Many injuries and accidental deaths can be traced back to one unfortunate decision. As a Panama City injury law firm, we not only represent those injured in area accidents, but also use this knowledge and experience to provide advice on injury and accident prevention. While snakebites are generally not the purview of a personal injury law firm (it's hard to sue the snake!), the way people respond to snake encounters can put others at risk, leading to accidental shootings and other preventable tragedies.
Last week, as detailed by WJHG, an encounter with a snake ended led to a brief, but no doubt frightening, lock-down at a local school. Officials ordered the lock-down of Walton County's Van R. Butler elementary after people reported gunfire on 30A just past noon on Thursday. Investigating deputies learned that a man had shot a rattlesnake. The man told reporters that a homeowner with young children asked for his help dealing with the snake, leading him to pull his weapon and shoot it through the head.
While it is understandable for people to have reacted with fear to what reporters say was a fairly large rattlesnake, snakes are a reality in Florida and often are out exploring this time of year. Firing a weapon is not an ideal way to deal with a snake in a residential area. An article by MSN News in late 2013 called attention to an epidemic of accidental shootings in Florida, with an accident accounting for 4 of every 10 people taken to a hospital or emergency room in the state for a non-fatal gun wound. For the past three years, accidental shootings in Florida occurred at a rate that was twice the national average.
Discharging a firearm is dangerous and there are better options for dealing with snakes. The Department of Wildlife and Ecology at the University of Florida suggests people begin by making their yards and homes less attractive to snakes. This includes keeping grass low, keeping shrubs/trees trimmed, maintaining brush and wood piles away from buildings and areas where children play, and storing wood on racks rather than on the ground. Inspecting your home for potential access points is also important, remembering that snakes can enter holes the size of a pencil!
The Department further recommends attempting to identify snakes you do encounter as either venomous or non-venomous. They suggest leaving a non-venomous snake alone as an ideal course, and using a water hose to remove a snake while staying a distance away if that is not feasible. If the snake is venomous, call a professional for help rather than trying to deal with it yourself.
Snakes can be dangerous, but you shouldn't risk one injury while trying to prevent another. Firing a gun in a residential area is rarely the best way to deal with any threat. It is the type of decision that leads to too many tragedies and the type of negligence that can give rise to a personal injury claim. If someone else's negligent or reckless action left you or a loved one injured, please call to arrange a free consultation with our Panama City accidental injury attorney to discuss your legal rights.