Hotel and Motel Negligence

People who are traveling want to – and should be able to – feel safe when they stop to rest for the night. However, every year, many people are injured at hotels and motels across the country. Injuries can result from virtually limitless possibilities. Some of the most common ways in which people are injured at hotels or motels include:

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Failure to provide security
  • Elevator malfunctions
  • Staircase injuries
  • Swimming pool injuries
  • Spa injuries
  • Food-related illness or injury

In addition to accidents occurring at hotels as a result of negligent conduct on the part of hotel or motel employees, these establishments can, if certain requirements are met, be held liable for injuries to guests that result from the criminal actions of third parties. The general rule in California is that the owner of the premises on which a person is injured is not responsible for harm caused by third parties outside the owner's control. However, in some cases, extenuating circumstances will create an exception to this rule.

A hotel injury lawyer will look at the unique facts of each case to determine whether the criteria required to meet the exception are present in that case. While there are several factors that California law uses to determine whether or not the owner of the hotel should be legally responsible for injuries caused by third party actions on his or her property, the overriding question that courts consider is whether the conduct of that third party was something that the owner should reasonably have been able to foresee happening. In most cases, this comes down to whether there were any previous, similar incidents on the property. For example, a court might find that the owner of a hotel should be liable for injuries sustained by a guest during a violent mugging in the parking garage if there had been several other violent robberies in the parking garage in the fairly recent past. On the other hand, if a patron was injured during a mugging, and such an incident had never happened before, the hotel would likely not be liable to the guest because the owner could not foresee it happening.

It is important for local residents to speak to a California hotel injury attorney so that he or she can assess whether or not the hotel is likely to be found liable for your injuries.

In California, the statute of limitations for injuries sustained as a result of hotel or motel negligence is two years. The statute of limitations starts on the date of the injury. (Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. §335.1) In other words, if the claim has not ended in settlement, or if a lawsuit has yet to be filed, and two years have passed since the injury occurred, the injured person will not be permitted to pursue money damages for these injuries, regardless of the circumstances.

In addition to the statute of limitations that applies to all claims, cases against public entities, such as cities, school districts, or states have certain requirements that must be met before a lawsuit may be commenced. Typically, a claim has to be filed with the governmental agency or organization prior to any suit being filed, and this must be done no later than six months after the date of injury. Therefore, in any cases where there is any chance that a governmental entity may be a defendant, it is essential to consult with an attorney before the six months have passed. This is typically not a concern when dealing with hotel or motel negligence, but it is always important to speak to a lawyer within this six-month time frame just in case. Sometimes, a governmental entity can end up being a defendant, even where it is not an obvious one.