A recent study shows that over half of the verdicts against hotels exceed $100,000.00, with over 40% of these verdicts exceeding $1 million. Further, of all issues tried in front of jury, 70% were against the hotel.
The duty of the hotel to keep their premises safe for its guests, patrons, invitees and other third persons is often considered nondelegable. In other words, this legal duty is solely the hotel’s, and cannot be delegated to another party.
Recent jury verdicts make it abundantly clear that hotels will be liable for any dangers that could have been discovered by applying a reasonable amount of diligence in discovering such danger. In other words, dangers in hotels are foreseeable if there are any realistic way to discover them. If such information is reasonably ascertainable, the court will likely find that the dangers were foreseeable and will thus hold the hotel liable for any injury caused to another by such danger.
Examples of potential dangers that a hotel faces include, but are not limited to, inadequate lighting, lack of security systems, negligent hiring of staff, unlevel or slippery flooring, and untrained or understaffed personnel. Some of the things hotels can do to protect their business is to have daily systems in place to check for such dangers. Further, hotels should perform an annual, or semiannual, risk assessment with trained professionals to determine the legal exposure the hotel faces. Attorneys experienced in hotel and tourism law should be able to tour and audit the property and give their views on what they observe. A failure to provide such risk assessment may in fact be viewed as a reasonable step that the hotel failed to take and could subject the hotel to legal liability.