When Alligator Attacks Become A Premise Liability Issue

In Florida, alligators are a common sight. Go to your local park, lake, or golf course, and there’s a definite possibility that you’ll see an alligator swimming in the water or lounging in the sun. Despite their ubiquity, alligators don’t usually pose a serious threat — unless they are approached, harassed, or fed by humans.

Alligator Attack in San Carlos Park Exemplifies Dangers

Most Floridians know to avoid alligators. But when even one person breaks the rules, it can have consequences for an entire community. An alligator attack in July in San Carlos Park, which is in the Cape Coral-Fort Meyers area, exemplifies this. The victim was gardening in her yard when a 10-foot alligator approached her, biting her leg. As she stabbed the alligator with her gardening scissors and screamed for help, her neighbors were able to come to her aid. The woman survived this aggressive attack. But new reports show that some of her neighbors might actually be responsible for the alligator’s behavior.

According to an investigation, people in the community have fed the local alligators in the past. This behavior might seem harmless, but it can cause the alligators to become acclimated to human interaction. This can lead them to approach humans. This is why it is illegal to feed alligators in Florida.

After this attack, trappers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission reported that the alligator-in-question swam right up to them. This furthers their belief that it had been fed and acclimated. A manager for the community, however, says that they sent out emails to remind residents to avoid feeding the alligators. They also say they asked residents to exercise caution around ponds and lakes in the community.

Addressing the Issue

Still, the liability for such an attack is interesting or complex. Was an alligator attack a foreseeable issue, and something the community management should have address more thoroughly? If a specific person was feeding the alligator, are they liable for the victim’s injuries?

Regardless, this alligator attack is a reminder of two things for all Floridians:

  1. Never feed alligators!
  2. If there is ever a problem in your community, be it an aggressive alligator or a slippery sidewalk, alert someone right away.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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