There are nearly a half a million hotel rooms in Florida available to accommodate the hundreds of millions of out-of-state visitors welcomed to the Sunshine State each year. With an average occupancy rate of 70% and daily cost-per-room at around $138, hotel owners earn a pretty penny for their presence. Along with that prosperity comes the responsibility to prioritize guest safety. Florida hotel liability for guest injuries can be established in a court of law when there’s evidence the property owner/staff failed to use reasonable care in ensuring guest safety.
That doesn’t mean you automatically have a case just because you were injured or attacked and happened to be in a hotel. You must first prove negligence. That requires establishing the hotel’s duty of care to you, the ways in which they fell short in fulfilling that duty, and evidence of how you were harmed as a result.
Some examples of incidents that might give rise to a Florida hotel liability claim:
- Failure to fix a sidewalk out front (Ingress/Egress)
- Negligent hiring of a staffer with violent criminal background
- Inadequate security with failed locks, poor lighting, or understaffed/poorly trained security guards (particularly in areas with high crime rates)
- Failure to warn guests of a known or knowable danger
- Failure to address dangerous stairways, walkways, rugs, entrances, etc.
- Poorly maintained gym equipment
- Dated/inadequate swimming pool safety features
As our Key West, Florida hotel injury lawyers can explain, these types of personal injury/wrongful death cases fall under an area of law known as premises liability. Essentially, it allows people harmed by dangerous conditions on someone else’s property to pursue monetary damages.
As far as the exact standards to which property owners are held, some of it depends on the type/size/location of the hotel as well as where exactly the incident occurred. If it involved the hotel pool, for example, we’d be looking carefully at the building code requirements in Florida, as well as industry standard practices for commercial pool, and whether or not slip resistant materials were used. Questions will likely be raised about whether similar safety issues had cropped up in the past that would have alerted staff to the issue OR whether the danger had existed for so long that it should have been discovered by any property owner exercising reasonable care.
Another factor on which those standards may hinge is the relationship between the property owner/manager and the person hurt. Paying guests and members of the public welcomed onsite for the financial benefit of the owner are owed the greatest duty of care/highest level of protection. On the other end of the spectrum are trespassers, who generally aren’t owed any duty of care beyond restraint from active harm. There are exceptions for young kids who don’t know any better and are lured by some interesting but dangerous element of the property (attractive nuisance doctrine).
Recent Examples of Proven/Potential Florida Hotel Liability in Guest Injury Cases
A number of recent Florida hotel injury and wrongful death cases underscore the responsibility property owners – including hotels and resorts – have to the people they welcome.
Among the hotel injury cases that have made headlines over the last 18 months:
- A jury in Orange County awarded nearly $925,000 to a woman who was injured walking in the grass median of the hotel parking lot toward the resort entrance to attend a convention. The then-48-year-old reportedly stepped on an irrigation box cover – which flipped – causing her leg to crash through the hole and resulting in a serious back injury that has thus far required four back surgeries. The cover was reportedly not secured properly. The jury agreed that failure to address this hazard or warn about it amounted to negligence by the hotel.
- Parents of a toddler are suing Airbnb and the property owner for negligent cleaning after their little boy died of an overdose of fentanyl that was reportedly left there by the previous guests. (Airbnb’s aren’t “hotels,” obviously, though they can sometimes be located inside one. The online rental platform provides $ 1 million in insurance coverage for cases where owners are found legally responsible for the personal injury or death of a guest.)
- A grandmother died after allegedly being run over by a forklift at a Daytona Beach hotel that was facilitating hurricane repairs. She reportedly lived at the hotel and was walking through the parking lot at the time of the accident.
- The family of a Florida girl alleged negligent cleaning and supervision of a hotel room in Palm Beach after the girl allegedly stepped on a long needle on the carpeted floor. The needle is believed to have been left by a prior guest.
- An alleged attempted kidnapping of a 4-year-old boy at a Tampa hotel. The attempt was reportedly thwarted by an off-duty deputy staying in another room, alerted by the screams of the child’s mother. The man was arrested and charged with several felonies. He denied wrongdoing. Property owners aren’t automatically responsible for criminal attacks on site. If a civil claim is filed in this case, it would likely hinge on the alleged ease with which the suspect gained access to the locked room.
If you are injured in a Florida hotel, our Key West injury lawyers can help advise you on the viability and value of your case, as well as what steps to take to protect your rights, preserve your claim, and pursue the legal strategy that’s in your best interests.
If you are injured in Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, Cape Coral, Naples, or Key West, contact Garvin Injury Law at 800.977.7017 for a free initial consultation.
Florida Jury Sides With Hotel Guest Alleging Negligent Groundskeeping Led to Injury, Oct. 17, 2022, ALM Law.com
More Blog Entries:
How Often Do Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Win? Feb. 23, 2022, Key West Hotel Injury Lawyer Blog