Last Update: 1/1/18
South Florida is a desired vacation destination for many people in the United States as well as those from Canada, Great Britain, and many parts of South America. Miami, in particular, has an international reputation as a place to have a great time. Hotels like the Fontainebleau and the Biltmore are considered a part of American history and are known around the world for their luxury as well as their celebrity status.
All of South Florida’s allure, has lead to our part of the state being filled with lots of hotels, motels and specialty mixed use lodging complexes (hotels combined with condos or some type of shopping venue).
From a personal injury lawyer’s perspective, all of those hotels means there is an increased chance of someone getting hurt in a slip and fall or other related premises liability accident.
Are Hotel Injuries Covered By Florida’s Premises Liability Law?
Under Florida’s premises liability law, hotels can be held liable for injuries that occur on their property to hotel guests, visitors to the hotel who are visiting a guest, and visitors to the hotel who are not visiting a guest (e.g., someone having a drink or dinner at the hotel bar or checking out the hotel for a future function).
Under this law, a hotel owner and/or operator can be responsible to pay for a victim’s damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic damages, if the hotel or one of its employees was negligent and that negligence caused the victim to get hurt (stated another way, the hotel breached its duty of care to keep its guests safe and as a result of this breach a guest was hurt).
What Is The First Step To Proving Your Hotel Slip And Fall Claim?
The first step for someone to prove their hotel slip and fall claim and receive compensation is to show how the hotel was negligent or at fault.
In most cases, this process starts with examining the statement that the victim gives to a manager or other hotel employee which details what happened (this report can really help or hurt a case – that is why it is important to be accurate and truthful – however, a victim shouldn’t worry if they forgot a detail when providing information to the person writing the report – the victim’s lawyer will know how to get that additional information to the insurance adjuster handling the file).
What Type Of Evidence Do You Need To Prove Your Case?
An injured party in a hotel slip and fall case will have to find evidence that the hotel is responsible for their damages. This likely means finding witnesses, getting their statements, and having them agree to testify, if needed, as to what they saw. It may also mean gathering photos, videos, and other documentary evidence of the accident, as well as investigating past incidents at the hotel and the past histories of the employees involved in the accident (it can also mean having to determine what type of cleaning solutions the hotel uses to clean floors and/or what type of slip resistant mats or other flooring materials they use).
While the injured victim is collecting his or her evidence, he or she should know that the insurance company for the hotel is also out there, interviewing people and taking photographs and looking into the lives of the person(s) filing a claim (that can mean looking at past lawsuits filed by the victim and even asking the victim to turn over their medical records – medical records that predate the current accident, even if the medical records are totally unrelated to the current injuries).
What Is A Victim’s Burden Of Proof In A Hotel Slip And Fall Claim?
The burden of proof for someone hurt in a slip and fall on hotel property involves finding admissible evidence of four key elements of negligence: duty, breach, cause, and harm.
A victim must be able to prove that the hotel owner and operator had a legal duty to the victim, that this duty was breached, and that the breach caused the accident, which harmed or damaged the victim.
What Duties Are Owed To Hotel Guests And Visitors?
As invitees under Florida’s premises liability law, hotel guests and visitors should expect that the hotel will exercise reasonable care to protect them while they are on or near the premises. This means, the hotel has a duty to monitor their facilities and to take immediate and reasonable steps to address potential or existing slip and fall conditions.
For example, hotel guests and visitors should expect:
- Spills or foreign substances on the floor of a restaurant or lobby will be be promptly mopped up.
- Light bulbs in hallways and stairwells will be quickly fixed to make sure there is adequate lighting in these walking areas.
- Pools and spas are routinely mopped and swept to keep them free from fall hazards.
- Slip resistant mats or other slip-resistant materials are being used (slip resistant strips on steps and slip resistant materials in bathrooms and bathtubs).
What Happens If An Employee Creates A Dangerous Condition That Leads To A Slip and Fall?
Hotels are also liable for the actions of their employees under the doctrine of “vicarious liability” in Florida. If it can be shown that the hotel worker is the cause of a dangerous condition, and the worker was acting within their “scope of employment” at the time of the accident, then the hotel can be held liable for the slip and fall even if hotel management was unaware and had no knowledge of the dangerous condition.
What Should You Do?
In Florida, the legislature has made it difficult to prove slip and fall cases, including claims against hotels. A victim must be able to prove negligence by showing how the hotel knew or should have known about the dangerous condition that caused the victim’s injuries. Until that proof is provided, an insurance adjuster will likely not place much value on a victim’s claim for damages no matter how large those damages may be.
If negotiations with the insurance company’s adjuster do not result in a settlement, then a victim’s only option is to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. At trial, the victim will have to provide witness testimony, videos, photos, janitorial logs, etc. to prove the hotel breached its duty of care and that the hotel’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries.
Therefore, a good piece of advice for someone who has been injured in a slip and fall at a hotel or other lodging establishments, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before filing a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and how most insurance companies respond to these claims. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer a victim’s questions.
- How Do You Know If a Florida Hotel Acted Reasonably In Trying To Prevent A Bathtub or Shower Slip and Fall?
- Florida Hotel Slip and Falls: What is the Victim’s Evidence Burden When Falling at Hotel and Trying to Recover Compensation?
- Hotel Accident Claims: Hurt in the Hotel Pool
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
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