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Zoo may face premises liability claim after jaguar bites child

It is not uncommon to see reports about people who suffered severe personal injury or worse after being attacked by animals. Most of the subsequent personal injury or premises liability lawsuits involve people who were bitten by dogs; however, a recent incident in another state involved jaguars. Tennessee residents may be interested to learn about a family's nightmare visit to the zoo.

It was reported that a 3-year-old boy fell through the barrier rails at the big-cat exhibit on a recent Friday morning. Nobody seemed to have witnessed what led to him falling, as the first alarm was made once the boy landed among the jaguars in the pen. The child's father apparently tried to distract the jaguars by slinging objects toward them. He says he managed to distract one cat, but a second jaguar had its mouth over the child's neck.

Zoo workers responded rapidly and managed to drive the jaguars away from the child by using fire extinguishers. Emergency workers rushed the child to a nearby hospital within minutes. The child's severe injuries included a fractured skull, lacerations to his scalp and several puncture wounds. Doctors were unclear about which wounds resulted from the 15-foot fall, and which were caused by the jaguar's attack.

Owners of entertainment establishments where visitors move about have the duty to provide safe surroundings that do not pose personal injury hazards. Tennessee parents of children who have suffered personal injury on premises that they believe to have been dangerous may choose to pursue recovery of medical costs and other damages. They are entitled to file a premises liability claim against the property owner and other responsible parties in a civil court. In addition to medical expenses resulting from the personal injury, a successful presentation may also lead to additional compensation as allowed by state laws.

Source: 11alive.com, "Jaguar bites toddler's neck after fall, witnesses say", Alyssa Raymond, Oct 10, 2014

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