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Can you sue a Shark?

October 25, 2021
Personal Injury

Shark bites are incredibly rare occurrences.  Going to the beach in Florida has its own inherent risks, and a shark attack is one of them. Shark bites can inflict serious injury.  Victims can be scarred and permanently disfigured, physically and mentally with PTSD.

Shark ecotourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Florida tourism industry.  Shark diving in Florida has local economic benefits and encourages conservation of sharks by raising public awareness.

Shark ecotourism is popular and controversial.  There are risks to human safety and to sharks by altering their natural behavior.

Some Important Shark Bite Facts and Statistics from 2020:

  • There were 57 confirmed cases of unprovoked shark bites in 2020 globally. Unprovoked attacks are incidents in which an attack on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the sharks.
  • The United States experienced 33 confirmed cases of unprovoked shark bites in 2020.
  • Florida reported 16 instances of unprovoked cases of shark bites in 2020. The 16 Florida cases represented 48% of the US total and a staggering 28% of unprovoked shark bites worldwide.
  • The most recent five-year annual average of unprovoked shark bites in Florida is 30.
  • 61% of the victims of unprovoked shark bites globally were those participating in board sports, like surfing.
  • Florida has had the dubious distinction of being called the “Shark Bite Capital of the World.”

What should you do if you or your loved one has been bitten by a shark?

  • Timely treatment

Shark bites pose a serious risk for infections.  If the bite is serious, call an ambulance or go to an emergency room to get treatment for the injuries.  Medical evaluation ensures that injuries you have suffered are diagnosed and treated immediately.  It also helps you to document your injuries through medical records.

  • Report the attack

Report the attack to the police and to any potentially liable party.  These may include the city, town, or municipality that operates the beach.  Private beach owners and shark tour companies can also be liable parties.

You should ask the concerned party and witnesses to make a written report containing details of the incident, your statement, their statements, and their contact information.  Request a copy of their report for your records.

  • Capture photographs and document the scene of the attack

If possible, take photographs of all visible injuries, including wounds and lacerations.  Write a description of what occurred while details of the attack are still fresh in your mind.  Take photographs of the location, since beach owners or their employees might try to put warning signs or remove the dangerous and hazardous conditions after you have reported the attack.

  • Communicate with care with representatives of the liable parties

Insurers or representatives of potentially liable parties may try to lure you into making a quick settlement.  You have the right to decline speaking with them.  You can choose to communicate through an attorney instead.

Insurance companies are interested in protecting themselves from claims.   Avoid giving statements or signing any documents before consulting your Miami shark bite attorney.  Do not accept blame and avoid blaming anyone.

  • Contact a shark bite lawyer

Handling a shark bite case can be a complex process and it is essential to seek representation from a skilled and experienced shark bite lawyer without delay.  Time is of the essence in shark bite cases.

Initial consultations with our attorneys are free.  The experienced attorneys at Mase Mebane Seitz possess decades of experience and extensive resources in personal injury and maritime laws to take on property owners and their insurers, who will try to pay you as little as possible or nothing.

Who can you sue if you are bitten by a shark?

Shark bite claims are based on negligence.  Just like in premises liability cases, if the city, town, municipality, or a private beach owner failed to warn beachgoers and revellers of reported shark sightings or the presence of sharks in the water, they may be liable for the shark bite and resulting injuries.

Such negligence could be the outcome of the liable party’s failure to clear sewage, which attracts bait fish and, in turn, sharks, or not warning people of hazards using appropriate signs.

Similarly, private beach owners and tour companies that act and behave negligently can liable for shark attacks on boats, tours, and private beaches.

If you are underwater and your safety equipment malfunctions, and a shark is able to attack and bite you because of that malfunction, you may be able to file a claim for damages against the manufacturer, distributor, or supplier of such defective safety equipment.

Tour companies have standards and procedures in place to prevent divers and passengers on their trips from getting injured on their watch.  Companies or entities operating such tours and dives can be liable for failure to provide legally agreed upon services.

Dive boats are required to carry a crew and a dive master, who supervises dives and administers medical care if required, approved by the United States Coast Guard.

If a victim of a shark bite is unable to get urgent medical attention and treatment after an attack, boat owners and yacht operators can be responsible.  For your claim to succeed, you will need to prove the following elements:

  • The party owed you a duty of care.
  • They breached the duty of care.
  • The breach caused (in whole or in part) a shark to bite you.
  • You suffered damages resulting from the shark bite.

In a shark bite claim, one of the following parties may be held liable:

  • The city, county, town, municipality, hotel, resort, or any other person entity that owns or operates a beach.
  • Private beach owners and their managers/supervisors/ employees.
  • Tour companies.
  • Boat owners.
  • Boat operators.
  • Manufacturers, distributors, or sellers who did not act reasonably in the design, distribution, testing, labelling, assembly, or manufacturing of cages, boats or other safety equipment used for keeping sharks at bay, and this failure was the cause of the victim’s injuries.
  • A negligent, careless or reckless diver, passenger, or beachgoer.

The above list is non-exhaustive.  Speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer at Mase Mebane Seitz to determine if parties may be liable for your shark bite injuries.

Types of injuries sustained by victims of shark bites:

Most victims of shark bites sustain the following injuries, which can lead to numerous doctor visits and a multitude of medical bills:

  • Broken bones and Fractures.
  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Puncture wounds.
  • Soft tissue injuries.
  • Psychological trauma (PTSD).
  • Wrongful death.

Shark Bite Prevention Tips

Some tips to lower your risk of being bitten by a shark are:

  • Avoid swimming in waters where people are actively fishing.
  • Never venture into the ocean if you are bleeding.
  • Swim close to the shore where you are able to see the bottom of the ocean.
  • Avoid water at night, dusk, or dawn as sharks are most active at these times.
  • Never wear shiny jewellery or a shining reflective bathing suit.
  • Swim in a group. Solo swimmers are most likely to be attacked by a shark.

What are some common mistakes that can compromise your shark bite injury claim?

If you have been a victim of a shark bite in Florida, common mistakes that you should avoid include:

  • Signing an agreement that curtails or limits your right to sue or absolves the wrongdoer of blame.
  • Failure to collect or preserve evidence.
  • Defendant’s admission of guilt not recorded or documented.
  • Not suing the right parties to the claim.
  • Taking too long to file a claim. The Florida Statute of Limitations for a shark bite negligence claim is four years from the date of the shark bite.

What compensation can a victim of a shark bite claim?

An experienced Miami shark bite lawyer knows that any damages must include the cost of long-term therapy, including psychological counselling, and compensation for physical injuries.  In general, a victim will be entitled to recover compensation for:

  • Medical Bills.
  • Lost Wages.
  • Loss of earning capacity.
  • Damages suffered due to pain and suffering.
  • Damages suffered due to anguish and emotional distress.
  • Costs of future corrective surgeries.
  • Damages suffered due to loss of enjoyment of life.

Mase Mebane Seitz provides compassionate legal representation to victims of shark bites

We provide compassionate legal counsel for victims of shark bites and attacks.  Our qualified and experienced attorneys possess in-depth knowledge and experience to assist you and your family to navigate through complex maritime laws.  We make the process easy to get the results you deserve.

Our team of personal injury and maritime attorneys relentlessly fight to secure maximum compensation through verdicts and settlements for victims of shark bites in Miami or anywhere in Florida.

We spend time with victims and their families to gain their confidence and trust.  Our team of compassionate shark bite attorneys does the following for our clients:

  • Secure evidence.
  • Track down witnesses.
  • Determine liable parties.
  • Determine value of their claim.
  • Seek opinion of marine experts and shark biologists.
  • Contact insurance companies and establish a claim.
  • Take the case to trial if the need arises.

We don’t just strive to get you compensation; we help you to attain happiness and restore normalcy in your life too.

Contact a Miami Shark Bite Lawyer

If you or your loved one has been bitten by a shark in Miami or anywhere in Florida, you deserve to be duly compensated for the injuries suffered and other damages.  Call an experienced Miami shark bite lawyer at our firm for a free case evaluation right away.

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Mase Seitz Briggs
2601 South Bayshore Drive
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Phone: 305-487-8863
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