Can I Sue the San Diego Zoo If I’m Injured at the Zoo

When you visit the San Diego Zoo, you assume that zoo officials take certain precautions to protect you from injuries. 

However, incidents and accidents might occur because of:

  • Animal attacks and bites
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Food poisoning
  • Injury on playground equipment
  • Assaults because of negligent security or inadequate lighting
  • Damaged equipment, seating, stairs, and flooring
  • Large holes or cracks in pavement or ground
  • Broken, inadequate, or missing railings

The zoo has a legal duty to take steps to protect guests and visitors. When the zoo is negligent and breaches the duty of care, it can be held liable for any damages caused by the failure to provide reasonably safe premises.

Millions of people visit the San Diego Zoo each year. Most visitors have a fun experience and leave without any harm or injury. 

Unfortunately, bad things can happen when we get too close to wild animals. The zoo takes steps to keep visitors and animals separated. However, there are incidents in which a person might fall over a railing and into an animal enclosure. 

When a visitor is injured in an animal attack, a careful analysis of the safety measures is required to determine if the zoo did everything it could to protect guests. If the zoo failed to take adequate safety features, it could be sued for damages.

Likewise, if a guest is injured in an animal encounter, the zoo could be liable. The zoo may require the person to sign a waiver before the animal encounter. However, if the zoo is negligent or committed intentional wrongdoing, the waiver may be void.

Other Injuries at the San Diego Zoo

Most injuries at the zoo do not involve animals. Instead, the injuries are caused by unsafe premises. For instance, a person falls because of uneven surfaces or a broken step.

A guest may contract food poisoning from eating food that was improperly prepared or contaminated food. In addition, a child could be injured because playground equipment was not properly maintained.

Premises Liability Claims for Zoo Accidents and Injuries

Most injuries sustained on zoo property fall under premises liability laws. Therefore, before you can recover compensation for your damages, you must prove the legal elements of negligence

The legal elements of negligence are:

  • Duty of Care – The zoo owes guests a duty of care to maintain safe premises
  • Breach of Duty of Care – The zoo breached the duty of care by allowing unsafe or hazardous conditions or situations
  • Causation – The breach was a direct and proximate cause of the guest’s injury
  • Damages – The guest sustained damages because of the injury

Not all injuries or accidents result in a financial award. For example, if the zoo officials acted with reasonable care, the zoo might not be responsible for the person’s injuries and damages. A jury would apply the reasonable person standard to determine negligence in the premises liability claim.

The zoo might not be liable or may only be partially liable for cases involving contributory fault. If the person is partially at fault for the cause of their injury, the zoo may not be fully liable for damages.

The zoo may not be liable for unforeseeable events. Sometimes accidents happen that no one could have prepared for or anticipated. 

Damages for a Premises Liability Claim Against the San Diego Zoo

If the zoo is responsible for the cause of your injury, you could be entitled to compensation for your damages. First, you must prove all the elements of a premises liability claim and file your claim before the deadline set by the California statute of limitations.

Examples of the types of damages included in a premises liability claim are:

  • The cost of past and future medical treatment and care
  • Pain and suffering damages, including physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional distress
  • Past and future loss of income, including decreases in future earning potential
  • Decrease in your quality of life
  • Permanent disabilities and impairments
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • The cost of personal care and long-term nursing care

The value of the economic and non-economic damages depends on the circumstances of the case. Generally, permanent disabilities and catastrophic injuries increase the value of premises liability claims. Allegations of contributory fault decrease the value of your claim.

Be sure to act quickly if you are injured at the San Diego Zoo. You may need to file a notice of claim quickly with the zoo to preserve some of your legal rights. Notify the zoo immediately if you are injured and seek prompt medical treatment for your injuries.