Legal Issues Surrounding the Tragic Alligator Attack at Disney

When we take our families to amusement parks and themed parks like Disney, we expect that the experience will not only be fun and enjoyable but also safe for the ones we love. However, the incident with the incident involving a toddler and an alligator ended in tragedy and may have been preventable.  So now what will Disney do?  What legal rights does this family have to get answers for their horrible loss?

According to reports, the toddler was wading in the shallows of the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa around 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday when an alligator grabbed him and pulled him under the water. His father, Matt Graves, rushed into the water and sustained lacerations on his hand in an attempt to fight off the alligator. He then summoned a lifeguard from a nearby pool, who was also unable to rescue the boy. After a 16-hour search, the boy’s deceased body was discovered fully intact – just 15 yards from where he was taken.

Disney, like any hotel operator has a duty to keep their guest safe.  A duty to warn the guest of any known dangers.  We all feel that places like Disney are so secure it is very understandable how a family from outside the area would be oblivious to the dangers lurking in that lake. It appears there were signs that read “no swimming” posted in the area but no signage warning of alligators, a Disney spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE. Orange County Sheriff, Jerry Demings say that, “The boy was splashing in about 6 inches to one foot of water at the time of the attack. I believe what this 2-year-old was doing was perhaps what any 2-year-old would be doing.”

If the case isn’t resolved, the key issue will be whether Disney knew there were alligators in the water or should have known they were likely in there.  Also, if they did know, did they adequately warn the guest of the dangers?  If they were aware of the dangers a mere “no swimming” sign is not likely a sufficient warning.

At a press conference, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley said that the resort routinely removes alligators from the lagoon.  It is believed that Disney had  a full-time employee  observing these waters and if they see alligators the Wildlife Commission was called to remove the animals.  If this program did exist, then it is fairly strong evidence that Disney was award of the danger yet they made the area inviting to their guest by placing beach chairs and umbrellas at the edge of the lagoon and encouraged guests to enjoy the space for recreational purposes without adequately warning them about the gators. It just doesn’t seem that a “no swimming” sign is anywhere close to a sign saying to stay out of the waters due to alligators.  There are all sorts of conceivable reason a resort would put up a “no swimming” sign that are not related to dangerous alligators.  Further, the boy was not swimming.  He was simple wading in the water.

Walt Disney Resorts Vice President Jacquee Wahler said that the Grand Floridian resort was reviewing its existing signage.      “All of our beaches are currently closed, and we are conducting a swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols,” the statement said. “This includes the number, placement and wording of our signage and warnings.”   The Florida Department of Environmental protection posts warning signs that alligators are present, not just in swimming areas, but walkways in state parks, a spokesman tells PEOPLE.

It is likely that Disney will offer a settlement to the Graves family and try to resolve the case without going to trial.  Hopefully that can be done, to put this legal matter behind the family.

If someone you care about has been seriously injured or died after an accident at a theme park or other similar location and feel that the company is responsible, then you should contact a caring and knowledgeable Nashville personal injury lawyers at The Higgins Firm. We will review your claim and work hard to make sure that you receive any compensation that may be rightfully yours for what you have been through. We will also make sure the party responsible is held accountable for their actions.



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