During the past week, I have lectured and written on the issue of negligence, child injuries, and the unfortunate and tragic incident that took place at the Walt Disney World Resort – Orlando where a 2 year old child was attacked and ultimately drowned by an alligator. It has been reported that there were “No Swimming” signs posted in or near the area. Some people, who I have spoken to, believe that this fact should then be a bar to recovery if there is a claim or case pursued by the parents of the child who died. Florida is a state that has adopted a Comparative Fault system for the pursuit and trial of personal injury cases. In other words, even if an injury victim is comparatively or partially at fault, there can still be a case pursued on behalf of the injury victim and / or the injury victim’s family. It should also be noted that there are some special laws in place in Florida when a child is injured. For instance, in the State of Florida, a child under the age of 6 years old cannot be held liable, responsible, or partially at fault as a matter of law. As such, a 2 year old cannot be comparatively at fault as a matter of law even though there were “No Swimming” signs that were posted. However, a parent, as a third party of sorts, can be held liable, responsible, or partially at fault if the parent’s actions or inactions contributed in whole or part to the situation or incident taking place.
As for the Disney alligator attack, it has been reported that there were “No Swimming” signs posted. The family of the 2 year old were from Nebraska and may not have been aware of the presence of alligators throughout the State of Florida in its rivers, lakes, canals, ponds, and lagoons. Furthermore, the sign read “No Swimming”. The reason for the posting of the sign could have included any of the following:
*There was no regular lifeguard in the area.