Hotel Liability and Personal Injuries

By Pauline Nassif, Civil Litgation Paralegal

Its summertime and you enjoying vacationing with your family soaking in the surf and sun at your favorite seaside getaway staying at a lovely hotel ... until you slip and fall in the hotel lobby and suffer an injury.  Is it possible to sue the hotel? Yes it is, however only under certain conditions. Hotels are responsible for injuries on their grounds if the injuries are reasonably foreseeable and caused by the negligence of the hotel.  But not all injuries occur due to negligence or are foreseeable.

Premises Liability

Property owners and land holders like hotels are responsible for maintaining safety on the grounds of their premises. A hotel could be liable for a slip and fall injury anywhere on the grounds of their property but only if the hotel staff knew or should have known that there was a potentially dangerous issue that existed.  When staff or management ignore an issue which could be potentially dangerous or avoid fixing that dangerous issue and it leads to injury the hotel is considered negligent in its actions or inactions.  When negligence is shown, the hotel will be liable for injuries caused as a result of its staff failures. However, if a person is injured by another person at the hotel or is the victim of a crime just outside the hotel, unless the hotel knew or should have known of the danger to the patron, then a negligence claim will not be successful.

Proving Negligence

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

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Causation
  • Harm (damages)

This means that the injured party or parties pursuing a claim to sue a hotel for negligence will have to show first that a duty of care existed between the hotel and its guest(s). This element is fairly easy to prove in the case of the lobby slip and fall, since it is unlikely that a hotel could successfully argue that it did not owe a 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. Falling on a wet floor and becoming injured is a reasonably foreseeable result of the failure to maintain a dry floor and monitor the grounds of the hotel and you would 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 and have your claim assessed.