Can You Sue for a Snake Bite?
Legal Options for Snake Bite Victims
Southern California has seen its fair share of snakes. Summer is a prime time for these reptiles to come out from hiding and make their way to our homes and businesses so they can get food and shelter. Dark, damp, and cool areas tend to attract snakes, so it is not surprising that neighborhoods in and around Santa Clarita are prone to snakes. Common snakes found in Southern California include the Gophersnake, Coachwhip, Sharp-tailed snake, California Kingsnake, and the Western Rattlesnake.
That being said, California residents have a higher risk of getting bitten by a snake during this time of year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the US every year, and about 5 victims die. Worldwide, an estimated 5.4 million people are bitten annually, with up to 2.7 million envenomings.
With is in mind, victims may be entitled to compensation for their pain, suffering, medical bills, and more. However, snakebite victims may only sue under limited circumstances. We explain examples of situations in which a person could sue for a snake bite below.
What Happens if Someone Gets Bit by a Snake on Your Property?
In premises liability cases, property owners owe a duty of care to their visitors by removing hazards that cause or create a risk of injury or death. If they are aware of a hazard but fail to remove it, then property owners could be held liable for any resulting damages.
For example, if you visited your friend’s home and got bitten by a snake on their property, you may be able to sue. If a Zookeeper mishandled a snake and it bit a visitor, a lawsuit may arise. A business that has a pet snake but fails to secure its cage may get sued if the snake bites someone on the property. If a victim can prove negligence in these circumstances, they may recover substantial monetary compensation.
A rather shocking snake bite incident occurred at Walt Disney World in 2014, where a snake fell out of a tree and bit a young boy. His grandmother died of cardiac arrest after witnessing the incident. The family then sued for the boy’s injuries and the wrongful death of the grandmother, which brings us to our next point.
Wrongful Death Claims for Fatal Snake Bites
Although rare, snake bites can lead to wrongful death suits when circumstances call for them. In the example above, the family held Disney World responsible for the wrongful death of the grandmother because seeing the snake fall on her grandson was the proximate cause of her death, according to the family’s attorney.
Another example of a wrongful death claim arising out of a snake bite is a 2019 fatality that occurred in Georgia. 64-year-old Priscilla Meredith was bitten by a poisonous Canebrake rattlesnake when she was gardening at her home. As a result, she went to the ER for treatment.
However, the ER doctor did not give Meredith the antivenom she needed right away. The doctor instead called the Georgia poison control helpline for advice, who informed them that the doctor did not have to administer antivenom unless they saw swelling and bruising around the bite. Despite her obvious snake bite symptoms, such as heart problems and nausea, Meredith did not receive the necessary treatment and died two days later. As a result, her husband filed a wrongful death claim against the hospital and other responsible institutions.
These are some examples of how a snake bite can lead to wrongful death claims.
Symptoms of Venomous Snakebites
As you can see, snakebites can be extremely dangerous. Property owners, workers, and other parties are responsible for ensuring snakes are properly handled and not a threat to others. However, accidents happen. Although snake bite symptoms vary on the type of snake, common signs and symptoms of a snake bite include:
- Puncture marks at the wound
- Redness, swelling, bruising, bleeding, or blistering around the bite
- Severe pain and tenderness at the site of the bite
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Labored breathing (in extreme cases, breathing may stop altogether)
- Rapid heart rate, weak pulse, low blood pressure
- Disturbed vision
- Metallic, mint, or rubber taste in the mouth
- Increased salivation and sweating
- Numbness or tingling around face and/or limbs
- Muscle twitching
Treatment for Snakebites
Snakebite symptoms can be fatal if they’re not treated properly or in a timely manner. That’s why it’s crucial to know how to treat a snake bite should you ever end up in this unfortunate situation. Knowing how to respond to snake bites could save your life, so we encourage you to keep the following tips in mind:
- Call 9-1-1
- Wash the bite with soap and water
- Keep the bitten area still and lower than the heart
- Cover the area with a clean, cool compress or a moist dressing to ease swelling and discomfort
- Monitor breathing and heart rate
- Remove all rings, watches, and constrictive clothing, in case of swelling
- Note the time of the bite so that it can be reported to an ER healthcare provider if needed
- Try to remember to draw a circle around the affected area and mark the time of the bite and the initial reaction, as well as redraw the circle around the site of injury marking the progression of time
- Try to remember what the snake looks like, its size, and the type of snake if you know it, in order to tell the emergency room staff
- Don't apply a tourniquet
- Don't try to suck the venom out
Once you arrive at the ER, you may be treated as such:
- A doctor may give you antibiotics to prevent or treat developing infections
- You may get medicine to treat your pain
- You may receive a special type of antivenin depending on the type of snake that bit you and the severity of your symptoms
Consult with Our Lawyer About Filing a Claim
Snake bites are a serious threat to your health, so when a person’s negligence results in your injuries, you should take legal action to hold them accountable for their wrongdoings. If successful in your claim, you may receive substantial monetary compensation to cover your losses, such as pain and suffering, medical bills, lost earning capacity, and more. To discuss your situation and learn if you have a claim, contact the Law Office of Robert J. Kaiser online or at (661) 441-3446!