Can You Claim Compensation for Zoo Accidents?

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Visiting a zoo or national park may be a fun experience with family and friends, but you can still get hurt in an encounter. In fact, in the last 26 years, there have been an average of 256 injuries in zoos due to animal attacks.

If you or anybody you know has been injured during a visit to the zoo owing to the operator’s negligence, you are eligible to claim compensation. This depends on the severity of the injury, state laws, and more.

In this article, you will understand the legal intricacies of zoo accidents. This guide also talks about the types of accidents that can happen at the zoo, the eligibility criteria, and how much compensation you can claim from it. 

Can You Claim Compensation for Zoo Accidents

Zoo Operator’s Duty of Care

According to the Zoo Licensing Act of 1981, the Occupiers Liability Act of 1984, and the Health & Safety at Work Act of 1984 mandate, there is a precise duty of care that zoo operators and other employees in the vicinity must comply with.

Duty of care by zoo operators must be exercised by:

  • Ensuring the staff receives proper health and safety training in first aid and emergency care, including necessary updates on health laws
  • Maintaining proper fencing and barriers to avoid the risk of injury and to safeguard the animals in their respective enclosures
  • Using warning signs, proper signage, and other guided material for customers to remain aware
  • Providing personal protective clothing, carrying out risk assessments, and providing appropriate emergency treatments, like anti-venom

If a zoo operator fails to ensure any of the above, the facility and the staff become liable for any injuries sustained by a customer during their visit.

Zoo Accidents That Cause Personal Injury

Most zoo accidents occur as a result of negligence.

For instance, children can get injured when trying to feed animals in the absence of a zoo operator. According to a 2019 report, a two-year-old girl fell into the Rhino Exhibit at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida.

Check out these examples of accidents that are likely to take place at the zoo or a national park:

  • People can get injured when an animal escapes their cage, often involving animal bites, stings, and broken bones.
  • People can trip and fall over because of a damaged handrail or any other infrastructure that has deteriorated over time.
  • People can fall into an animal enclosure if the fencing or barrier is too weak or improperly maintained.
  • People or even the faculty at the zoo may fall sick when the working environment is not kept clean and tidy.
  • People can suffer severe injuries due to faulty fairground rides that are poorly maintained by the staff.

Major Types of Personal Injuries at the Zoo

Because of negligence, a wide variety of injuries are possible for an employee or customer at the zoo. According to a report by CNN, more than 33 victims have died from injuries sustained at the zoo in the last 26 years. 

Here are some common injuries that can happen at the zoo.   

Stings and Animal Bites

Though animal attacks are rare, they are more common in zoos that have an untrained and negligent workforce. People who visit the zoo can experience animal bites, stings, cuts and lacerations, and crush injuries. Some people may fall sick after visiting the zoo if exposed to a bacterial infection from the animal’s saliva or claws.

Slip, Trip, and Fall Injuries

Most zoo workers have to manage critical and heavy-duty work, like washing the animal stalls or feeding endangered animals in their enclosures. If they operate in hazardous and slippery conditions, employees can trip over hoses, boxes. and other objects as part of their routine, resulting in serious injuries like head trauma, fractures, and more.  

Allergic Reactions at the Zoo

Zoos are known to house a wide variety of allergens because of the various zoo animals, so it’s not uncommon for an animal handler or operator to fall sick. Some suffer from serious allergic reactions, including asthma, dermatitis, and other such conditions. An acute reaction to a zoo allergen may result in life-threatening anaphylactic shock.  

Soft Tissue Injuries

Musculoskeletal strains or soft tissue injuries are quite common for people who work at the zoo, including animal handlers. Zoo employees often complain about chronic pain because of a soft tissue injury that impacts the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of one or more body parts, including the ankles, neck and lower back, knees, elbows, wrists, and shoulders.

What to Do After a Zoo Accident?

  • Inform a staff member about the accident so they can officially record it.
  • Take photos and videos of the injuries sustained and the scene of the accident.
  • Capture statements about the accident from witnesses within the area.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if the injuries are life-threatening.
  • Collect evidence for loss of pay, medical needs, and time off from work.

Can You Claim Compensation for a Zoo Injury?

You have approximately three years to file a personal injury claim for a zoo accident from the date the accident took place. To be eligible for a zoo injury claim, you will first need to prove damage sustained under the following conditions:

  • Case of negligence by the staff members or zoo operators
  • Unsupervised encounter with a zoo animal because of negligence
  • An injury due to the state of negligence

Because all personal injury lawsuits are unique, the compensation awarded will also vary from case to case. For injuries sustained at the zoo, the compensation is determined based on two crucial factors: general and special damages.

  • General damages include the pain and suffering experienced as a result of the injuries. Emotional and mental trauma are primary factors in determining the compensation amount.
  • Special damages include all kinds of financial losses the victim may have suffered as a result of the injury/injuries, like medical bills and loss of earnings during recovery.

If you’ve been injured at the zoo because of an employee’s negligence of safety regulations or their lack of exercising duty of care, you are eligible for compensation. Personal injury lawsuits related to zoo accidents can easily be resolved with settlements.

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