Were You Injured At a Hotel?
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Are you planning a trip this year? If so, it is very important to understand the legal principles of liability of the hotel facilities before you go. With the right knowledge, you will have a better idea of when it is appropriate and even necessary to contact a hotel accident lawyer for help in case of any hotel injury claims.
Traveling and staying at a hotel is just part of our culture, both in America and worldwide, and accidents do happen. When you are renting a car or hotel room, it’s important to know your rights if you have an accident and your party needs to move forward with any hotel negligence settlements.
Contacting Hotel Insurance Company: Do I Need a Hotel Injury Lawyer?
Shortly after your accident, the hotel insurance company will most likely contact you. If you are offered hotel injury compensation, think carefully before accepting. You want to be sure that this agreement will actually cover all damages related to your injury, including not only your medical bills, but also your pain and suffering. The best way to act is simply to hire a law firm of experienced hotel accident lawyers, like those at Avrek Law, who will communicate with the hotel insurance company on your behalf.
Common Causes of Hotel Injuries
Hotels have a high duty of care and legal obligation to ensure their facilities (including the hotel, its gardens and even its shuttles) are safe for its guests. This duty extends to having adequate security in such a way that clients are not harmed by criminal assault or theft. As a visitor of the hotel, you are considered a “guest” for legal purposes. This means that you are entitled to protection against any reasonably foreseeable damage, and can file a hotel personal injury claim.
The management of the hotel must do everything sensible in their power to protect you against the risks one might anticipate. Preventable risks in hotels include:
Kids and adults both love swimming pools while on vacation, but they are very dangerous. If the pool deck is slippery a guest can easily fall and break bones, or suffer a head injury or concussion. Pools not properly supervised by a lifeguard can also be a major problem.
Slip and falls
Slipping and falling is common at hotels and public venues. Slippery tile floors, worn out carpeting or cracked flooring can cause a guest to trip. Rubber mats are also known for causing guests to fall into hotel doors, which can initiate hotel slip and fall settlements.
To save money, many hotels will repair old or broken in-house rather than purchasing new items. The problem with this is that the repair work isn’t always done right, and down the road a guest can easily get hurt on a chair that isn’t safe.
Unfortunately, bed bugs are often found in some hotel mattresses, pillows and furniture. Many people experience allergic reactions to these bugs bites, which can be severe. As well, people can experience secondary infections of the skin due to these bites.
Hotel guests, especially naive tourists, can be vulnerable to assault because they carry cash and credit cards on them while vacationing. Criminals know that these guests are easy targets and they prey on them, and if a hotel fails to offer adequate security, criminals can end up physically injuring these travelers.
People staying at hotels deal with burn injuries more than you might think. Burns can occur if hot water thermostats are too high and a guest is burned in the shower, if a radiator or heater is too hot and not covered properly, or if an in-room iron isn’t working properly.
Other risks to be aware of are:
- Inadequate lighting
- Defective plugs that could cause electrocution
- Defects in construction (protruding nails, unsafe rails, etc.)
Some possible examples of risks that would not be reasonable for the hotel to anticipate and prevent include:
- Falls or injuries suffered by people who are intoxicated
- A guest stumbling across a clearly visible step while texting
What if I’m Injured While Out of the State from Which I Live?
If you are travelling outside of the state in which you normally reside or out of the range of your own insurance company, do not be scared.
- You still have the right to receive hotel injury compensation
- Immediately notify both your lawyer and the hotel’s insurance company that you are injured
- Seek medical attention
- Communicate with your lawyer and ask what your options are depending on your case
As a side note, if you are injured in an Uber while on vacation, make sure to read about that situation, too.
Hotel Negligence Settlements and Burden of Proof
During 2012, a man whose pregnant wife was killed in an accident at a South Florida hotel got compensation for involuntarily manslaughter of $24,000,000. The ruling highlights several important points about involuntary manslaughter agreements and personal injury cases in general.
The complaint must include all responsible parties. Often, more than one defendant can and should be included in the personal injury lawsuit. Including multiple defendants not only ensures that it will hold all parties guilty of the accident accountable, but also helps to increase the potential for maximum compensation. In this particular case, two parties were to blame for the involuntary manslaughter: the hotel and the drunk driver who crashed in the hotel, killing Alanna DeMella.
The fault of the drunk driver was clear. She had an alcohol rate three times above the legal limit, which caused her to lose control of the vehicle down the street and crash into the pool area of the hotel and into the cabin that was next to the pool where DeMella was resting. The driver was convicted on two charges of DUI homicide and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The guilt of the hotel was controversial. Lawyers for the widower, Michael DeMella, argued that the hotel was aware of the danger posed by the road and yet they did not build any barriers or take any other steps to protect the pool area against this danger. In particular, the cabin where Alanna DeMella was killed was right next to a sharp bend in the road, and motorists who take this path as a shortcut often accelerate around this dangerous curve.
The lawyers alleged that hotel management had referred to this road as a “race track”, indicating the knowledge of this danger. In the end, the jury found that the hotel had 15% of the fault of the accident, so the company was responsible for paying $3.6 million of the $24 million in damages set by the court. The drunk driver took care of the rest.
Resolving a case in court takes time.
Another important point raised by this case is the fact that resolving a personal injury claim can be a time-consuming process, especially if the case should go to court. These delays make an out-of-court settlement an attractive option for many plaintiffs.
Verdicts may be subject to appeals.
Burden of Proof for Hotel Injury Settlements
What happens if the hotel breaches their duty of care and you’re injured? To succeed in a personal injury claim against the hotel, the law requires that you meet a burden of proof.
To meet the burden of proof you must have sufficient evidence that proves:
- The hotel breached its duty by letting you get injured
- The hotel had a duty of care to protect you from harm
- Your injury resulted in specific damages
Evidence to Prove Hotel Injury Claims
If you are injured in a hotel, the first thing you should do is decide if you need immediate medical attention. If you do, make a call to 911 immediately.
If you don’t need medical help, call the hotel manager first.
This is important because you want the hotel manager to witness the conditions that caused your injury as soon as possible after the damage has occurred. Make sure they write a report. The more time that passes between your injury and you reporting it, the greater the odds the hotel will deny it.
If paramedics take you to a hospital they will document a patient transfer report. For a small fee, you’ll be able to get a copy which will greatly help your injury case. Also, be sure to ask the hospital for copies of your admitting chart and the ER doctor’s written diagnosis.
Take Photos or Video
You will also need to take your own photos from the scene of your injury. Nowadays, cell phones make great cameras and can help your injury settlement. For example, if you sat in a chair and it broke, take photos of the chair and surrounding areas, and any injuries you sustained.
Talk To Witnesses
Getting witness statements are the key to building a good case. The more witnesses you have, the better your claim will be, as insurance companies have to take the witness serious. Most importantly, don’t just rely on a single witness. If possible, get contact info from as many witnesses as possible and have them write their version of the accident immediately. Make sure their statements dated.
Overall, be sure you have documented the scene of the accident enough to preserve your right to file an accident claim against the hotel.
What is My Hotel Negligence Settlement Worth?
There is no easy way to predict (with any accuracy) what your potential settlement could be worth until you’ve discussed your case with our lawyers. Unfortunately, in some cases winning your personal injury claim against a hotel accident is a long drawn out process to get fair compensation for your injuries and suffering.
Dealing with insurance companies can be extremely complicated. Don’t try to fight the insurance companies alone, contact Avrek Law today to get a free consultation and get started on your path to financial and physical recovery. Avrek has more than 50 years experience in recovering more than $1 Billion for our accident victims, and we will fight for you to get the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries in hotel injury settlements.