All too often these days, hotel guests are hurt by the criminal acts of another person. Assault, battery, and sexual assault are just a few of the criminal acts that good people often suffer at the hands of another. This is especially common in major metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles, where people are constantly staying in hotels for business. In such situations, it is usually clear that the party committing the criminal act (the “third party” in this article) is liable to their victim for the damages they have suffered. Unfortunately, those who commit these acts often lack the financial resources to compensate their victims for the physical and emotional damage they have caused. In such cases, it is important to know if the hotel in which the attack occurred is also liable for a victim’s injuries.
Consider the recent case of Erin Andrews, a sportscaster and current host of “Dancing with the Stars”. While she was a guest at the Nashville Marriott, Ms. Andrews’ stalker was able to find out what room she was staying in, get the room next to hers, and make a nude tape of her through the peephole of her room, which was then put on the internet. After years of litigation and the help of an experienced trial attorney, a jury awarded Ms. Andrews a well-deserved verdict of $55 million.
Although the general rule is that a party does not have a duty to protect an individual from the criminal acts of a third party, there may be a duty to protect an individual if a “special-relationship” exists, such as that between a hotel and their guests.”A proprietor that has no duty to hire a security guard or to undertake other similarly burdensome preventative measures still owes a duty of due care to a patron by virtue of the special relationship, and there are circumstances…that may give rise to liability based upon the proprietor’s special relationship.” See Delgado v. Trax Bar & Grill (2005) 36 Cal.4th 224, 240-241. As an innkeeper, a hotel has a special relationship with you as their guest. Part of the hotel’s duty is to provide a safe premises for their guests. If it can be proven that a hotel knew about a dangerous condition, including the potential for harm by another guest, the hotel may be responsible for a guest’s injuries.
If it is foreseeable that an attack may occur, a hotel may be responsible for any injury. In the Erin Andrews case above, for example, it was proven that certain actions by the hotel in providing a stranger with information about Ms. Andrews, such as stating she was a guest in the hotel, what her room number was, and then placing the unauthorized stranger (who was actually her stalker) in the room next to her, made it highly foreseeable that Ms. Andrews would suffer some sort of injury.
There are many questions that must be asked when trying to establish that a hotel or other business owner is liable for your injuries caused by a criminal act of a third party while on their property. Getting the answers to these questions and establishing liability requires investigation and tactics that are best performed by an experienced attorney.
For over 30 years The Law Offices of Vann H. Slatter have been helping victims who were injured by the criminal acts of a third party. If you or someone you know has been injured, please call us today for your free consultation at (310) 444-3010 or toll-free at (888) 293-0404.