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Legal Rights Regarding Hotel and Motel Injuries

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.

Today’s question comes from a caller who had a relative who was injured while staying at a hotel and asked “what are my legal rights if I am injured while a guest at a motel or hotel?”

Many types of injuries can occur in overnight lodging situations, even in bed and breakfast accommodations or inns and resorts.

For example, a robbery or mugging can occur while you are on the premises of a hotel or motel.

Dangerous parking lot conditions, such as unmarked curbing or potholes, can cause people to fall while walking from their vehicle to their room. In addition, people staying at hotels can get hurt while going up and down staircases that have been poorly maintained, or by venturing into a washroom that has just been mopped where an employee forgot to place a wet floor warning sign.

On top of that, all too frequently guests encounter hazards inside their hotel rooms, such as bedbugs, slippery shower surfaces, or cabinets that can be tipped or pulled over by a child.

Sometimes exercise equipment is defective, or a swimming pool has been opened to use without first being properly chlorinated or disinfected. These types of hazards can result in injury, and some of these injuries can be serious.

We recently helped a fellow who responded to a knock on his motel room door only to be robbed and shot when he opened the door. The motel had had frequent robberies, and was near an expressway where the robbers would make a fast get away, but the motel did not warn the guests and was subject to legal liability.

Out of town travelers are considered excellent prey for robbers because they tend not to want to return to testify in court if the criminal is caught and arrested.

Another incident that we helped with not long ago involved a guest who happened to be a volunteer fireman from another state, and when a fire broke out in the hotel, he helped people out of the hotel by knocking on doors, and when he came down the stairs to exit himself, he slipped and seriously hurt his back when he stepped on a mat that had hastily been put down on the freshly mopped and wet floor, which created a serious slipping hazard.

Moreover, not long ago we had an inquiry from an individual who was bitten by bedbugs and suffered a severe allergic reaction that was life-threatening. Surprisingly, this insect bite incident occurred at a very high priced hotel that had simply failed to take care of the insect dangers, and failed to follow proper cleaning and hygiene requirements.

In still another case we represented not long ago a handicapped individual who was provided a special handicap room with a shower chair that collapsed when he transferred to it, which led to serious injury.

Indiana law holds property owners, including hotel and motel owners, liable for physical harm that comes to guests of their hotels and motels because of a condition in their property.

Specifically, the law holds property owners liable for physical harm caused to their guests by a condition of property, if, but only if, the owner 3 legal criteria are met:

  1. The property owner knows about the condition or by the exercise of reasonable care should discover the condition, and should realize that the condition involves an unreasonable risk of harm to guests;
  1. The property owner should expect that guests will not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it; and
  1. The property owner fails to exercise reasonable care to protect guests against the danger.

Owners or occupiers of property, including hotels, owe a duty to use ordinary care to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition for the use of those who come upon it as guests. The owners or occupiers have a duty to warn guests of any latent dangers on their property or dangers that are not readily apparent to guests. In addition, the landowner’s duty includes a duty to inspect his premises, ascertain possible dangerous conditions, and warn guests of those conditions. This duty is active and continuous.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.