South Carolina Hotel Injury Attorney
Seeking justice and compensation for hotel guests injured in Columbia, South Carolina
When most people stay at a hotel, they typically envision themselves having a restful stay and enjoying the hotel amenities. Although hotels are generally designed for fun and relaxation, there may also be hazards present that put guests at risk of injury.
Hotels have a legal obligation to provide a safe and secure environment for their guests. This includes taking reasonable steps to prevent accidents and injuries that may occur on hotel property. Unfortunately, serious injuries are all too common, and in some cases, they can even be fatal.
Swimming pools pose a particularly high risk to inexperienced swimmers, especially when hotels don’t have a lifeguard on duty. Limbs and other body parts can also become entrapped when proper drain covers aren’t installed or maintained. Other common causes of hotel injuries include slip-and-fall accidents, violence from guests or staff, fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
It’s important for hotel guests to be aware of these potential risks and take steps to protect themselves while staying at a hotel. This may include being cautious when using hotel amenities, such as swimming pools, elevators and stairwells, and following any safety guidelines or instructions provided by the hotel.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a hotel accident, it may be advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine whether you have a legal claim for damages.
Duties owed to hotel guests
Paying hotel guests are parties in a legal contract with the company that owns the property where they’re staying. This means that hotels and their staff owe a duty of care to their guests, which entails taking reasonable steps to ensure their safety and well-being during their stay.
Therefore, guests generally have a legal right to expect the following:
- A safe environment. Hotels should maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition, free from hazards that could pose a risk to guests’ safety. This involves performing regular inspections and maintenance and addressing potential dangers promptly, such as repairing faulty equipment, ensuring proper lighting, and securing staircases and walkways.
- Adequate security measures. Hotels have a responsibility to implement appropriate security measures to protect guests from harm. This may include having surveillance systems, well-trained staff and controlled access to the premises. Adequate precautions should be taken to prevent unauthorized entry, theft, assault or other criminal activities.
- Proper maintenance of facilities. Hotels should ensure that their facilities, including rooms, common areas and amenities, are properly maintained and in good working order. This includes maintaining cleanliness, providing functional plumbing and electrical systems, and regularly inspecting and servicing equipment like elevators, swimming pools, and fire and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Warning about known risks. If there are known risks or hazards on the premises that may not be obvious to guests, hotels should provide appropriate warnings. This could include informing guests about potential dangers such as construction areas, slippery surfaces or other temporary hazards.
- Adequate staffing and training. Hotels should employ an adequate number of staff members who are properly trained to handle guest needs and emergencies. This includes training in first aid and emergency response procedures.
Because hotels owe a legal duty to their customers, they’re also responsible for compensating a customer who is injured in an accident caused by a breach of the hotel’s duty.
In the news:
Child drowns in South Carolina hotel pool
In November 2022, the Beaufort Police Department reported that a 2-year-old was found at the bottom of a pool at Country Inn and Suites. The victim’s five-year-old sister was also found wandering around the property alone.
Approximately 30 minutes later, law enforcement located the children’s mother and an infant in a guest room on the property. The infant and the five-year-old were placed in the custody of social services while the case remains under investigation.
Violent attack ends in death at New Orleans hotel
In December 2022, a 73-year-old hotel guest in New Orleans was beaten to death while his wife hid in the bathroom. A 29-year-old man, who was not a guest at the hotel, was later arrested for the incident and charged with 1 count of second-degree murder.
He apparently gained access to their room after a fire alarm was sounded and the wife of the victim opened the door of her room to investigate. A motive has yet to be established.
How to prove negligence after a hotel injury
While there are many potential reasons to sue a hotel after an injury, to get compensation, you must first establish negligence. In a personal injury or premises liability case, proving negligence involves establishing that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (injured party) and failed to fulfill that duty, resulting in harm or injury.
To prove negligence, you must establish that the following 4 elements are true:
- Duty of care. The plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed them a duty of care. This duty is often determined by the relationship between the parties or the circumstances of the case. For example, hotel owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition for guests.
- Breach of duty. The plaintiff must show that the defendant breached their duty of care by failing to meet the expected standard of behavior. This involves demonstrating that the defendant’s actions or omissions fell below what a reasonable person or entity would have done in similar circumstances.
- Causation. The plaintiff must establish a causal connection between the defendant’s breach of duty and the injuries or harm suffered. This means showing that the defendant’s actions or negligence directly caused or substantially contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Damages. The plaintiff must provide evidence of actual damages resulting from the defendant’s breach of duty, such as medical expenses, property damage or lost wages.
Proving negligence often requires gathering and presenting evidence such as witness testimony, expert opinions, documents, photographs and other relevant information. Each case is unique, and the specific elements and burden of proof may vary based on jurisdiction and the nature of the claim.
It’s crucial to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney who can evaluate the facts of the case, assess the duty of care owed, gather evidence, and present a strong legal argument to establish negligence and pursue appropriate compensation for the injuries or losses suffered.
Types of compensation available through a personal injury lawsuit
Accident victims can generally receive compensation by filing a claim against the property in civil court. In a personal injury lawsuit, various types of damages may be sought to compensate the injured party for their losses. These damages can be categorized into the following types.
These are tangible, measurable losses that have a direct financial impact. They include the following:
- Medical expenses. Costs associated with medical treatment, surgeries, hospital stays, medications, rehabilitation and ongoing care
- Lost wages. Compensation for income lost due to the injury, including past and future earnings
- Property damage. Reimbursement for the repair or replacement of damaged property (if any)
- Other financial losses. Compensation for other out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the injury, such as transportation costs, home modifications or assistive devices
These are intangible losses that do not have a specific monetary value. They include the following:
- Pain and suffering. Compensation for any physical pain and discomfort caused by the injury
- Emotional distress. Damages awarded for psychological trauma, anxiety, depression and other mental anguish resulting from the injury
- Loss of enjoyment of life. Compensation for the loss of the ability to enjoy or engage in activities or hobbies that were previously enjoyed
- Loss of consortium. Damages awarded to a spouse or family member for the loss of companionship, support or intimate connection due to the injury
If a hotel accident results in a wrongful death, the victim’s surviving dependents may also receive compensation for funeral expenses, lost economic support, loss of parental guidance, and loss of consortium.
Punitive damages may be granted in specific cases involving severe misconduct or deliberate harm, aiming to penalize the defendant and discourage similar actions in the future. However, punitive damages are rare in personal injury lawsuits.
Benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney for a hotel accident case
Guests who are injured at a Columbia hotel are highly encouraged to contact a skilled premises liability attorney. An attorney will first conduct an interview to evaluate the facts of your case. Next, the attorney will advise you of your available legal options. If you decide to work with the attorney, the next step would involve devising and executing a legal strategy to get compensation for your injury.
Although many people imagine attorneys going to court and representing their clients, personal injury lawyers typically represent accident victims throughout the personal injury claim process and often negotiate a settlement outside of court. If the parties are unable to reach a favorable settlement at the pretrial stage, the attorney will then represent the accident victim in formal court proceedings.
Personal injury lawyers possess a unique understanding of the civil court process. They have a combination of legal knowledge and professional experience to fight against the tactics employed by corporate lawyers and insurance companies to prove negligence and win your case.
Contact an experienced Columbia personal injury attorney
Hotels and their insurance companies generally weigh their business interests when determining how much compensation to offer accident victims. Accident victims need an attorney by their side who can advocate on their behalf and help them recover the compensation they need and deserve.
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience representing hotel accident victims in Columbia and surrounding areas. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to give you the help and information you need to get back on the road to physical and financial recovery.
Contact us today to see how we can help you get maximum compensation for your claim.