Owners and occupiers of establishments are responsible for ensuring their premises are reasonably safe and secure from foreseeable dangers. This month, we are discussing hotels, where guests (and even staff) can be especially vulnerable to dangerous people or conditions on the property. Indeed, these establishments encourage their guests to let their guard down, so they feel at home. But if a hotel fails to follow procedures or take measures to secure the property against foreseeable threats, the comfort of a hotel can create a false sense of safety – and, therefore, the criminal victimization of guests.
Beasley Allen premises liability and negligent security lawyers have investigated several cases where hotels were negligent in their security measures for failing to protect guests from foreseeable harm. While each hotel is different, we have found some common measures every establishment of this kind should take to ensure its guests are safe.
First, hotel management should be aware of the criminal history of the property and the surrounding area. Guests who do not live in the city where the hotel is located will likely not be aware of the potential dangers, such as crime occurring in the property’s parking lot or surrounding neighborhoods. These dangers include carjackings, muggings, sexual assaults, shootings, and even kidnappings. Hotels located in areas that put guests at risk of criminal victimization should consider protections such as proper fencing, access control, lighting, and an onsite security guard.
Hotels should also have solid policies and procedures in place to regulate their operations. Staff must be trained, and management must ensure the whole team follows procedures. Hotel management must also take special care when hiring and retaining hotel staff to ensure they do not have a violent history, including domestic violence or sexual misconduct, in their past. Moreover, staff without a criminal record who show threatening, unpredictable, potentially violent, or disturbing behavior must be identified and removed from the property as soon as possible.
Guests themselves may also pose a threat to staff or other guests. And while hotels can perform a criminal background check on a guest before their stay, most do not. Thus, hotels should always be vigilant to maintain control and security over the common areas and the security of guest rooms. Common areas should be well-lit and properly supervised by hotel management. Exterior hotel and guest room doors (including their locks) should be checked frequently to ensure they are in good working order. And hotel staff should act promptly to remove individuals demonstrating potentially dangerous behavior.
Then there is the human trafficking aspect of the hotel industry. All hotels face a growing human trafficking threat. For example, Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia, are major hubs for human trafficking. Hotels must train their staff to act quickly if they see signs of human trafficking. Hotels that turn a blind eye to these warning signs can soon become a haven for human trafficking.
Beyond the security of the property, premises safety is also very important. Drownings are not uncommon at pools, and as a result, pool safety is extremely important. Electrocutions also happen from time to time due to poor or faulty wiring or because of poor maintenance. Finally, fires can be especially catastrophic given the compact and dense nature of a hotel’s layout. For this reason, hotel staff should always be on the lookout for potential fire hazards, whether caused by the structure itself or by the conduct of other staff or guests.
Negligent Security and Premises Liability Lawyers
Parker Miller in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office leads our team of premises liability lawyers. If you or a loved one was seriously injured due to a criminal act, or if you have any questions about premises liability law, please contact us. We live by the motto “helping those who need help the most” and have helped thousands of clients who were injured or suffered other losses through no fault of their own.
Beasley Allen’s dedicated team of premises liability lawyers has the experience and the resources to get you the compensation you deserve.
Let us put our resources to work for you. If you are an attorney, we can competently and conscientiously assist you in handling any group of cases, no matter how large.