Schemery Zicolello

Are hotels responsible for injuries on their premises?

Premises liability laws protect people who are visiting the property of another. These laws require property owners to keep their properties safe for the people who are invited to visit it. Whether the visitors are visiting the property for business or personal reasons, these visitors have the right to expect that the property is reasonably free from hazardous conditions. Businesses have an especially high duty when compared with Pennsylvania homeowners. Businesses must take extra measures to make sure the public is safe.

Hotels are businesses, but often function like a residence. This can lead to some questions about a hotel's responsibility to keep people safe. As the summer travel season starts, many Pennsylvania residents might be wondering: are hotels legally responsible when injuries happen on their properties?

The answer to this question depends on how and where the accident occurred. Because premises liability cases heavily rely on the facts in each cases, this blog post should only be used as background information. For specific legal advice, an attorney should be consulted.

Generally, however, if an accident occurs within the hotel and was under the hotel's control, the hotel could be held responsible. In other words, if the hotel knew about, or should have known about, a particular danger, then they may be held liable for any injuries. This could include a slip-and-fall accident in a hotel lobby, for example. If an injury occurs in a parking lot of the hotel due to ice or snow, the hotel might also be liable.

If an injury occurs because of a third-party, like during a crime, in the hotel parking lot, or near the hotel, the hotel could still be held liable. If the hotel had reason to know about criminal activity and could have taken steps to prevent it then the hotel might be responsible. These steps may have included warning patrons of the danger or increasing the number or effectiveness of security systems in the area.

Source: Findlaw, "Premises Liability FAQ," accessed April 4, 2015

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