Estate Sues After 55+ Resident Killed by Gator
A resident in a 55+ gated community was killed while tending her garden after an alligator attacked her. Her estate has since filed a lawsuit against the gated community on the grounds of negligent security.
While rare, non-humans can work their way into a negligent security lawsuit. While you cannot sue an alligator, you can sue a property owner if they fail to provide adequate protection to invitees or residents. In fact, landlord negligent security lawsuits are among the most common types of negligent security suits you see filed in Florida courts. The majority, however, involve human assailants and not reptiles.
Act of God?
It’s fair for the defendant to say that an animal attack is an act of chance and not something that they could necessarily prevent. However, it’s more than likely that the gated community had reports of gator activity prior to the attack. If so, they will find almost no grounds on which to defend this lawsuit. As soon as they had notice of the alligator’s presence, they had an obligation to correct the issue within a reasonable amount of time. If the community had taken reasonable steps to remove the alligator, the plaintiffs likely wouldn’t have much of a case.
If the problem was known, but unreported, the gated community’s duty of care would be reduced, but not eliminated. If the attack is part of a novel migration for alligators then the defendant may argue that this was an unfortunate Act of God which could not have been foreseen nor avoided.
Who will win?
We don’t have all the facts, but the matter is tilting the way of the plaintiff. A gated community in a 55+ residence located in a state known for its alligators would have a duty of care to protect residents from gator attacks. This seems to be a mere matter of “gating” your community from alligators. So, alligator removal falls on the defendant, and protecting residents from potential attacks does as well.
The lone avenue of defense is that the responsibility does not fall on the gated community because there is no way to predict an alligator attack. In certain instances, that would be a good argument, but again, a 55+ gated community sells themselves on peace of mind for residents. Obviously, they failed to provide that peace of mind and now all of the residents are waiting to see how the company responds. Certainly, those in the community want to be able to tend their gardens without fear of being eaten by reptiles.
Talk to a Tampa Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Palmer | Lopez files wrongful death lawsuits and personal injury lawsuits for Tampa residents who have been injured or killed by professional negligence. Call our Tampa personal injury lawyers today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your case immediately.