Wal-Mart attracts its share of the strange and scary, but this one takes the cake. The Wal-Mart store in Apopka, Florida had a surprise visitor when shoppers saw a 6-foot-long alligator waiting to enter the discount chain. The incident occurred on October 20, 2013 at the store located near Orlando. The alligator wandered from a nearby pond and stopped by the automatic doors causing them to continuously open and close. Alligators usually are afraid of people but maybe this gator could not resist a good sale. The store locked its doors and police arrived but the Alligator returned to the pond before trappers could catch him. Later, officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the alligator had been caught.
A store owner’s liability for dangerous conditions
A store or business has a duty to protect its customers from dangerous situations at its establishment. This can include dangerous conditions such as a wet floor, falling merchandise or broken stair that the owner or their employees were aware existed but failed to repair. The presence of a wild animal such as an alligator would certainly qualify as a dangerous condition. However, finding the business liable also requires that the accident was foreseeable. The owner would not be responsible if a customer is hurt because of a dangerous situation that appeared suddenly and unexpectedly. However, for example if the Wal-Mart is located near a pond that was known to contain alligators and the store failed to put up a fence or other protection, it may be liable. Other situations where the store owner may also be held responsible for a dangerous condition not of their making include:
- Failing to put out mats by the entrance during a rainstorm
- Neglecting a leak from the freezer
- Not putting up barricades when there is construction work in the vicinity
- Failing to cover potholes in the parking lot
Many accidents occur in large stores and other business establishments as a result of unusual and strange circumstances. If you are injured as a result of such an accident, a Florida personal injury attorney may be able to help you recover money as compensation for your losses.