Can You Sue a Hotel for Negligent Security?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2023 | Negligent Security

Hotel stays are meant to be relaxing and carefree. When you check into your room, you expect to be safe and secure throughout the duration of your stay. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Hotel guests can sometimes fall victim to crimes such as theft, assault, and other heinous acts. They also sometimes sustain injuries in accidents caused by the hotel property owner’s negligence.

It’s the responsibility of the hotel to ensure the guests and their property are safe at all times. If something happens to the guests during their stay, the hotel and its property owners can be held responsible.

In this article, we’ll explain how hotels can be held liable for not having proper security measures that lead to guests or employees meeting harm. Read on to learn more about your rights and legal options when it comes to pursuing a lawsuit against a hotel for negligent security.

Elements of Negligent Security at a Hotel

There are several elements to negligent security at a hotel, and understanding these elements will give you insight into whether the hotel is responsible for any crimes committed against you. Furthermore, this information will help you build a case against the property owners over an incident that happened during your stay.

Element 1: The Hotel Owed You a Legal Duty of Care

According to Florida law, a hotel owes a duty of care to its guests. A duty of care means that the hotel property owners have a legal responsibility to take reasonable steps in order to ensure the safety and well-being of their guests while they are on the property.

The duty of care extends to maintaining safe and clean facilities, providing adequate security, and ensuring that guests are not exposed to hazards or dangerous conditions.

If failing to meet this legal duty of care results in a guest getting injured or being a victim of a crime, the hotel may be liable for any damages.

Element 2: The Hotel Failed to Adhere to Its Duty Toward You

If the hotel property owner failed to provide adequate security measures for the circumstances, they breached their legal care of duty toward you. Therefore, it can qualify as negligence of security by the hotel.

For example, if the hotel does not place security guards or CCTV cameras in high-risk areas around the premises, it can expose the guests to several risks.

Element 3: The Hotel’s Negligent Security Caused You Harm or Exposed You to a Crime

In order to bring a case against the hotel, you must prove that negligent or inadequate security resulted in an incident that caused harm. Mere negligence in security might not be enough to sue the hotel if it has not caused any damages to the guests.

For example, if a hotel didn’t have security measures in the reception area and a guest is robbed there, it might be considered negligent security. The hotel could have installed security cameras, security guards, limited access points, and other basic security measures to deter the thief.

Element 4: Adequate Security Would’ve Reduced the Risk or Prevented the Crime

Security cameras installed in an area might reduce the crime risk, but doesn’t necessarily prevent crime altogether. To establish your claims against the hotel, you must prove that the injuries or damages you’ve suffered could have been prevented if certain security measures were present.

For instance, having security guards posted at the lobby doors can deter criminals and offer better protection to the guests.

Establishing these four elements is essential to show that the hotel is liable for your injuries or damages. To prove that these four elements exist, you should turn to professional negligent security lawyers that can gather evidence and negotiate with the hotel on your behalf to recover compensation.

Call us at 305-376-7860 to schedule a free case consultation and let the attorneys at Kaire & Heffernan help you prove your negligent security claim against the hotel.

Examples of Negligent Security at Hotels

Negligence in hotel security isn’t limited to a lack of security cameras or guards. There are several types of security negligence, each having unique damages that the victim might suffer.

Below we have explained each type in detail so you can understand what the hotel is liable for and what mistakes lead to negligence in security. Knowing about these types will help you determine if you can sue the hotel to recover compensation for the damages or injuries you’ve sustained.

Inadequate Lighting and Other Environmental Issues

The hotel owes their guests a duty of care so the property owners are responsible for providing appropriate lighting in parking areas, stairwells, hallways, and other key areas in order to prevent crimes. This duty also includes keeping the areas clean, safe, and well-maintained in order to prevent accidents. If a hotel fails to do these things and, as a result, a guest or employee is harmed, the hotel property owner can be held liable in a negligent security case.

For example, if your car gets stolen from hotel parking because inadequate lighting allowed a thief to enter the property undetected, the hotel has breached its duty of care and is responsible for the loss of property.

✍️ Note:

A few factors here can affect the entire scenario, like a sudden power outage that resulted in the lights going out and the thief having the opportunity to steal the car. The hotel might not be liable for the damages in such cases.

Similarly, if unforeseen and unavoidable environmental issues, such as a hurricane or flood, damage your property during your hotel stay, Florida premises liability law may not hold the hotel responsible.

You should consult professional negligent security lawyers in Miami to learn more about when the hotel is responsible for the damages you’ve incurred. Call Kaire & Heffernan at 305-376-7860 or contact us online.

Untrained and Unprofessional Hotel Security Staff

It is the hotel’s duty to properly vet and train its security personnel, as well as supervise them on the job to ensure they are performing their duties in a manner that keeps guests and employees safe.

If a hotel hires security personnel who have a history of criminal activity or violent behavior and the staff member causes harm while on the job, the hotel may be held liable for negligent hiring practices.

Likewise, if a hotel hires untrained and unprofessional security personnel who fail to respond properly to a security threat, the property owners may be held liable for negligent supervision.

Lack of Security Measures (Security Cameras, Alarms, Fire Exits, Etc.)

In order to operate in Florida, a hotel must have adequate security measures such as CCTV or other security cameras, alarms, fire exits, locks, and more to ensure the safety of the guests and employees. However, some hotels fail to maintain these devices or don’t pay attention to the overall security measures.

During your stay, it’s the hotel’s responsibility to provide a reasonable level of security. This includes implementing basic security measures such as surveillance cameras, alarm systems, and security personnel.

If they fail to implement reasonable security measures, and you or anyone else on the premises gets harmed, the hotel may be held liable for lack of security.

Broken Locks

Broken locks on hotel room doors can be a major security concern, as they make it easier for criminals to gain access to guest rooms. It can put guests at risk of theft, assault, and other types of criminal activity.

It’s crucial for hotels to properly maintain their locks and address any issues with broken or malfunctioning locks as soon as they are identified. Failing to do so makes the hotel liable for the injuries and damages the guests suffer because of malfunctioning locks.

Failure to Respond to Emergency Situations

Every hotel should have an emergency response plan in place and train employees on how to handle different kinds of emergencies, such as a fire or criminal activity.

If a hotel fails to adequately prepare for emergencies, and the guests on the premises are injured due to the circumstances created by this failure, it is the hotel’s fault for not being able to respond to the emergency situation.

For instance, if a fire breaks out inside the hotel and the extinguishers do not work because they were not regularly maintained, it’s the hotel that is responsible for any injuries or losses.

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Dangers That Can Result From Negligent Security at a Hotel

Inappropriate measures and untrained security personnel can result in a variety of dangerous situations for both guests and employees on the hotel premises. Below we have explained some of these dangers and threats guests become vulnerable to when staying at properties that don’t take proper security measures.

We’ve also linked these dangers with different types of negligence in hotel security for a clearer explanation.

Physical Assault

According to a report published in Security Journal, the hospitality industry, especially hotels, is prone to higher levels of criminal activity. One of the most frequent crimes reported by guests is physical assault, either by an outsider or the hotel staff.

Physical assault can be a result of inadequate security measures at a hotel, such as a lack of security guards or broken locks on hotel doors. Inadequate lighting in parking areas, stairwells, and hallways also increase the risk of physical assault, making it harder for people to see and identify potential attackers.

Theft and Robberies

Negligence in security can make guests more vulnerable to theft. This includes thefts from hotel rooms or common areas.

The main reason for theft and robberies is broken or malfunctioning locks on guest room doors or the lack of surveillance in key areas of the hotel. Not having security personnel or security cameras to deter criminals can lead to robberies, making the hotel liable for the losses the guests have suffered.

Sexual Assault

Inadequate security can make guests, typically women, more vulnerable to sexual assault.  This is especially true in hotel properties that fail to provide adequate lighting in multiple areas, such as hallways, stairwells, parking areas, and more, making it difficult for the victims to identify potential threats. Negligent security can also make guests more vulnerable to sexual assault by intruders who have gained access to the hotel property due to broken locks or malfunctioning alarms.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Negligent security might create environmental hazards that can lead to injuries, such as slip and fall accidents. Failing to maintain proper lighting inside and around the hotel premises and failing to address hazardous conditions such as spilled liquids or broken floor tiles, can make the hotel liable for injuries. These hazards may result in a variety of injuries, including broken bones, sprains, and head traumas.

» More: Common Sites of Hotel and Motel Injury

Fire Hazards

The guests and employees on the hotel premises aren’t just vulnerable to dangers caused by other people; they are also vulnerable to fire hazards.

Failing to maintain and keep fire-related facilities in working order can result in a fire hazard. Terrible incidents might occur when the hotel fails to adhere to the regular fire safety inspections or if it fails to properly maintain and repair fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers, and other fire safety equipment. Property owners must also be sure to have the correct amount of fire exits and other precautions to meet fire code and safety standards.

A fire outbreak in a hotel can result in injuries or death to guests, employees, and first responders, and the law might hold the hotel responsible for it if there is enough evidence.

Psychological Distress

The emotional distress and trauma that can result from being the victim of a crime or other unsafe incident in a hotel can also have a significant negative impact on an individual’s mental health and well-being.

Besides the pain that accompanies any injuries, the victim may also experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In severe negligent security cases, victims may be unable to return to work and experience a loss of future income as a result of their trauma.

» More: Facts of Negligent Security

Are you a victim of theft or other crime due to poor security at a hotel? Let a negligent security lawyer from Kaire & Heffernan help you get justice. Call us at 305-376-7860 to set up a free consultation and speak with trusted negligent security lawyers about your case.

Steps to Take After Suffering an Incident Due to Negligent Security at a Hotel

Report the Incident to Hotel Management

Inform the hotel staff of the incident. This is an important step to take because it will create a record of the incident and establish that the hotel was aware it occurred. Make sure to get the names and contact information of the staff members you speak with, and ask for a copy of the incident report.

Seek Medical Attention

If you were injured in the incident, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Not only is this important for your physical well-being, but it will also create a record of your injuries and help to establish a link between the incident and your injuries.

Gather Evidence

Collect any physical evidence of the incident, such as taking photographs or videos of the property. Get the contact information of any witnesses in the area around at the time of the event. Evidence might be anything, including pictures of the area, medical bills for any injuries you sustained, or any other relevant information. Be sure to also keep all original documents and records, including communication from the hotel and police reports.

Inform the Local Police

If the incident is a crime, contact the local police department to file a report. This will help to establish that a crime occurred and could be important evidence in a later legal proceeding.

Hire an Attorney

Hiring an experienced attorney for a hotel negligent security case is important for a variety of reasons. Lawyers are trained professionals with a thorough understanding of the law and can provide you with guidance throughout your negligent security case.

Also, hotel security negligence attorneys in Miami can help you navigate the legal process and explore your rights and options for getting compensation.

The best time to call a negligent security lawyer is after you’ve reported the issue to the hotel authorities. Your legal team will tell you the next steps to take, such as gathering evidence and collecting medical receipts.

At Kaire and Heffernan, we have a team of expert hotel security negligence lawyers in Florida that can help you with your case. From gathering evidence and filing a negligent security claim to negotiating with the hotel and presenting your case in court, we will work diligently on your behalf.

File a Complaint With Local Authorities or Industry Associations

Finally, depending on the jurisdiction, there may be local authorities or industry associations that have oversight of hotel security and you can file a complaint with them. These organizations may have the power to investigate and take action against the hotel, and a complaint can help to establish a pattern of negligent security.

Your lawyers can educate you about the local authorities that operate in the jurisdiction where the incident occurred. You can also submit a copy of this complaint in court to prove your claims and to establish the fact that the hotel did not take the necessary measures after the incident.

Damages You Can Recover in a Miami Negligent Security Case

In a hotel negligent security case in Miami, you may be able to recover a variety of damages, depending on the specific circumstances of your case.

One thing to note here is that you’ll only be able to claim damages if you prove that you suffered due to the security breach.

Some common types of damages that may be available include:

Medical Expenses

If you sustained injuries, you may be able to recover the cost of any medical treatment you received as a result of the incident, including emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, and more.

Lost Wages

Not being able to work due to injuries or trauma from the hotel incident makes you eligible for recovering lost wages. You might also be able to recover the potential income-earning capacity loss you might suffer in the future due to the injuries.

Pain and Suffering

A professional hotel security negligence lawyer can help you recover damages for any physical or emotional pain and suffering you experienced due to the incident.

Property Damage

If any of your personal property was damaged due to the security breach at the hotel, you could claim those damages. For example, if your vehicle gets stolen or damaged while on the hotel premises, it’ll be considered property damage and you can recover the cost of repairs or replacement.

Punitive Damages

In rare cases, if the hotel’s conduct was particularly reckless or egregious, you may be able to recover punitive damages. These are intended to punish hotel property owners and deter similar conduct in the future.

Recovering punitive damages is challenging because you must prove gross negligence or intentional actions. It’s essential to file a complaint about the incident with the hotel so that you can use it as potential evidence they were aware of the issue and did not take appropriate actions.

» More: Damage Caps in Florida

The damages that you can recover from the hotel entirely depend on proving your claims and the extent of the harm you’ve suffered as an outcome. It’s essential to file a report with the right authority at the earliest opportunity to claim maximum damages.

Statute of Limitations for Negligent Security Claims in Florida

In Florida, the statute of limitations for negligent security claims is generally four years from the date of the incident. This means the victim has four years to file a negligent security lawsuit against the hotel. However, there can be exceptions to this rule. The statute of limitations might be extended for certain factors, like the age of the victim or the mental capacity of the victim.

In certain cases, the statute of limitations may be tolled, so the clock stops running and the victim has more time to file a lawsuit. For example, if the injuries due to the negligent security resulted in brain trauma, making the victim unable to file a complaint, then they’ll get more time to file a lawsuit against the hotel.

If the statute of limitations expires, then the victim must prove that the injuries prevented them from suing the hotel, which will require professional legal help.

Contact Kaire & Heffernan to Protect Your Safety and Rights

Recovering damages from a hotel can be difficult. You’ll need an effective strategy for gathering evidence, negotiating with the hotel, and moving the claim through the legal process. It is challenging to recover the fair compensation that you deserve without the help of legal counsel.

With our expert hotel security negligence lawyers by your side, you can file a lawsuit against the hotel, calculate the damages you’ve suffered, prove your claims, and recover compensation.

Kaire & Heffernan can help you protect your rights and recover damages if you have been the victim of hotel security negligence. Dial 305-376-7860 to speak to our highly qualified attorneys for a free case consultation!