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Are Hotels Liable for Stolen Property?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on December 01, 2015 1:03 PM

No one wants to think about crime on vacation, but you may have no choice. We tend to think of hotels as our home away from home and we trust hotels to be as secure as our homes. And if something is stolen from our hotel room or on hotel property, we naturally want to hold the hotel responsible.

But is that legal? And are there limits to hotel liability when it comes to stolen property?

Location Liability

In the old days, hotels were liable for your property during your stay. So if property was stolen from your room, the hotel would be on the hook. But that's not always the case now. Many states have passed laws that limit the liability of hotels if a guest's property is stolen or destroyed while at the hotel. So even if the hotel is at fault for the loss of your property, it may not be required to repay the full dollar value of your loss.

There are exceptions to this rule, however. If the hotel failed to exercise reasonable care in protecting your property, like failing to secure doors, hallways, or parking lots, the hotel could be liable for the full value of your property.

Similar to how your personal property is handled inside the hotel, the hotel could also be liable if property is stolen out of your car while parked on hotel property. And if the hotel was negligent, or did not exercise reasonable care in protecting your car, then it may be liable for damages to your car as well.

Employee Accountability

Another way hotels may be liable for stolen property is by "respondeat superior" -- a legal theory that holds employers responsible for the employees' acts. If your property is stolen or damaged by a hotel employee, the hotel could be responsible for negligent hiring, training, supervision, or retention.

Stolen property can turn your dream getaway into a nightmare. If you've had property stolen at a hotel, or are having trouble recovering the value of stolen property from a hotel, you may want to consult an experienced consumer protection attorney near you.

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