disney understood the risk of alligators in its park because 6 or 7 were removed every day. Still, the company could have done more to keep people safe beforea child lost his life to a large alligator’s predatory instincts.
The fact that visitors were not warned of the monsters lurking under the water in Seven Seas Lagoon is textbook negligence, and the bereaved family could have easily sued.
Instead, the family created a charity to honor their son’s memory, and Disney doubled down on its alligator safety protocol. At the time of writing, no other alligator-related deaths had been reported.
What Happens When You Get Hurt on Someone Else’s Property?
Whether the property owner failed to warn you about an alligator problem or created an unsafe condition while you were visiting, you may be entitled to compensation if you get hurt on someone else’s property. Like Disney had a duty to keep its guest safe from alligators, the owner of any home or business you visit has a duty to keep you safe.
If you slip, trip, fall, or otherwise sustain an injury on someone else’s property, Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC can help you handle the aftermath. From finding out what went wrong to helping you pay your medical bills; we are here for you – 24/7.