Hotel and motel owners have a responsibility to protect their guests from criminal offenders. Negligent property owners can be held accountable for allowing crime to occur.
Some crime victims and families may be eligible to secure financial compensation. You and your loved ones deserve justice. We can help. Contact our negligent security lawyers now for a free consultation.
Every hotel in the country has an essential duty to protect guests and employees from violent crime. Hotels and motels are responsible for implementing thorough security programs to deter potential criminal offenders and respond adequately when something goes wrong. But all too often, these vital security measures fall into disrepair or aren't taken into account in the first place.
If a hotel serves alcohol and then decides to provide alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual who is planning to drive, and that individual subsequently causes harm to another person due to impaired driving, the hotel may become susceptible to a "drunk driving accident lawsuit" filed on behalf of the injured victim.
In the event that a hotel experiences security issues, and the property owner is aware that the premises are at risk for criminal activities but fails to offer adequate security measures for its guests and individuals with legitimate reasons to be on the property, the hotel could be held responsible for any incidents involving shootings, mass shootings, or stabbings that occur within or on the hotel premises.
When hotels or motels provide inadequate security, guests, visitors, and employees are left vulnerable to a wide range of traumatic and damaging criminal offenses, including assault, battery, robbery, and sexual abuse.
Most crime victims aren't fully aware of their rights under civil law. While many people understand that, after being affected by crime, they can press charges in a criminal case, our clients are often surprised to learn that they may also have a viable cause of action in civil court, where criminal offenders and certain third-party property owners can be sued for financial compensation.
No reasonable guest would stay at a hotel or motel if they knew the property's owner was skimping on security. And no reasonable hotel owner would rent rooms to paying customers in full knowledge that guests would be assaulted, robbed, or murdered during their stay.
Thankfully, state law obligates hotel and motel owners to establish appropriate safety precautions for the benefit of guests and employees. Every state has a body of premises liability law, which allows injured crime victims to pursue compensation from negligent property owners. In short, hotel and motel owners who fail to provide or maintain adequate security can be held liable in civil court for the injuries caused by a criminal offender.
Every negligent security lawsuit is unique. Every hotel and motel is unique, too, which means that what counts as acceptable security at any one property will vary.
Courts take these factual differences very seriously. Hotels located in high-crime neighborhoods are usually held to a higher security standard than other properties. Motels out in the middle of nowhere, far from emergency services, need to take extra precautions that aren't necessary in the center of a bustling metropolis. And perhaps most importantly, motels and hotels with a history of violent crime should do their utmost to protect guests and employees in the future.
Judges will take all of these nuances into account before deciding what "reasonable" security measures should look like in any one case. After doing so, it's the plaintiff's job to show that the motel or hotel's owner failed to provide reasonable security, allowing a violent crime to occur.
Many negligent security cases come down to the concept of foreseeability. Courts usually hold that a property owner has no obligation to prevent something they couldn't see coming in the first place.
If rape had never occurred at a particular motel, it's hard to argue that the motel's owner should have been working vigilantly to prevent similar assaults. At another motel, however, where a number of rapes had been committed in the last few years, we can easily argue that the property's owner should have been on the lookout for better ways to protect guests.
The basic question becomes whether or not the property's owner had prior notice that similar crimes were likely to happen in the future.
Once a motel or hotel owner has received (or should have received) notice of potential danger, they have two options.
Take stock of the property's security measures. Fix broken locks. Ensure that the security camera system is operating correctly. Outfit the parking lot with bright lights. Station-trained security guards at entrances and exits to keep tabs on visitors. Thoroughly vet all potential employees to root out those with unsavory intentions. Keep guest room numbers private. Make sure that the clerks carefully screen all visitors to identify trespassers.
And going forward, make sure that all of these security processes are maintained, night in and night out. When security guards are scheduled, they have to show up. When a hallway light burns out, it needs to be replaced. The second option is to turn a blind eye to violent crime and do nothing. That's negligent. It's also the beginning of a viable negligent security lawsuit.
Thousands of hotel guests are stolen from every year. Violent crime may be rare, but it's not unheard of. Armed robberies remain common at motels and hotels across the country, especially small, independent businesses located off major highways and hotels in high-crime areas. Murders and assaults in major cities shock the public. It only takes a second for violent crime to ruin someone's life, but in many cases, the heinous acts of offenders were allowed to occur because a hotel or motel fell down on the job.
Our experienced negligent security attorneys can help. If you or a loved one were injured due to a hotel or motel's negligence, contact our lawyers today for a free legal consultation. You can learn more about your rights and legal options now - at no charge and no obligation.