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Understanding Liability in Zoo Accidents and How to Seek Damages

The zoo is among the most popular destinations for families with kids. Many families visit the zoo for educational purposes and relaxation. However, like any other park, accidents can also happen in a zoo. However, the animals are not the usual cause of these accidents. In most incidents, the causes are usually ordinary hazards. Slips and falls on wet surfaces, defective equipment, physical assaults, and attacks by visitors are what usually cause zoo accidents.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a zoo accident, you might be entitled to a zoo accident claim. However, it is not a straightforward claim. You must prove negligence on the part of the zoo’s management or security to successfully file a claim. In this article, we’ll help you in understanding your rights after getting injured at a zoo and give you some tips on how to sue for damages successfully.

Common Injuries in a Zoo Accident

It is common for zoos around the country to have a large number of visitors each year. With many people in one place, there is a high risk of accidents and injuries happening due to a multitude of reasons – from animal bites to general hazards. Among the most common injuries that people sustain in a zoo accident include mauling from a loose animal, infections from bites, broken bones from a slip and fall accident, and more.

What to Do If You Get Injured in A Zoo

Like amusement parks, zoos need to have a heightened duty of care and are responsible for ensuring the well-being of all visitors. However, if you still get injured for some reason, here are some steps you need to take:

  • Make sure to report the accident. It is important to report the accident to the management or authorities at the zoo. Ask the closest zookeeper or staff member you can find to help you make the report. Reporting the incident is not only for your protection but also for the protection of others in case of a loose animal.

  • Gather enough information. You need to make sure that you have all the information you need to file a legal claim. If you can, document the scene of the accident by taking photos or videos. You should also ask the zookeeper for animal records and vaccine records, as these can help with your treatment. If possible, you should also ask for the names and contact information of possible witnesses.

  • Don’t forget to seek medical attention. If you weren’t taken to the emergency room for treatment, make sure to seek immediate medical care after you leave the zoo. Even if you look and feel fine, you still need to get checked to ensure that there are no internal injuries.

  • Get a lawyer’s help. If you are filing for a claim, make sure to consult a lawyer. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the process of filing a claim and ensuring you get fair compensation.

When to File a Zoo Accident Claim

After receiving treatments for your injuries, you may start thinking about filing a claim to seek compensation. There’s no rush in filing because the usual statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years.

The time limit starts counting either from the day of the accident or the day you realized that you suffered injuries because of the accident. That should give you enough time to gather evidence and build a solid case of proving negligence (if any) on the part of the zoo.

You need to understand that you must meet some requirements to be eligible for compensation. For one, you must prove that you suffered an injury as a result of negligence. Your claim needs to include sufficient evidence to demonstrate such negligence on the other party’s end.

Types of Damages You Can Claim in a Zoo Accident

If you’ve been injured in a zoo accident, it is within your rights to seek compensation. Are you wondering what and how much you can claim? You must understand that each claim has different circumstances that determine the amount of compensation you can get from your claim. Here are the categories:

  • General Damages. These are compensation based on your actual injury or the illness you suffered as a result of the zoo accident. The bulk of the settlement you will receive is often from general damages. It also covers compensation for physical pain or any suffering that you’ve experienced as a result of the accident. Emotional distress and the long-term effects of the injury are also calculated in general damages.

  • Special Damages. These cover anything else that you are entitled to receive compensation for. The settlement shall cover medical bills and special circumstances, such as domestic help, medication, and cost of care.

  • Loss of Earnings. This covers compensation for any loss of earnings and benefits caused by being unable to work or do business because of the illness or injuries you suffered from the zoo accident.

Possible Zoo Defenses to Escape Liability

As a defense, the zoo’s management may claim that they are not liable for your injuries or the accident on their premises. Here are possible reasons:

  • Immunity granted by the government. Most zoos are maintained by government agencies; thus, most zoos have government immunity from tort liability. This means that they cannot be held liable for injuries within the zoo’s property, even if they are at fault.

  • Contributory negligence. Zoos can also claim that the injured party has contributory negligence. This means that the victim may have done something that contributed to the cause of the accident or the severity of the injury. For example, this includes knowingly placing yourself in a dangerous position within the zoo premises. In cases like this, the court may deny your claim or grant only a partial amount of the original claim.

  • Assumption of risk. In some states, zoo visitors are informed that visiting their premises means they assume the risk in case something dangerous happens during their stay at the zoo. As such, victims of zoo accidents may not be eligible to recover damages for any injury.

Zoo Accidents and Liability Law

While it’s not very common, zoo accidents happen and can be serious. So, who is liable if you get injured in a zoo accident? In general, liability depends on the specifics of the incident but follows premises liability laws. What this means is that the zoo has the ultimate duty to provide a safe environment for visitors. Therefore, they can be held responsible for injuries if they are negligent in keeping the zoo premises safe.

You can consult a personal injury lawyer to help you navigate the complex process of filing for a personal liability claim. An expert lawyer should also be able to advise you on the best course of action, whether you are seeking damages for lost wages, medical bills, or pain and suffering.

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