At their best, hotels can be wonderful places. If you’re on vacation, they can have landscaped pool areas where you might sit and relax with a cocktail. When traveling on business, they provide necessary workstations and rooms that accommodate your needs. Bigger hotels have large ground staffs that maintain the public areas to keep them safe for guests, and smaller hotels do the same with fewer employees, but hopefully just as well. Occasionally, however, something can go wrong, and a hotel guest or invitee is injured in an accident while in a room or on hotel grounds. If this happens to you, it is useful to know your rights, and how to proceed.
If The Hotel Was Negligent
If a hotel is negligent, i.e., violates the duty of reasonable care to its guests, it bears responsibility for the consequences. This means that if a broken beer bottle has been sitting under a chaise lounge by the swimming pool for days, and you step on it and sever a tendon in your foot, the hotel and its insurance will probably be liable to reimburse you for your injuries, including medical expenses and other losses you may incur that flow from the accident. Similarly, if you are hurt in a fall because the lobby floor is slippery from being washed and there is no warning sign, the hotel has likely violated its duty of care to you, in which case it can be legally responsible to provide compensation for your doctor’s bills etc. The difficult part, as discussed later, is when it is unclear whether the hotel’s actions were actual negligence: for this, your best course will be to consult a seasoned personal injury attorney.
How to Proceed
If an accident occurs at a hotel, you should immediately summon assistance, and if you are injured, seek medical care as soon as possible. You will need to advise the hotel staff of what has occurred, and they will usually take a statement from you. Later on, it will become important that the details of the accident as you attest to them (should a lawsuit arise) are consistent with statements you made right after the accident happened. If in the ensuing weeks you have doctors’ visits, treatments, etc., you should keep an organized record of these, along with the bills, even if your insurance has paid them.
A Hotel’s Responsibilities
A hotel’s duty of reasonable care to its patrons applies in many different types of scenarios, to those risks that are foreseeable. In addition to obvious safety risks such as our broken bottle, they are responsible for risks that are not obvious, such as uneven pavement which has caused prior accidents, poorly lit walkways where guests have fallen in the past, or a heavy bathtub faucet which falls on and injures a guest’s toe. Innkeepers must adhere to local fire and safety standards, regularly inspect such areas as staircases and hallways for hazardous conditions, and have sufficient entrances and exits. Elevators also have safety regulations that require regular inspection and maintenance. Vigilance is key: if the hotel has been lax in surveying its grounds and common areas, or keeping its rooms in good repair, it is legally responsible for injuries and accidents that occur.
Whose Fault Was It?
If you have suffered an injury while visiting a hotel, you should consult a personal injury attorney who is experienced in “premises liability”: where the owner of a premises fails to maintain it in a reasonably safe condition. Keep in mind that a hotel has this duty, even with respect to injury by other guests, or negligent acts by its own staff. An experienced attorney will review all of the information surrounding your accident, and help you to evaluate whether the hotel knew or should have known of the risk to you, did not take adequate steps to prevent the harm that you suffered, and therefore acted negligently or carelessly.
If you have been injured in a hotel accident of any kind, consult the Cullotta Bravo Law Group as soon as possible. Our skilled attorneys can guide you regarding how to proceed under the particular circumstances of your case. Call us at 630-898-7800, or contact us online.