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When Someone Gets Hurt at a Hotel, Who Pays?

Posted in Our Blog on June 5, 2022

If someone has been harmed as a result of a dangerous situation on hotel property or the negligence of a hotel employee, a personal injury lawsuit is likely to be filed. Injuries to hotel visitors might be held accountable in a variety of instances, ranging from slip and fall accidents to wrongful death claims. The injured claimant must establish that his or her harm was caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence in most personal injury lawsuits.

Negligence will almost certainly be required in order to hold a hotel legally liable for injuries sustained on the grounds. Experienced attorneys know how to file an injury claim for negligence after sustaining an injury at a hotel. 

Hotel Duties to Its Guests 

Guests in hotels should be aware of specific rules, regulations, and policies that may affect their stay. Because its businesses are open to the general public, the “hospitality industry” has unique challenges.

The hotel’s duty to offer safe premises is based on the common law duty it owes to its guests as a group known as invitees. As invitees, hotels are required by common law to take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of their visitors and guests. Hotels may be deemed negligent if they knew or should have known of the existence of a danger or hazard based on a reasonable inspection and failed to fix it or notify visitors about the hazard or danger.

As a result, hotels have a proactive responsibility to investigate and seek out hazards that may not be readily obvious, observed, or acknowledged by visitors and guests. They may also have a duty to notify guests of potential dangers or hazards. The hotel may be liable for any loss or damage caused by its carelessness and negligence if the risk of harm or damage was foreseeable, and the hotel failed to exercise reasonable care to either eliminate the risk or alert visitors of its presence. This is the proximate cause element of negligence, which is discussed more thoroughly below. 

Origin of the Injury 

Being able to recover from the hotel for an injury sustained on the premises also depends on who caused the injury, commonly referred to as fault. If the guest was partially or fully at fault for the injury, then the compensation gained will be greatly reduced or nothing at all. 

Some states allow for compensation for hotel personal injury cases even if the injured party is partly at fault. Louisiana operates under a comparative fault rule, which does allow recompense when there is partial fault established. The comparative fault laws in Louisiana allow plaintiffs to collect based on the amount of percentage a person is at fault. For example, if a plaintiff is 20% at fault and the defendant is 80% at fault, the plaintiff can only receive 80% of the damages. 

Proving Negligence After Sustaining an Injury at a Hotel

To hold a hotel accountable for an injury or damage, some amount of negligence by hotel workers must be demonstrated. When a hotel fails to appropriately protect its guests and employees, it is considered negligent under Louisiana law.

Eyewitness testimonies, physical evidence, and inquiries of hotel staff regarding their procedures can all be used to prove negligence on the part of the hotel. However, because proving negligence can be challenging, many victims seek the assistance of experienced personal injury attorneys.

A personal injury attorney will establish negligence by proving the four elements under the law. Those four elements are: (1) duty, (2) breach, (3) causation, and (4) damages. Duty means that the hotel is responsible for its guests and employees—they owe a duty of care to all people on the premises. Next, when proving negligence, there must be some sort of breach of the duty of care, like a hazard that was not attended to by the hotel. Then, that breach of the duty of care must have been the proximate causation of the injuries. In other words, the hotel’s actions or inactions caused the injury sustained on the premises. Finally, some form of damages must be established to meet all requirements of negligence. 

Hotel Liability for Their Employees 

Employees can bring a lawsuit against a hotel for unsafe working conditions and other violations that could result in bodily injury. Unfortunately, this is a typical occurrence in the United States, according to a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, which indicated that hotel employees have a greater prevalence of workplace injuries than other categories of service workers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around one out of every 1,000 hotel employees is injured on the job each year. As a result, hotel employees may be interested in retaining experienced legal counsel when filing a claim or lawsuit against their employer, the hotel. 

Hotel Liability for Employee’s Actions 

Just like a hotel can be held accountable if an employee is injured, a hotel will also be responsible if the employee causes an injury. A hotel may be held accountable for the detrimental activities of its staff under a legal theory known as vicarious liability.  

Whether or not the employee’s acts were “within the scope of employment” determines the hotel’s liability. Even if the hotel did not endorse the conduct, was uninformed of the occurrence or did not have direct control or supervision over the employee at the time of the incident, the hotel may be held accountable. However, under a vicarious liability approach, the hotel is unlikely to be found accountable for an employee’s intentional act (i.e. battery, assault, etc.). 

Hotel Injuries in Conclusion 

If someone has been injured on hotel premises, whether they are an employee, guest, or visitor, it is likely that the hotel will be responsible for any injuries sustained to that person. Even if a court finds that both parties are party responsible for the injuries, a hotel will still be liable and will likely have to pay some or all of the damages that were claimed in a lawsuit.