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Driving Drugged: When Legal Prescriptions Cause Legal Headaches

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A recent USA Today report quoted the  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as stating there has been a steady uptick in the number of traffic fatalities – including those in which one or more of the drivers involved tested positive for having marijuana or other illicit drugs in their blood at the time of the crash. As disturbing as this trend is, one does not have to use an illegal substance to be guilty of “driving while drugged.” Even over-the-counter and prescription medications can lead to traffic crashes that maim or kill other motorists. When this occurs, victims and surviving family members must be prepared to uncover the identity of the drug consumed by the at-fault motorist and prove that even those drugs meant to help can cause harm if taken before driving.

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What To Do After a Suspected Drugged Driving Case

Drugged drivers often exhibit the same or similar symptoms as a driver who is under the influence of alcohol: drowsy, difficulty in maintaining balance and coordination, impaired judgment, and slow reflexes. They may swerve within their lane of travel, cross over multiple lanes, leave the road, or drive erratically when they are behind the wheel. The difference between an alcohol-impaired driver and a drug-impaired driver will be the absence of the odor of alcohol.

One of the best pieces of evidence that can be used to establish liability for a car accident when it is suspected that the driver used drugs prior to getting behind the wheel is the results of any blood tests performed by the hospital or law enforcement on the suspected drugged driver. These results are easily lost if it is not promptly and appropriately requested that they be saved and preserved. Your California car accident lawyer knows how to take this simple yet vital step.

Few Defenses in Drugged Driving Cases

Some drivers believe that because they were taking a “legal” over-the-counter or prescription medication that they are not liable for any car crash that occurred as the result of their use of the drug. This is patently false – even simply Tylenol or other over-the-counter drugs (not to mention prescription drugs) can result in liability for a car crash if the medication impaired the at-fault driver and that impairment led to the crash. The judge or jury will need to take into account any argument by the at-fault driver that he or she did not know how the medication would have impacted his or her ability to drive when determining the damages attributable to the at-fault driver.

Case Barnett Law, your Costa Mesa personal injury law firm, is available and able to provide professional, dedicated, and compassionate representation to victims who have been injured in a crash caused by a drugged driver. We aggressively build the best possible case for our clients from the moment we are retained so that our clients have the best opportunity of recovering full and fair compensation as quickly as possible. Call our office today at (940) 861-2990, or contact us online, if you or a loved one was injured in a car crash.

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Catastrophic Damage in Car Accident Cases Can Come from Tiny Culprits

 

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Last month an elderly California man was killed in a car accident. This tragic occurrence would not likely have gained must attention by the news but for the manner in which the accident occurred. The man was traveling northbound on the highway at about the time a state-owned Caltrans water truck was traveling that same highway, going southbound. According to investigators, a metal cap used to seal the opening on the top of the truck’s water tank detached and flew across several lanes of traffic, striking the elderly man in his neck. The cap was described as being about the size of a baseball and about two to three inches in width. The man crashed into the center median before his car came to a stop. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

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When a “Simple” Car Accident is Not So Simple

When one hears of an injury or death resulting from a car crash, one might naturally assume that the cause for the crash is simple and straightforward: One or both drivers drove their cars in a careless fashion and the crash ensued as a result. For investigators and others looking at this case, determining the precise cause of the crash is not so simple. While it can be said that the cause of the crash was the metal cap that became detached and hit the man in his neck, this does not necessarily explain who or what entity was actually at fault. There could be any number of culprits responsible in this crash:

  •      The truck driver, if he or she failed to ensure that the cap was properly secured before driving;
  •      The truck’s maintenance department, if the cap was damaged in some manner and a maintenance worker should have or could have discovered the damage through routine inspection;
  •      The agency or office responsible for maintaining the road, if a defect in the road (such as a large pothole) caused the cap to come loose;
  •      The manufacturer of the cap, if a design or manufacturing defect resulted in the cap not being safe for its intended use.

Answering the questions necessary to determine liability in a case such as this (unfortunately) takes time – the sort of time that surviving family members and/or injury victims do not generally have. The sooner such an investigation is completed and responsible parties identified, however, the sooner the victim(s) can obtain compensation and monetary damages for their losses.

The Case for an Attorney

This is why hiring an experienced car crash attorney is crucial: The attorney’s experience and resources can be used to complete the requisite investigation in a timely manner. Injury victims who attempt to “go it alone” (unfortunately) find out quickly that obtaining adequate compensation for their losses is no easy task.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident or collision, contact Case Barnett Law right away for assistance. Our years of experience helping numerous car accident clients means that you can trust our firm to identify and pursue compensation against those responsible for your injuries in a prompt manner. Call our firm at (949) 861-2990 to learn how we can help you or your loved one. You can also contact our firm online for assistance.

Missouri Finds CrossFit and Gym Liable for Exercise Injury

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A Missouri man has become the first individual to successfully sue CrossFit after an exercise at his local gym left him injured. The man was found 50 percent responsible for his injuries: CrossFit and a gym trainer involved in the accident were each found 25 percent responsible for the man’s injury accident. The man was attempting to perform a deadlift exercise, an exercise move in which the individual attempts to lift the maximum amount of weight he or she can. According to the lawsuit, the man attempted to lift the weight from the floor, felt a pain in his back, and then collapsed. As the gym trainer attempted to “roll out” the man’s back, the man complained that he could not feel his legs.

No Waiver Allows the Lawsuit to Proceed

Not all individuals in the same situation as this Missouri man are able to sue CrossFit and/or their local gym. CrossFit is a strenuous exercise program that if done incorrectly or by a person who is not in appropriate physical shape can cause serious injuries (like some other forms of exercise). Because of this, many gyms will have new members sign waivers of liability before allowing them to participate in the exercise program. These waivers are meant to shield the gym (and the parent company) from liability in the case the member gets injured.

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The Limits of Personal Injury Waivers

Even if the man in this story had signed a waiver before his injury, the wavier may not have been effective to prevent him from suing CrossFit and his gym. Waivers may be invalidated by the court where:

  •      The individual signing the waiver is not afforded an opportunity to learn of the risks he or she might face or the rights he or she is giving up, or he or she is not afforded an opportunity to consult with another before signing the waiver;
  •      The waiver is not clearly identified as a waiver of rights;
  •      The waiver requires the individual to give up all of his or her legal rights and affords the person no recourse in the event of any type of injury (for example, a waiver may not be effective in the case where someone intentionally causes injury to the signor); and/or
  •      The waiver is signed after an injury has occurred.

Tips for Individuals Looking to Join a Gym

Before starting a new exercise program or joining a gym, be sure to read any paperwork given to you carefully. If you are unsure as to the rights you are giving up, have a trusted friend or family member – or even an attorney – review the document with you. Signing these documents without reading them and considering the risks involved can leave you with a serious injury and no effective recourse for your losses and injury.

The southern California law firm of Case Barnett can assist you if you or your loved one have been injured in an accident at the gym or health club. Even if you believed you signed a waiver at the time you joined the gym, we may be able to successfully argue that the waiver is not effective, allowing your lawsuit to proceed. Contact Case Barnett Law at (949) 861-2990 or using the firm’s website to schedule your free case evaluation today.

When Do I Get My Personal Injury Compensation Award?

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Those injured in a serious personal injury accident – as well as the surviving family members of decedents killed in a fatal injury accident – usually have two overriding concerns on their minds when they visit with a personal injury law firm. First, these injury victims and family members want to know if they have a viable case. Answering this question requires our legal team to analyze the facts and circumstances of the person’s situation and utilize our knowledge of the law to render an informed opinion as to whether the person has a realistic opportunity to recover compensation for his or her injuries and losses.

The second most common question – and an equally compelling question, too – that injury victims want answered is this: “How long will it take to get my compensation award?” This is understandable considering that many injury victims are facing significant financial hardships due to medical bills and decreased wages. Unfortunately, it is not always as easy to determine when an injury victim will actually get the money in his or her hands.

If Your Case Settles Before Trial

If you and the at-fault party in your civil action decide to settle your case, then the settlement agreement will usually indicate when and how the defendant in your case is to pay you. This is typically true if you and the defendant settled the case yourselves or if a mediator assisted in brokering the agreement. Because a settlement agreement should be an enforceable contract, you should be entitled to additional damages and/or other legal relief if the defendant fails to pay within the time specified.

If You Win Your Case at Trial

If your case proceeds to trial and you prevail, the judge will enter an order fixing the amount of compensation the defendant must pay and the time within which he or she should pay. This timeframe can be paused if the defendant decides to appeal the trial’s result, legal issues that arose during the trial, and/or the amount of compensation ordered by the court. If the defendant does file an appeal, then the defendant is usually not required to pay until after the appeal has been resolved. Depending on the number of cases that must be decided before your own at the appellate level, this can take months or (in some cases) years.

If You Arbitrate Your Case

If you submit your case to an arbitrator, the arbitrator will fix the amount of time the defendant has to pay you. However, like a trial, the defendant may be permitted to appeal the arbitrator’s decisions to a court (and then appeal any adverse decisions the court makes to an appellate court). Again, it can take months – or even years – in order for the case to be finally resolved in your favor and the defendant to begin making payments.

Case Barnet Law Firm is a California personal injury firm committed to helping injury victims recover the compensation they need following a catastrophic personal injury accident. Contact the firm at (949) 861-2990 today for assistance, or complete our firm’s online contact form.

Is Your Child at Risk of a Daycare Injury Accident?

 

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For many California parents, daycare is not a luxury – it is a necessity. When a parent lives away from friends and family members who are able to stay with the child with the parent is at work, a daycare facility is usually the parent’s last resort – somewhere where the child can be safe and supervised while the parent is away at work. When using a daycare facility, the parent may be lulled into a false sense of security: The regulations and laws with which a daycare facility in California must comply in order to continue operations can make a parent feel confident that their child will return to them from the daycare facility uninjured and in good health. This is not always the case, however.

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Common Daycare Injuries to Children

As much as parents may not wish to dwell on the thought, a daycare can be a dangerous place for a young child. Some children have been injured through deliberate acts inflicted upon them by daycare staff, but a child can suffer serious – even fatal – injuries simply because a daycare worker acted carelessly or had a momentary lapse of judgment. Just a few of the injuries that can befall a young child while at daycare include:

  •      Falls down steps or falls from heights which can lead to traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or even death;
  •      Cuts and serious lacerations from sharp objects like scissors or knives that are left in areas accessible to children, or from sharp corners on tables and other furniture;
  •      Serious burns of various types. Chemical burns can result from being exposed to powerful cleaners and disinfectants (even the fumes can cause internal injuries). Electrical burns can come about if the child is permitted to play with an active electrical socket. Heat burns can occur when the child is permitted to touch a hot stove or radiator.
  •     Traumatic brain injuries, neck and back injuries, broken bones, and other injuries commonly associated with car accidents if the child is being transported in a daycare vehicle and the driver is involved in a crash.

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Parents of daycare-age children should carefully investigate a daycare facility before enrolling their children in the facility. Ensure that the facility is properly certified by the State of California. Tour the building and speak with the teachers, assistants, and staff. Does it appear that there are too many children and not enough adults? Are children supervised or do they appear to run wild? Are the facility, toys, and equipment in a good state of repair or are things falling apart? When it comes to your child’s safety, go with your gut – if you do not feel comfortable leaving your child at the facility for eight hours or more each day, it may be advisable to find another facility.

When to Call a Southern California Daycare Injury Attorney

If your child was injured while at a California daycare, you may be entitled to compensation for your expenses and losses. Contact Case Barnett Law Firm at (949) 861-2990 today, or contact us online to discuss your case.

Hollywood Screenwriter Settles Defective Medical Device Claim for $4.2 Million

Product liability claims for defective medical devices can arise under a number of different situations, but frequently come about when a medical device that was not properly tested injures a patient. This type of personal injury lawsuit is very common as the sale of medical devices is a massive industry that brings in approximately $85 billion-per-year, according to DrugWatch.com. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only lightly regulates medical devices, and once the FDA clears a particular medical device, physicians may use the the device however they deem fit.

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According to StatNews.com, a defective medical device lawsuit filed in Southern California was recently settled outside of court for $4.2 million. In this case, the plaintiff was experiencing numbness and pain in his hands and went in for surgery to relieve the discomfort. Although the surgery initially appeared to be a success, the man later experienced trouble speaking, his left eye drooped, and he developed terrible pain in various body parts including his neck, arms, and hands. Experts determined that these unintended side effects were caused by the implant that surgeons had fused into the man’s neck in order to relieve his original hand pain. StatNews.com reports that the implant had not been approved to replace a bone in the neck, which is how it had been used in this case. The man settled his case with the hospital for $4.2 million, and with the manufacturer of the medical device, Medtronic, for an undisclosed amount.

 

Medical Devices and Off-Label Medical Device Uses

 

Although Medtronic has already settled the defective medical device claim outlined above outside of court, the company is also facing a whistleblower lawsuit which claims that the it gained approval for the device from the FDA under false pretenses and that the device is being regularly used for unintended purposes, reports StatNews.com. Plaintiffs in the case claim that the medical device was specifically labeled as “not for cervical spine use”, and yet the company made it known that the device was in fact meant to be used in the cervical spine based on marketing emails and the small size of the device itself. In rebuttal, Medtronic maintains that its company policy is to only promote their products for FDA approved purposes.

 

Types of Defective Product Liability Claims

 

If you have been injured by a defective medical device it is important to note that product liability claims for defective medical devices come in three different forms. The three types of defective product liability claims in the United States are:

  1. Defectively manufactured medical devices,
  2. Medical devices with a defective design, and
  3. Defectively marketed medical devices.

 

Need Legal Advice?

 

If you have been injured by a defective medical device and would like to file a personal injury claim, contact the Case Barnett Law Firm today. Our experienced personal injury lawyers would be happy to discuss your legal options with you during a free consultation. Our office in Newport Beach can be reached by calling (949) 861-2990.

Personal Injury Claims Filed Across California Due to Malfunctioning E-Cigarettes

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 9.31.07 AMIn the last few years electronic cigarettes, or “e-cigarettes” as they are commonly called, have become increasingly popular across California. An e-cigarette is a cigarette-shaped device that vaporizes a nicotine based liquid that the user inhales in order to simulate the experience of smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette. While researchers are not sure of the long-term health ramifications associated with using e-cigarettes, many people are switching from traditional to electronic cigarettes because of perceived health benefits. However, e-cigarettes may pose an unexpected risk to your health. An article in the National Law Review reports that there are a rising number of e-cigarette malfunctions occurring in California. Malfunctions are occurring in a number of different ways, including exploding and catching fire, and are causing serious bodily injuries. As a result, product liability lawsuits for personal injury claims are being filed across California.

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Malfunctioning E-Cigarettes

 

The National Law Review reports that numerous e-cigarettes have exploded or caught fire due to a defective heating element. E-cigarettes work by heating a nicotine based liquid to its boiling point via a heating element that is often powered by a lithium ion battery. If the battery overheats it can combust or explode. A malfunctioning e-cigarette can be particularly dangerous due to the fact that users generally hold the device in their hand or between their lips while smoking.

 

California’s Product Liability Laws

 

In California, as in other states, we have product liability laws designed to protect consumers who are injured by a product that has a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or did not include sufficient warnings or instructions. These laws generally hold manufacturers, as well as sellers and retailers involved in the product’s chain of distribution, liable for compensating parties who are injured by their product. However, before an injured party can win their case, they must prove that their injury was caused by a defect in the product. Because California embraces a strict liability approach to product liability claims, the injured party does not need to show that the defendant was negligent in allowing the product to be unreasonably dangerous.

 

California’s Statute of Limitations

 

Most states have statutes of limitation that limit the timeframe in which an injured party can file a personal injury claim based on a defective product. In California, under California’s Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1, there is a statute of limitations that bars recovery for product liability claims that are filed more than two years after the injury was discovered. Therefore, if you have been injured by an e-cigarette in California do not wait too long before filing your lawsuit or else you may not be able to recover compensation for your injuries.

 

Need Legal Advice?

 

If you have been injured by a malfunctioning e-cigarette in California and would like to discuss your legal rights, contact the Case Barnett Law Firm today. Our experienced personal injury lawyers would be happy to meet with you during a free consultation. Our office in Newport Beach can be reached by calling (949) 861-2990.

Personal Injury Claims and Pokémon Go

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.03.14 PM.pngAs the Pokémon GO craze sweeps the nation, young and old alike are taking to the streets in mass in search of the elusive Pokémon. In case you haven’t heard, Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game produced by Nintendo that users play on their smartphones. The app encourages its users to go out into the real world in search of virtual Pokémon characters that can only be seen by looking through the camera on your phone. The game is wildly popular and, according to the Newport Beach Indy, boasts 30 millions downloads and $35 million in revenue in less than a month. The Newport Beach Indy also notes that there are several popular spots in Newport Beach where Pokémon can be found including Balboa Island, Dover Shores, Newport Beach Civic Center, and Crystal Cove State Park.

 

While Pokémon GO is undoubtedly fun, and can take credit for getting its users off the couch and out of the house, users are becoming so engrossed in the game that some people aren’t paying enough attention to their surroundings and are getting hurt. Dopplr.com reports that a rash of concerning personal injuries have been reported across the country including:

  • July 12: Teenage girl breaks her collarbone and foot in Pennsylvania after being hit by a car while playing Pokémon GO.
  • July 12: Teenager is bitten by snake while playing Pokémon GO in Texas.
  • July 12: A man in New York is injured after crashing his car into a tree while playing Pokémon GO.
  • July 13: Two distracted men survive a fall off of a cliff in southern California while playing Pokémon GO.
  • July 18: A distracted driver hits a police car while playing Pokémon GO in Baltimore.

 

Can Nintendo Be Held Liable For These Injuries?

 

While reports of Pokémon GO related injuries continue to surface, many people are wondering if Nintendo will soon be facing a rash of personal injury lawsuits? An interesting report from CNN claims that the liability issues surrounding augmented reality games, such as Pokémon GO, represent a new legal frontier. The report notes that the Pokémon GO app contains a comprehensive Terms of Service Agreement that users are required to agree to before they are allowed to play the game. Nintendo’s Terms of Service Agreement protects the company from being sued by its users for property damage, injuries, and even death. In other words, users agree to play Pokémon GO at their own risk. However, CNN points out that non-users do not sign the Terms of Service Agreement and are therefore are not precluded from suing if they are injured by Pokémon GO players. These non-users may potentially be able to sue the app or even be sued themselves. While Nintendo has tried its best to shield itself from liability, so many people are being injured while playing Pokémon GO that we will likely see at least a few related lawsuits surface in the near future. These lawsuits will help define how much liability videogame makers incur for augmented reality games.

 

Need Legal Advice?

 

If you are interested in pursuing a personal injury claim in southern California, contact the Case Barnett Law Firm today for a free consultation. Our personal injury lawyers are committed to obtaining justice for our clients and would be happy to discuss your legal options with you. Our office in Newport Beach can be reached at (949) 861-2990.

 

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Fourth Of July Aftermath: Personal Injury Claims For Firework Accidents

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While many of us associate the Fourth of July with fireworks and fun, the unfortunate reality is that thousands of people sustain firework-related injuries every year on Independence Day. Unfortunately, this year a nine-year-old girl in Southern California was seriously injured when fireworks exploded next to her at Burrell-MacDonald Park in Compton. According to the South Gate-Lynwood Patch, the little girl lost fingers on her right hand, suffered burns on her face, and injured her left hand so badly that it had to be amputated. While it is unclear at this time whether or not the little girl’s family will file a personal injury claim on her behalf, it is important for the public to know that victims who are injured in firework accidents may be able to recover damages for their injuries by filing a personal injury claim.

 

Personal Injury Claims To Recoup For Firework-Related Injuries

 

Determining whether some individual or company can legally be held liable for your firework-related injury can be complicated as there are a number of different legal theories that may apply. For example, one legal theory of liability that often applies in these types of personal injury cases is the legal concept of negligence. The theory of negligence can be a bit complicated but essentially holds a party liable for injuries sustained by the victim if that party failed to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would have been expected to exercise given the circumstances. Essentially, a person is often deemed to have acted negligently if they acted in a careless manner and as a result someone else was hurt. For example, if a teenager intentionally shoots a firework at his friend and that friend is injured when the firework explodes in his face, a court would likely find that the teenager acted negligently and is liable for his friend’s injuries. Determining liability can be tricky and therefore it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your claim.

 

Safety Tips

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According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2015 Annual Firework Report, an estimated 11,900 people went to the hospital due to firework-related injuries in 2015 and 11 people died. Given the prevalence of firework-related injuries across the United States, it is a good idea to review the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) list of safety tips before lighting those leftover Fourth of July fireworks that are sitting in your garage. A few of the APA’s key safety tips include:

  • Read all instructions carefully before lighting your fireworks,
  • Never let children light fireworks without supervision,
  • Only light one firework at a time,
  • Always have a water bucket and a connected water hose close by, and
  • Do not ever aim fireworks at people.

 

While safety should always be a top priority, also keep in mind that not all types of fireworks are legal, and that fireworks are not legal everywhere in California. You can check out a brief summary of California’s firework laws here.

 

How Can We Help?

 

If you have sustained a firework-related injury and are interested in pursuing a personal injury claim, contact the Case Barnett Law Firm today for a free consultation. Our Southern California personal injury lawyers are happy to help you and can be reached at (949) 861-2990.


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Alligator Attack At A Disney Resort May Result In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit

As residents of Southern California we are all well aware of how popular Disneyland is. It is a local landmark that attracts vacationing families from all over the world, and for many of us is a place that evokes fond childhood memories. However, tragedy recently struck at the ‘happiest place on earth’ when a two-year-old child was attacked and killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort in Orlando, Florida. Now, Disney is potentially facing a wrongful death lawsuit.

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What Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When someone dies due to another party’s negligence or neglect, the deceased’s relatives are generally permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. While wrongful death statutes vary slightly some state to state, most states (including California) have a law on the books that closely resembles Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. In Florida, the party that causes a victim’s death via a wrongful act, negligence, default, or a breach of contract shall be held liable for damages.

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Is Disney Liable?

According to the Huffington Post, Disney may potentially face a wrongful death lawsuit given that businesses are required to ensure that their premises are reasonably maintained. In this instance, the fatal alligator attack occurred around 9:00 p.m. at the edge of a lake located at the Disney World resort. The toddler was playing in approximately six inches of water when an alligator attacked and pulled him into the lake. The boy’s father jumped into the water in an effort to save his son but unfortunately was not able for force the alligator’s mouth open. The boy’s body was later found intact, and officials suspect that the cause of death was drowning.

While no amount of legal action or monetary compensation will bring the deceased toddler back, his family may be able to recover damages from Disney by filing a wrongful death claim. The family would need to show that Disney was aware of the alligators on its property and did not take appropriate steps to warn their guests of this known danger. According to an article published in People Magazine, the resort routinely removes alligators from its waterways. This seems to indicate that Disney was aware of their alligator problem before the attack occurred. The article also notes that the resort had a legal obligation to protect invitees from known dangers on the premises. If this case goes to court, the key question would likely be whether or not Disney adequately warned its guests about the danger posed by the alligators.

The Huffington Post notes that the resort did in fact have signage posted around the lake that stated “No Swimming Please”. However, this signage did not indicate that alligators may be present in the water. Disney did have at least one sign posted on the property that read “Please be aware of alligators in the lake”, but this sign was posted a few miles away from where the toddler was attacked. Although Disney is not required to keep their resort guests absolutely safe at all times, they do have a legal responsibility to warn of known dangers on the premises and the signs that were posted may not have been adequate to provide an appropriate warning.

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How Can We Help?

If you live in Southern California and are interested in filing a wrongful death lawsuit, or other personal injury claim, contact the Case Barnett Law Firm. Our personal injury lawyers are happy to discuss your legal options and can be reached at (949) 861-2990.

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