Understanding Hotel Premises Liability Cases
Georgia is a unique state in terms of its geography, history and culture. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, our state welcomed a record 111.7 million visitors in 2018. Millions of these people stayed in our hotels, and Georgia tourism has become a $68.96 billion industry.
The hotel industry profits enormously from tourism and travel in Georgia. In return, hotels that do business in Georgia have a duty to keep their hotels safe for visitors. Despite this duty, thousands of personal injuries occur each year in Georgia hotels. Some of these accidents are unavoidable, and other times hotel patrons irresponsibly cause harm to themselves in ways the hotel can’t control. But in a majority of cases, a hotel is at fault for failing to maintain the safety of the hotel premise.
Georgia Premises Liability Claims Against Hotels
Premises liability claims in Georgia derive from Title 51 Chapter 3 Section 1 of the Official Code of Georgia. This law holds that when landowners invite others onto their property, including when hotels invite people to stay in the hotel, they must “exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.” This duty of ordinary care means hotel rooms and other hotel spaces must be free from conditions that could cause harm. It also means hotels must take reasonable precautions to maintain hotel security and ensure areas like workout rooms and swimming pools are safe for guests.
When is a Hotel Liable for Injuries?
There are many instances in which a hotel may be liable, and there are a few cases that have taken place in our area. If you’ve been harmed because of an unsafe condition that existed in a hotel, you may be entitled to compensation. The key to determining if a hotel is liable for the harm depends on whether the hotel failed to “exercise ordinary care.” There are several important factors that go into this determination, including:
- The condition that caused the harm must be dangerous or unreasonable
- The hotel must have failed to remedy the condition and/or failed to warn hotel patrons about the risk, even though it had the opportunity to do so
- The dangerous condition must have caused the harm
What is Involved in a Hotel Premises Liability Case?
These elements may seem simple, but hotel premises liability cases are often highly complex and hotly contested. Hotels will fight tooth and nail to avoid liability in court. Hotels that are a part of a larger chain may put up a particularly tough fight. Proving that a condition was dangerous and that it was the cause of the harm often requires expert witnesses and eyewitness testimony. In some cases, a medical expert may also be necessary to explain to the court exactly how the hotel defect caused the harm.
However, it is not enough to prove that a dangerous condition existed and caused the harm. A hotel must have negligently failed to fix the problem. This means it must be proved that a hotel knew or should have known about the condition and failed to fix the problem or warn patrons about it.
Georgia courts follow the “superior knowledge” doctrine, which holds that a hotel must have had superior knowledge of the dangerous condition when compared to the plaintiff. Therefore, if a plaintiff was aware of the danger but ignored the risk, the business may not be liable, even if they knew or should have known about the risk. Proving that a hotel could have or should have remedied the problem can also require large amounts of evidence, such as hotel records or surveillance footage.
If You’ve Been Injured While Staying at a Georgia Hotel, Call Williams Elleby Today to Discuss Your Case
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Georgia hotel, the legal team at Williams Elleby can help you get the compensation you deserve. Williams Elleby offers free consultations and accepts cases on a contingency fee basis. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Williams Elleby represents clients in all areas of Georgia. To discuss your case, call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542).