The Bay area hosts more than 17 million visitors every year. With more than 200 hotels in San Francisco, about 70 in San Jose, and many more in surrounding communities, travelers have a variety of short-term housing options. While visitors hope to enjoy a safe and productive stay in the Bay area, too often they become the victim of a serious injury without ever leaving the hotel premises.
A surprising number of injuries occur in California hotels. The victims are often hotel guests, but people who enter a hotel to dine, to attend a meeting, or to meet a guest may also find themselves injured as a result of a hotel employee’s negligence. Any victim of a hotel injury may be entitled to compensation.
Causes of Hotel Injuries
The most common injuries in a hotel are caused by slip-and-fall accidents. When an employee spills a liquid while delivering room service and fails to clean the wet spot, the hotel is responsible for injuries to an unwary individual who falls on the slippery surface. Slip-and-falls can also occur on a rainy day when people track water into the lobby and the hotel staff fails to keep the floor dry. Slippery stairs, spills in hotel restaurants, and the failure to maintain non-slip surfaces in tubs and shower stalls can also lead to injuries caused by falls.
Other causes of hotel injuries include:
- Unsafe conditions in a swimming pool or hot tub that lead to drownings and other injuries.
- Poorly maintained hotel furniture, including collapsing beds and bureaus that tip over.
- Food poisoning due to contaminated food served in hotel restaurants or delivered by room service.
- Hotel shuttle accidents.
- Scalding and burns when the hotel fails to regulate water temperatures in showers.
- Poorly maintained or improperly installed exercise equipment in a fitness room, including malfunctioning treadmills and workout benches that do not support the user’s weight. Hotels can also be liable for failing to warn users of the safety precautions that must be followed to avoid injuries.
- Malfunctioning elevators and escalators.
- Balconies that do not protect hotel guests from falls.
- Worn or frayed carpeting that causes a hotel user to trip.
- Faulty electrical connections or damaged cords that lead to shocks or electrocution.
- Defective or unsafe equipment in a children’s play area.
- Inadequate security that fails to prevent attacks in hallways or hotel garages.
- Bed bugs or other unsanitary conditions that cause severe allergic reactions or infections.
Fires are particularly dangerous. In an average year, one out of every twelve hotels and motels experiences a structure fire. Smaller and older hotels may not have a sprinkler system. Even when sprinkler systems have been installed, they do not function adequately in one out of ten hotel fires.
The Hotel’s Duty
Every California property owner, including a hotel owner, has a duty to keep the property in reasonably safe condition. Hotels breach that duty when they negligently fail to inspect, repair or replace property defects, and when they fail to warn hotel users about dangerous conditions.
Hotels are not allowed to delegate that duty to another company and then blame that company for failing to do its job. For example, the hotel cannot hire a cleaning crew and then blame the cleaning crew for spilling water that causes a hotel guest to slip and fall.
Hotels are not responsible for injuries caused by unforeseeable events. While hotel owners (and their insurance companies) will sometime argue that an accidental injury was unforeseeable, evidence that similar accidents have occurred in the hotel industry can provide convincing proof that the event was one the hotel should have anticipated and avoided.
Under some circumstances, a hotel might be held responsible for acts committed by a hotel guest. For example, if the hotel bartender continues serving alcohol to a guest who is belligerent or obviously intoxicated, and that guest negligently or deliberately injures another guest, the hotel might be liable for contributing to the injury.
A hotel might also be held responsible for failing to protect guests from criminal acts if the hotel fails to provide deadbolt locks, chain locks, peepholes in doors, and other common security devices that help guests avoid contact with criminals posing as hotel staff members.
If you were injured in a California hotel, you may be entitled to compensation. Ask a personal injury attorney to evaluate the facts of your case. Make sure you act quickly so that an appropriate investigation can be launched as soon as possible.