If you slip and fall while in a Los Angeles hotel and sustain an injury, you may be able to sue the hotel for damages. Whether you can collect and how much you may be able to collect depends on the specific details of your accident.
Hotels often pose several risks for slipping on slick floors, spilled drinks, recently mopped areas, and uneven tiles, which could cause slip and fall accidents. Sometimes, injuries from these accidents are serious, causing high medical bills and rehabilitation costs.
Simply put, suppose you slip and fall in a hotel. In that case, you can sue the company in many cases, but it will depend on different factors. Suppose the hotel staff or management did not follow proper safety measures or were negligent.
Then, you might have the legal right to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit. Still, you must understand that suing a hotel in California is not always easy.
Successfully suing a hotel for an accident depends on how the accident occurred, the severity of the injury, if you sought medical care, how much is responsible for the damage, and your ability to work after the accident.
All cases are unique; you cannot win a set monetary amount in a slip-and-fall case. Recoverable damages vary on a case-by-case basis. Still, it is possible to recover compensation for medical bills, hospital transportation, X-rays, pain medication, and other related needs.
What Are the Requirements for Recovering Damages?
The first step for proving a hotel legally responsible for your accident is to show the hotel owner or employees were negligent. They must have breached their duty to keep guests safe from harm, and that it caused the slip and fall.
Property owners must keep their premises safe for visitors, or they could be at risk for a premises liability lawsuit. They are responsible for injuries sustained by guests if they fail to address unsafe conditions.
They could be liable for failing to repair or notifying guests of a slipping danger. Some of the common unsafe conditions at a hotel include the following:
- Wet floors;
- Broken stairs or elevators;
- Open swimming pools or gyms;
- Uneven floors;
- Insufficient lighting;
- Parking lots;
- Lack of adequate security.
Under certain circumstances, the hotel company may be responsible for a slip and fall accident. Perhaps the managers were negligent, careless, or failed to address a risky condition in a timely manner. However, you must understand that falling and getting injured alone is insufficient to prove the hotel is responsible.
All hotels have prepared legal counsel to handle slip-and-fall cases, making it challenging to take the case independently. You will need the guidance of a premises liability attorney to have the best chance of success.
Notification to the Hotel
In California, before you can sue a hotel or any other party for personal injury or property damage, you must notify them about your claim in writing.
This notice must include the date and location, a description of the incident, injuries or damages suffered, and a demand for compensation. You can file a lawsuit in court within two years of the injury (statute of limitations) if they don't respond, deny your claim, or offer an inadequate settlement.
How Can You Prove the Hotel Was Negligent?
To file a lawsuit, you must have suffered an injury due to the fall. You must also show:
- The hotel had a duty of care;
- The hotel somehow failed in that duty of care, either by action or inaction;
- The hotel's lack of care was the proximate cause of the accident;
The injured party must show the hotel had a duty and breached that duty, causing the accident, through evidence. Evidence can include eyewitness statements, video recordings, or other relevant details.
For example, documents or emails showing hotel management knew about the danger and did nothing to fix or minimize the problem.
At the same time, the hotel will also gather evidence to prove or limit its fault. The hotel wants to disprove your claim or show you were partially at fault. Helpful evidence to gather that can help establish a hotel was negligent can include the following:
- Photos or videos of the accident scene showing what caused the fall;
- A lack of wet floor caution signs in a wet area;
- Eyewitness testimony from others;
- Contact information from the employees who helped you;
- Medical records and documents;
- Your story of how the accident occurred.
What is a Duty of Care and Who is Liable?
Property owners who open their property to the public have a duty of care to their guests. This means that the property owner is responsible for ensuring the property is in good repair and that potential hazards are either repaired or marked.
The hotel is the party most likely to be named as a defendant. Other parties may also be responsible for contributing to the accident, depending on the facts of your case, such as the following:
- Another hotel guest;
- Hotel employee;
- Interior decorators;
- Product manufacturer;
- Construction company; or
- Safety workers or custodians.
What is Comparative Negligence?
California allows people to collect damages even if they were partly to blame for an accident. The legal term for this practice is comparative negligence. Even if a person is 99 percent at fault for an accident, they may still be able to collect 1 percent of the estimated damages.
In a jury trial, the jury determines how much fault should be assigned to the injured party. If a jury awards the plaintiff $1 million but finds the plaintiff 40 percent at fault, the damages will be reduced to $600,000.
A typical example of comparative negligence in a slip-and-fall case is if someone slips on a wet floor. If the hotel put out a sign warning people of the potentially slippery floor, a jury may find the plaintiff was partially at fault for ignoring the sign.
Where comparative negligence can get complicated is in determining each party's fault. How easily someone could see the wet floor sign, where it was placed compared to where the floor was potentially slippery: all of these details factor into determining comparative negligence.
Comparative negligence is one more way in which evidence plays an important role. For example, a hotel says they put a wet floor sign down in a lobby, but you say you did not see it, leading to slipping and injuring your ankle.
If video footage shows you were unlikely to see the sign due to its location, your fault will be less than if multiple signs were placed in hard-to-miss spots.
The location of the accident also matters. If you were in a restricted area when the accident occurred, while the hotel may be somewhat liable, a jury will likely reduce the award because you shouldn't have been in that area.
What Damages Can You Claim?
The litigation process typically involves discovery, which is the exchange of information between the parties involved in the lawsuit, pre-trial motions, and, eventually, a trial.
The majority of slip-and-fall cases settle and do not go to trial. The injured party most often receives compensatory damages.
Compensatory damages include medical expenses, payment for lost wages, or even future wages if the injury will affect your ability to work.
If a case goes to trial and a hotel's actions are malicious or beyond ordinary negligence, a jury may also award punitive damages. These damages are a form of punishment and are above and beyond compensatory damages.
Slip and fall accidents can cause long-term, lingering injuries. They can also lead to expensive medical bills or reduced ability to work. If an accident occurs due to a hotel failing to offer safe premises to their guests, a lawsuit is one way to ensure you are not solely responsible for medical bills or lost wages.
Contact our law firm for a free case consultation. Injury Justice Law firm has offices in Los Angeles, CA.