The girl that pried open the jaws of an alligator to escape in Orlando on Saturday is recovering well.
The gator, almost nine feet long, bit the girl’s calf and knee as she sat in about two feet of water in Lake Mary Jane. The girl wrenched open the gator’s mouth and pulled her leg out, according to the Orlando Sentinel. She told officials she fought off the alligator by poking it in the nostril, a tactic she learned at Gatorland, a theme park in Florida dedicated to wildlife conservation.
Decisive action helped save the day. “Got the child out of the water real quick,” Orange County Parks and Recreation official Matt Suedmeyer said to the media. “Grabbed the child, notified everybody to get out of the water, while the lifeguards were blowing the whistles. It was just a joint effort by the patrons.”
Authorities captured and euthanized the alligator shortly after the Moss Park attack. Alligators are known predators, particularly in the Orlando area. Last year the media buzzed about an incident at the Grand Floridian Resort owned by Disney when a gator dragged a toddler into the hotel’s Seven Seas Lagoon. Divers recovered the boy’s body a day later. Another woman lost her arm to an alligator attack on the Wekiva River in 2015.
Alligators Are No Joke
Alligators are an unlikely but important aspect of premises liability, particularly in Florida. Many establishments like parks, golf courses, and theme parks keep them for conservation or entertainment purposes — although Moss Park isn’t one of them. Sometimes, these organizations don’t take this responsibility seriously, and those alligators can end up injuring visitors. Those businesses have a responsibility to keep you safe.
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Disney received a bevy of concerns and criticism following last year’s attack, and has since erected signs and other deterrents to try and prevent a future attack, according to CNN. These precautions may better keep humans from unintentionally aggravating alligators, but don’t stop the reality that gators may still attack humans. Companies may be liable if alligators are knowingly or even unknowingly present and they fail to secure their property.
Premises liability arises when a business or organization fails to secure its property for visitors. A premises liability lawsuit allows patrons or customers injured in public spaces or business places to recover damages for their injuries. It seeks to recognize an owner had an obligation to protect their property from a cause of injury. These can range from slip-and-fall accidents, common in many grocery stores and restaurants, to mass shootings and even alligator attacks.
Alligator attacks are only one potential instance of premises liability. A qualified attorney can investigate your circumstances and learn about your case’s potential.
Moss Park will stay closed following the gator attack. Florida Fish & Wildlife and the Orange County Parks & Recreation Division will evaluate the area and discuss reopening the waterfront later this week, according to Suedmeyer.
(Editor’s Note: This is a news story from the ‘Morgan Monitor,’ a news wire offering legal perspectives on news in your community.)
Feature Photo: A screenshot of an ABC report showing the alligator.