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When Are Hotels Liable for Injuries?

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on January 05, 2016 11:10 AM

You are staying at The Ritz Carlton and loving it ... until you slip and fall in the hotel lobby and hurt your back. Can you sue?

Yes. Hotels are responsible for reasonably foreseeable injuries on their premises caused by their negligence. But not all injuries happen due to negligence, or are foreseeable, so let's take a look at the elements of a claim and what you will have to prove to get the Ritz to pay for your hospital stay.

Premises Liability

Property owners and land holders are responsible for maintaining the safety of their premises. A hotel might be liable for a slip in the lobby or the bar or even the front walkway.

But that is only the case if hotel staff knew or should have known that there was an issue. Ignoring or avoiding an issue that could cause injury is negligent, and when negligence is shown, the hotel will be liable for injuries caused as a result of its staff failures. On the other hand, say a hotel patron is the victim of a crime just outside, unless the hotel knew or should have known of the danger to the patron, then a negligence claim will not succeed.

Proving Negligence

Someone is negligent when they breach a duty of care and cause injury which results in compensable harm. To succeed in a negligence claim, each individual element of the previous sentence must be shown. So the plaintiff must prove:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Causation
  • Harm (damages)

That means that plaintiffs seeking to sue a hotel for negligence will have to show first that a duty of care existed between the hotel and its guests. This element is easy in the case of the lobby slip and fall, as it is unlikely that a hotel could successfully argue that it owes no duty to its patrons to maintain a safe lobby.

To show that this duty was breached, the plaintiff would have to introduce evidence that hotel staff knew or should have known that the floor was slippery. A fall on a wet floor is a reasonably foreseeable result of failure to monitor and maintain a dry floor and if you are injured from that fall, then you will likely succeed in your negligence claim.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you have been injured in a hotel or on the premises of any other business, speak to a lawyer about a possible claim. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee. Get your claim assessed.

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