A preliminary investigation into the accident that claimed the life of a young boy reveals that the zoo met or exceeded all safety requirements for animals and visitors, proving that no exhibit is "fail-proof" as explained by the zoo's president. The horrific accident occurred after the boy fell into an African wild dog exhibit. Although nearby staff responded "within seconds," it was too late to save the boy.
The zoo has been open since 1898 and this was the first time there's been a "visitor incident of this magnitude." The incident occurred after the boy's mother put him on a wooden railing on the edge of a viewing deck. The boy fell and bounced of the netting intended to catch him. He then dropped into the enclosure holding the dogs.
Initial reports reveal no signs of negligence - the Pittsburgh Zoo had successfully completed its five-year review in September and the U.S. Department of Agriculture had inspected zoo recently and found it safe.
Fortunately, incidents like these are rare and show the need to follow strict safety precautions on both the part of the owner/operator of the zoo as well as the patrons. Many times attending an event - whether going to the zoo where there are dangerous animals, spending the day at an amusement park riding rollercoasters or attending a baseball game with the hopes of catching a foul ball - involves a certain amount of risk taking and danger.
Whether the amount of risk you are exposed to is "reasonable" is often a legal question. If you or a loved one has been hurt as a patron, it's important to consult with an experienced Sacramento personal injury attorney. Often, determining whether you may be entitled to compensation involves a complicated analysis of the risks involved, the warnings provided and other factors.
Where an unreasonably dangerous condition exists that an owner or operator knew of or should have known of but failed to either correct or provide sufficient warning, they may be held liable for damages in a "premises liability" lawsuit.
However, in many situations the "danger" is part of the fun - such as amusement park rides where you expect to be frightened and thrilled, just not hurt. California law continues to grapple with the scope of the "assumption of risk" defense - that is where a patron "assumes the risk" of injuries from the inherent risks of an activity.
Where an owner/operator takes steps to eliminate dangers and warn of potential risks, the injured party may face challenges recovering compensation for injuries resulting from a dangerous activity. Alternatively, where an owner/operator allows an unreasonably dangerous condition to exist, they may be held responsible for harm that occurs and required to pay damages.
In the zoo instance, initial reports suggest that this was simply a tragic accident. Other zoos and exhibits are sure to examine just what happened in an effort to prevent other such incidents from occurring again.
For more information about premises liability or dangerous conditions lawsuit, contact the top Sacramento negligence attorneys at the Law Office of Frederick J. Sette for an immediate consultation.