Three days after an alligator dragged Lane Graves to his death on a Disney property, signs were installed warning guests about alligators. Additionally, barriers are being installed.
So, since Disney has started posting these signs, this is essentially tantamount to an admission that the warnings should have been in place earlier, right? The law says, no, it is NOT an admission of liability.
The signs Disney has posted are what the law refers to as “subsequent remedial measures.” This means essentially repairing/remediating something AFTER someone gets hurt. This is not admissible in Florida (and pretty much every other jurisdiction) to prove that someone is civilly liable. Florida’s law states “Evidence of measures taken after an injury or harm caused by an event, which measures if taken before the event would have made injury or harm less likely to occur, is not admissible to prove negligence.”
The primary reason behind this law is the practical rule that society wants to encourage individuals, companies, and other entities to take steps to prevent further injuries. Allowing such evidence to be admitted in court will likely serve as a deterrent to parties from making the improvements in the first place if those changes will later be used against them in court. There are additional legal theories that tie into the rules of evidence, but the public policy argument is the most crucial one.
So the question of whether or not Disney should have had these types of signs up BEFORE a 2-year-old was killed on its property is one that a judge or jury may end up deciding, although as our last blog post indicated, a huge settlement is the likeliest resolution.