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Who Is Legally Responsible For Alligator Attacks In South Carolina?


Alligator attacks are rare in South Carolina, but it seems that, in the past few years, the gators have become more aggressive.  The American alligator is much less aggressive toward humans than some other large crocodilian species, such as the Nile crocodile or saltwater crocodile, and besides, Florida, not South Carolina, is the state with a reputation for having man-eating alligators lurking in every waterway.  In the early 1970s, the American alligator was on the endangered species list, and your chances were much greater of getting kicked by someone wearing alligator boots or (especially if you were Miss Lucy in a popular children’s song) getting whacked in the head by the alligator purse of a lady who was tired of you asking ignorant questions about your child’s health.  Since 1976, though, there have been 20 alligator attacks on humans in South Carolina, but until 2016, none of these attacks were fatal.  There have been enough alligator attacks to raise questions about who is legally responsible for preventing them.  If you have been injured in an attack by a wild animal, contact a South Carolina personal injury lawyer to discuss issues of liability.

Do Premises Liability Laws Apply to Alligators?

South Carolina’s premises liability laws enable you to sue a company for damages if you were injured due to unsafe conditions on its premises when you were a business invitee.  These laws could apply in some of the recent alligator attacks in South Carolina, as these attacks took place on private property controlled by businesses.  These are the details of South Carolina’s recent alligator attacks:

  • In 2016, a 90-year-old woman with dementia was killed by an alligator after she wandered away from the Charleston assisted living facility where she was a resident. The assisted living facility’s duty of care to the victim extends far beyond that covered by premises liability laws.  The facility certainly has a legal responsibility to protect vulnerable patients from wandering into harm’s way.
  • In 2018, Cassandra Cline, 45, was fatally attacked by an alligator while walking her dog at the Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head. A maintenance worker intervened and was able to save the dog but not Cline.  The resort may be legally responsible; its employees have quickly responded when nuisance alligators have entered swimming pools and other areas where they are dangerously close to humans and pets.
  • In August 2021, a woman on Hilton Head Island suffered leg injuries when an alligator bit her as she walked her dog near a lagoon; neighbors rescued her by hitting the alligator with a shovel until it released her. She is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Savannah.  The incident is still under investigation, and it is too soon to determine legal responsibility for it.

Reach Out to Our Office Today for Help

A Columbia premises liability lawyer can help you recover damages if you were injured in an accident at a place of business, even if that accident involved an animal attack.  Contact The Stanley Law Group for assistance with your case.


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