Alligators have been involved in some alarming incidents recently. Last month an alligator inside Walt Disney World pulled a 2-year-old into a lagoon and killed him. In another recent incident, an alligator was caught along FM 536 just outside of Floresville. Surprising morning commuters, the alligator was a staggering 12 feet long and weighed 400 pounds. Fortunately, this animal was detained before anyone was injured. The situation, however, could have unfolded quite differently and someone could have been killed by the wild animal.
Dangerous Animals on Texas Lands
Texans should be aware that alligators are just one type of dangerous animals that can be unexpectedly encountered in the state on an average day. Some of the other dangerous animals that can be encountered in Texas include:
- Cougars: Appearing most frequently in south Texas, these large cats are ferocious and menacing. Although they rarely attack humans, when they do, cougars can inflict substantial injuries and often death.
- Portuguese Man of War: These animals look a bit like jellyfish but have venomous tentacles that can cause severe pain and occasionally death. As a result, individuals should be extremely careful to avoid them while swimming.
- Wild Hogs: These feral animals tend to avoid humans but can react aggressively if approached. The piercing tusks of wild hogs can tear open one’s body with ease.
These are just a few of the wild animals that can pose a significant danger in Texas, especially to individuals who do not fully appreciate the danger or risk inherent in an animal encounter. All too often, property owners, businesses, and government entities fail to take sufficient steps towards warning and protecting others against the dangers presented by these animals.
Landowner Responsibility for Wild Animal Attacks
Generally, landowners are not responsible for attacks by wild animals on their property. However, Texas law holds that the owners or occupiers of land are liable for any injuries suffered by a person who was invited onto the land if that person’s injuries were caused by the landowner’s failure to exercise ordinary care to maintain the premises. If a guest is injured because a landowner failed to adequately maintain his property, then the owner may be liable for the guest’s injuries. When an alligator or other wild animal attack occurs on someone’s land, the outcome of the case will depend on whether the landowner knew about the presence of the animal and whether the landowner attempted to do anything to remove the danger and/or warn the guest.
When an individual is attacked by an alligator or other dangerous animal on the property of another and the landowner knew about the dangerous animal but the guest did not, the landowner is likely to be found responsible for the dangerous animal attack.