Florida is by far one of the most popular vacation and tourism destinations. However, when a person goes on vacation, the last thing he or she expects is to suffer a terrible injury while staying in a hotel or resort. Under Florida statutory law, a hotel may be liable for any injuries that a hotel guest received as a result of a slip and fall on the hotel premises, if the injured guest can prove that the dangerous condition existed for a period of time enough for the hotel to know about it. In addition to the statutory law, Florida common law comes from judicial decisions in the cases where hotels were sued as a result of slip and falls.
According to Florida common law, the individual or entity who owns or operates a hotel has a duty to protect its guests. It means that, by law, the owners or operators of the hotels must continuously keep their premises, buildings, appliances, and anything else, related to daily operations of the hotel, in a safe condition in order to avoid injuries to their guest who pay to stay on the premises and assume that areas that the guests usually use, such as rooms, pools, lobbies, spa, restaurants, etc., are safe to use. A few examples of dangerous conditions on the premises are obstructed steps and passageways; defective furniture; bath tubs, showers, and stairs without non-slip protection; pool areas; liquid substances spilled on the premises; and other defective conditions.
Hotel Safety Inspections
Every hotel in the State of Florida is required to have in place certain inspections and procedures that are implemented on a regular basis to avoid slip and falls and other accidents on their premises. A lack of inspection procedures could make the hotel potentially liable for its guest’s injuries, if the defect could be discovered upon reasonable inspection. Another duty that hotels owe to their guests is to warn the guest of a hidden danger that it knew or had a reason to know, such as a non-textured bath tub or uneven pavement on the premises.
In addition, a hotel’s owner or operator’s duty to provide guests with safe premises cannot be transferred to another person or entity. But in the situation, where an independent contractor is involved in the operation or installation of anything on the premises, the hotel can sue and recover from that contractor or manufacturer by bringing a common law indemnity claim.
Should Hotel Guests Know Better?
Quite often, hotel owners and operators blame their injured guests for the slip and falls, claiming that they were negligent. However, Florida courts have found that hotel guests were not negligent if they did not look for dangerous conditions and were not obligated to watch before they made every step. They only have a duty of general lookout in the direction they are moving in, and must avoid only obvious or known dangers.
Even when it’s dark in the hotel room, for example, and a patron walks into the bathroom for the first time where in order to turn on the light he/she has to cross the entire bathroom, trips on the rolled bath mat and falls, the patron would not be negligent because nothing could notify him or her of the danger. In contrast, a guest who is injured going down the stairs in the dark without an emergency should have known that it is not safe, and will be negligent for not protecting his/her own safety. Same applies to liquid substances and their locations. Water collected on the bottom of a bath tub should make hotel guests inspect the tub prior to using it. However, when it comes to wax, syrup, soapy water or floor cleaners, the hotel owners will be liable for injuries. If the item claimed to be a dangerous condition is not slippery, such as a cigar butt on the floor in the lobby, at the entrance, or on the steps of the hotel, the hotel will avoid the liability.
Florida Hotel Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one has questions about an accident that occurred while staying at a hotel and/or resort, you need to make sure you get the right answers. The best way to know if you have a case is to reach out to an attorney and explain to them what happened. The hotel accident attorneys of Madalon Law are based out of Fort Lauderdale, but handle accident cases in popular vacation destinations like Orlando, Tampa, Miami, the Keys and the rest of the State of Florida. Contact us now and we will answer your questions for free.