By Jo Jeffries. Last updated 20th July 2022. Visiting the zoo could be considered a fun activity, whether you are taking children to see the animals or visiting for your own pleasure. However, if you or any member of your party are injured in a zoo accident, then you may not have had such a good time there. Likewise, if you suffer an accident while you are working at the zoo, it would not be a pleasant experience. If the zoo accident you were in led to injuries, and the zoo could be seen as being at fault, then you may be able to claim some compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered.
Claiming for Zoo Accidents – Who could be eligible?
Whether you were injured in a slip, trip or fall because the pathways were not made safe, or you were injured at the zoo because you were working there and your employer did not take steps to make your workplace as safe as could be considered reasonable, you may be able to claim not just for your zoo injury, but also for any financial losses or costs you’ve had to suffer as a direct result of your accident. Within the guide below, we will cover some of the common questions about the safety of zoos, as well as giving some information about zoo attacks that have happened leading to people being injured at the zoo.
We’ll also go through the process of making a claim for zoo accidents, explaining what could be claimed for, how long you could have to claim and more. If you require further information on anything contained within this guide, then you could call us at any time on 0800 073 8801. But before you do, why not take a look below to see whether your question has already been answered.
Select A Section
- A Guide To Claims For An Accident At A Zoo
- What Is An Injury Or Accident At A Zoo?
- Health And Safety For Zoos And Safari Parks
- Common Accidents And Injuries Which Could Happen In A Zoo
- Petting Zoo Injury And Illness Claims
- Child Injured At A Zoo Claims
- Zookeeper And Employee Injury Claims
- Claims For Deaths And Fatal Zoo Accidents
- Personal Injury Claims Calculator For An Accident At A Zoo – Updated August 2021
- Special Damages You Could Be Eligible To Claim
- No Win No Fee Claims For An Accident At A Zoo
- Steps To Take If Attacked By A Zoo Animal
- How To Our Team Could Help You To Make A Zoo Accident Claim
- Start Your Zoo Accident Claim
- Essential Resources
If you are considering going ahead with a personal injury claim for an accident at the zoo that has led you or someone you are responsible for to suffer injuries, then this guide could offer some useful assistance. You may assume a zoo accident would involve someone being mauled by an animal, but in truth, there are many other ways in which you could suffer injuries in a zoo accident, and a lot of them could have nothing to do with the animals at all.
Whether you are a zoo employee injured in the course of their working day because your employer hasn’t taken the required steps to protect you from foreseeable risks, or you’re looking into making a claim for a child injured at the zoo because they fell from a viewing platform that wasn’t properly secured, for example, the guidance below may answer some of the common questions about making personal injury claims against zoos. We will give you information about who could be liable for your injury claim, safety concerns over zoos, and details of what you could claim for, as well as giving you information on our services and how we could provide you with a personal injury lawyer to help you make a claim.
In terms of a personal injury claim, any accident at a zoo that could have been prevented if the zoo had acted responsibly for staff or visitor health and safety could be considered a zoo accident. Whether you are injured in a zoo attack by an animal, or you are injured at the zoo because the pathways between animal enclosures were not made safe, if the zoo could be held liable, then you could be eligible to make a claim for your injuries.
Why Are Zoos Safe?
While you might assume that the risk of an accident concerning an animal at the zoo could be quite high, as a visitor, the risk could be considered very low, simply because there is not a lot of contact between visitors and the animals within the enclosures. While the risk could be considered a little higher if you are working at the zoo and have regular contact with the animals, most employers within the zoo industry take their health and safety responsibilities very seriously, and work to keep risks as low as possible.
There are a large number of ways in which zoo owners are required to keep the public and their employees safe while they are at the zoo. They should work to protect visitors or staff from animal attacks, diseases and infections and general accidents that could occur on site.
The 1971 Animals Act requires owners and handlers of animals to ensure that those animals do not cause injury to another person. If an animal does cause injury to another person, then the handler or the owner of the animal could be held liable for the injuries that the animal causes. There are penalties that could be charged to those owners or handlers of animals that cause injury.
Health And Safety For The Public
There is a requirement for a zoo to risk assess the site regularly and reduce risks accordingly. Some of the actions that a zoo could take to avoid injury to members of the public could include:
- Checking enclosures for potential escape routes for animals and maintain and repair enclosures where necessary.
- Checking for slip, trip or fall hazards around the zoo site, and removing hazards where appropriate.
- Signposting for known hazards/risks that cannot be removed.
- Ensuring that where it is possible for animals to be handled, handwash or antibacterial gel is available and that there is adequate supervision by trained staff while animals are being handled.
- And more…
If you’ve been injured at the zoo, why not call our team to see if you could be eligible to claim compensation?
Health And Safety For Workers
As an employer, the zoo has a responsibility to their staff to keep them as safe as possible while at work. They could do this by:
- Providing training specific to the job roles as well as general health and safety training
- Ensuring PPE is provided where required (for example, safety gloves)
- Ensuring the proper level of supervision is in place for more hazardous jobs concerning dangerous animals
- Ensuring that workplace hazards are regularly assessed, and that action is taken to lower workplace risks as much as could be considered reasonable.
- And more…
If the zoo does not act responsibly towards the public or zoo employees and they are injured at the zoo, then they could be liable for injuries sustained in an accident at work.
There could be a wide range of injuries and accidents that could happen within a zoo. We will go into some of these in more detail below but in general, accidents that could happen in zoos could include:
- Animal bites to the public
- Animal scratches to the public
- Slips, trips and falls by the public
- Zoo keeper death
- Zoo keeper injury via bites or scratches
- Disease or infection caused by animal contact
- And more…
How Should You Behave In A Zoo?
There are certain ways in which you are required to be responsible for your own safety while in the zoo. These include following instructions given to you by zookeepers, as well as following signage and warning signs around enclosures and washing your hands after touching animals. In terms of what we should not do in the zoo, the instructions could vary between zoos, but may include not banging on enclosures, not stepping past safety barriers and more. If you are deemed to be partially at fault when you are injured in the zoo, but the zoo could also be held liable, then you may still be able to make a claim for compensation but it is likely that your compensation payout would be lower to reflect your involvement.
A petting zoo injury could happen in many ways. You might be injured while handling or petting an animal. If an animal feels distressed, they may bite, scratch or maul someone. You could also be injured while walking around the petting zoo if the walkways are not kept free of trip hazards. There could also be a possibility of contracting an illness or infection from an animal if precautions were not taken to avoid the spread of disease or infection. One of the more common infections that could be contracted from animal contact is E. coli.
Symptoms could include cramping in the stomach, vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea. Usually, handwash or antibacterial spray should be provided to those handling animals. If this is not provided by the zoo, or they have allowed infected animals to be petted by the public, then they could be held liable for illnesses and infections contracted because of their negligence.
Zoos could be considered exciting and educational activities for children, but if your child is injured at the zoo then they may not enjoy the experience at all. If your child or toddler was injured at the zoo, it may be possible for you to make a claim for their injuries with the assistance of a personal injury solicitor. Obviously you would be required to properly supervise your child while they were at the zoo, but if you did supervise them and they were injured due to the zoo not acting responsibly towards the health and safety of their visitors, you could make a zoo accident claim for your child.
The personal injury claims time limit is usually three years from a zoo accident date, but if you don’t claim on behalf of your child, then they may make a claim for themselves once they turn 18. They would have three years in which to do so, beginning from their 18th birthday. It may be harder to gather and provide the evidence needed to prove such claims as time goes on, so you may wish to make a claim sooner rather than later when it comes to your child’s case.
If you’d like to talk this over with an advisor, simply call us – we’ll be happy to provide any information you may need to make a decision on whether to claim or whether to wait. There are some exceptions to the time limit in some cases, so it might be best to check with us what the relevant time limit is for your case.
What are the dangers of being a zookeeper? There could be more than you would assume, from slips, trips and falls, to injuries from falling signage or broken enclosures. Obviously if someone is handling or looking after dangerous animals, there could be risks of harm, but it is up to your employer to keep you as safe as could be considered reasonable while at work, and this responsibility extends to zookeepers too. Some of the actions that your employer could take to ensure you are working as safely as possible are:
- Providing health and safety training initially, and updating this training where necessary
- Providing training for specific situations that are considered dangerous
- Providing safety wear and PPE
- Regularly risk assessing for dangerous work
- Ensuring that appropriately experienced staff work on certain tasks
- Ensuring enclosures are safe and secure
- Ensuring there is appropriate signage
- And more…
If your employer does not take care of your health and safety while you are at work and you are injured, then they could be held liable for a zoo accident that causes you to suffer injury.
Sadly, some zoo accidents could result in fatal injuries. For example, in 2017, a zoo keeper suffered an accidental death when she obtained traumatic injuries from direct contact with a tiger. The zookeeper, who was 33 at the time of the accident, was killed in what was described as a ‘freak accident’. A health and safety inquest was ordered into the incident.
If you have lost a loved one in a fatal zoo accident, you may be able to claim on their behalf if they were killed in a zoo accident that was not their fault. The compensation you could receive would obviously not bring back your loved one but could go some way towards helping you move forward after an accident. Compensation could cover the funeral costs for your loved one and may even include a financial award for the loss of income they bring to the household, particularly if you were financially dependent on them.
If you are in this situation, then please call us for guidance on whether you could make a claim for compensation. Our specially trained advisors will handle your call with the utmost sensitivity.
Because there are so many different types of injury that could be sustained in a zoo accident, we have offered some insight into the approximate payout brackets for some of the injuries that could be considered common to zoo accidents. This is slightly different from a personal injury claims calculator, as it gives you an immediate idea of the guideline payouts for specific injuries, without you having to fill in any personal details.
|Type of injury||Approximate Settlement||Notes|
|Quadriplegia||£324,600 to £403,990||AKA Tetraplegia. An injured party receiving a payout within the middle of this bracket would not be in pain but would be fully aware of their condition. Life expectancy would be 25 years + and they would be able to speak, hear and see, but require assistance with bodily functions|
|Moderate neck injuries||£7,890 to £13,740 ||If a pre-existing condition has been exacerbated, or if new soft tissue injuries have been sustained and there is a vulnerability to future trauma to the area.|
|Moderate hand injuries||£5,720 to £13,280||Lacerations and penetrating wounds. Award would depend on whether any disability remained.|
|Index finger loss||£12,170 to £18,740||Partial or total loss. A total loss would likely attract the higher end of this bracket. Grip and dexterity would be impaired.|
|Middle or ring finger injuries – Serious||£10,320 to £16,340||Severe impairment or loss of dexterity or grip would attract payouts in this bracket.|
|Severe Toxicosis||38,430 to £52,500||Hospital admission would be required, for days or even weeks. IBS, haemorrhoids, incontinence could continue, which could have an impact on victim’s enjoyment of life and ability to work.|
|Diarrhoea/Vomiting||£9,540 to £19,200||Serious short-lived symptoms which disturb bowel function, enjoyment of food etc for a few years.|
|Mental trauma||£4,670||Fearing a potential loss of life|
|PTSD||£3,950 to £8,180||Less severe|
If your injury doesn’t appear above, then you might prefer to call us, and we could offer some insight into how much compensation might be appropriate for your injury, according to the Judicial College Guidelines.
Along with the above damages that could be made for your injuries, you could also claim for monetary costs and losses you’ve suffered as a result of your zoo accident. If an accident at a zoo has caused you to lose out on wages, for example, then you could include these as special damages. Other costs that could be claimed for might include medical costs, travel costs and care costs, if these arose as a direct result of your claim.
It is not just immediate costs that could be claimed for, however. You might also wish to claim for future losses of earnings and care if you are injured to the extent that you require care in the future, or cannot return to work because of your injuries, for example.
Making a claim for compensation does not necessarily mean you would have to pay out to retain the services of a lawyer before your claim begins. Making claims under a no win no fee agreement means you could only have to pay your lawyer a percentage of your settlement amount after it has been paid out. The Conditional Fee Agreement you would sign to this effect would detail the percentage of your total settlement that would be required by your lawyer as a success fee at the end of your case.
This percentage can’t be more than 25%. If your solicitor is unable to secure you a compensation payout despite your claim being valid, then you wouldn’t have to pay them this fee.
If you have been attacked by a zoo animal, the first thing we would advise you to do is seek medical attention for your injuries. If appropriate, however, there are other steps you might wish to take whether you are considering making a claim for compensation or not. These could include:
- Notifying the zookeeper of what has happened
- Notifying the zoo owner of your injury
- Collecting evidence – photographic or otherwise. You might also wish to take the details of any witnesses to your zoo accident as they may be asked to give evidence
- Getting legal advice – Even if you are not considering making a claim, it could be wise to at least find out where you stand from a legal standpoint. We could help you with this. We offer free no-obligation advice whether you’re looking to make a claim or not.
Our team are ready to hear from you if you have suffered an injury in a zoo, or if someone you are responsible for has been injured in the zoo. We could help by taking some details of what’s happened and offering specific advice that is tailored to your situation. We would also assess whether it could be appropriate to offer you the services of a solicitor. If it is appropriate, then we could connect you with a solicitor to help you begin a claim for your accident in a zoo. If we do not think you would be able to secure compensation, we will let you know, and we will explain why this is.
Are you now ready to begin a zoo accident compensation claim? Or, would you prefer to speak to our advisors to ask some more questions? Whatever your position, you could get in touch with us in a number of different ways. You could opt to use the live chat on the site or fill out the contact form. Or, you may prefer to email us on email@example.com. Of course, if you call us on 0800 073 8801, we’d be able to offer you support and advice right away or provide you with a solicitor if you could be eligible to make a claim. We look forward to hearing from you, however you choose to get in touch with us.
Injured at the zoo – FAQs
Can I sue for injuries sustained in a zoo?
If the operator of the zoo has been negligent in some way and causes an accident to happen, you could claim compensation for any injuries sustained. This could include injuries sustained in a fall, because of damaged fencing or because an animal escaped and hurt you.
If my child is injured at the zoo, can they claim compensation?
Children (under 18-year olds) cannot take legal action themselves. However, it is possible for a parent to become a litigation friend and represent their child. If this doesn’t happen, the child can claim on their own once they turn 18.
What are the time limits for zoo injury claims?
Like other personal injury claims, you will have 3-years to make a claim if you’re injured whilst visiting a zoo. This period will usually start from the date of the incident.
Could I claim if I’m bitten at a zoo?
Where inadequate safety measures are in place or fencing is damaged, you could be entitled to claim compensation following a bite at a zoo. However, if you put your finger into an animals cage despite signs warning you not to, a successful claim would be unlikely.
For free legal advice on making zoo accident claims, please call our specialists today.
What animal causes the most zookeeper injuries?
The guidance from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) is extensive. It recognises that there are risks of harm via injury and also illness caused by animals in zoos and aquariums. It asks that when risk assessments are being performed, care is taken to assess the physical risks that come from the power and the size of the animal, its natural Instincts, and its group behaviour.
BIAZA ask that breeding and other behaviours are also considered as well as whether the animal is predatory. They mention that some animals have the capacity to kill or injure. BIAZA also provide guidance on assessing the risks of biological harm such as infectious diseases, natural chemicals or infection due to the waste from the animals.
How long does it take to get compensation for zoo accidents?
The time it takes to settle a claim could vary. Some claims for zoo accidents could be straightforward. The liable party could immediately admit that they are liable and offer compensation. If this is a fair offer, your claim could be completed quite quickly. However, in some cases, the defendant could dispute liability. If this happens, or they dispute how severe your injuries are, your claim could take longer to settle.
If you would like to speak to us about how long it could take to receive compensation, please call the team. We’d be happy to help you.
Our Guide To Trips, Slips And Falls – If your zoo accident has involved a slip, trip or fall, this guide could help you.
Accidents At Work – If you were injured while working at the zoo, this guide could offer some useful information when it comes to making a claim against an employer.
Injured In The Car Park? – This guide could offer some useful information for you if you’re considering making a claim for an accident that happened in the zoo car park.
HSE Information For Zoo Operators – This HSE publication shows the considerations that should be made when managing a zoo.
Qualification Criteria For Zookeepers – This page reveals the framework required to become a qualified zookeeper.
Police Incidents At Dudley Zoo – Here, you can see a response to a Freedom of Information request concerning police incidents in and around Dudley zoo.
Thank you for reading our guide on claiming if you are injured at the zoo.
Article by Jo