Can I Sue a Hotel for Negligent Security?

If you get hurt because a hotel failed to prevent foreseeable assaults or attacks or did not take reasonable measures to keep you safe while you were on their premises, the property owner can be liable. Georgia law dictates that landowners are liable to people who sustain injuries as a result of the failure to provide adequate security.

The Elements of Negligent Security

We have to prove all four of these factors to hold a hotel responsible for your injuries from negligent security:

  1. The hotel (defendant) owed you (plaintiff) a legal duty of care. If you were present on the premises for a lawful purpose as a hotel guest, visitor, vendor, employee, or for another allowed reason, the hotel owner has to take measures to keep the hotel and approaches (sidewalks, entryways, parking garages, parking lots, and other approaches) reasonably safe. The hotel has no such duty toward trespassers. Suppose that the hotel is in a downtown area known for random muggings. The hotel must provide reasonable security so that the guests can safely enter and leave the hotel and be free from assaults while in the hotel, parking garage, and parking lot.
  2. The defendant hotel failed in its legal duty toward you. If the hotel did not provide adequate security for the circumstances, it breached its duty toward you. Breach of a legal duty is negligence. If the hotel failed, for example, to install security cameras in high-risk areas in and around the hotel or failed to have working locks on the hotel guest room doors, the hotel is guilty of negligent security.
  3. The hotel’s negligent security caused harm to you. Mere negligence without harm does not make a case for compensation, but if the hotel’s failure to provide adequate security resulted in harm to you, the hotel is liable. Let’s say that the hotel knew that its guest room doors did not lock, despite exhibiting red or green lights when a person used a key card. The hotel decided to wait to buy and install new door locks. In the meantime, an intruder entered a guest room and assaulted someone staying in the hotel. The hotel’s negligence caused the harm, satisfying the causation element of negligent security.
  4. Adequate security would have prevented the crime. Georgia law does not charge property owners with preventing every crime on their premises. Some crime is not preventable. If adequate security would have prevented the harm to the plaintiff, the hotel is liable.

            Having functioning door locks on the guest rooms would have prevented the intruder from being able to walk right into the room and assault the guest. Working door locks are reasonable security measures at a hotel. Since appropriate security would have prevented the crime, the hotel is liable.

Examples of Negligent Security at a Hotel

The facts of each case are different, but general principles can apply in many situations at hotels. A hotel can be liable to people who suffered harm as a result of criminal activity if the hotel failed to:

  • Install security cameras after criminal activity
  • Provide and maintain bright lighting in and around the hotel and approaches
  • Repair broken or damaged security equipment and doors, locks, fences, gates, and alarms
  • Warn people of foreseeable dangers
  • Upgrade existing security (like hiring security guards) after criminal activity
  • Respond appropriately to any facts that would give a reasonable person concern about safety

Foreseeability Determines What Security Measures Are Adequate

Every negligent security case is unique because every situation varies. Measures that might be more than adequate at one hotel could be insufficient at another. We cannot say without talking to you about the facts of your incident whether the hotel provided sufficient security. The law will require the hotel to provide the level of protection that is reasonable and adequate for the circumstances.

A hotel in an upscale resort community with almost no violent crime may only need to provide bright lighting and some security cameras to protect patrons from harm. Another hotel in the same hospitality chain might need several security guards, exterior doors that only open with a room key, many more security cameras, and a security professional constantly monitoring the live feed from the security cameras.

How to Get Legal Help for an Injury from Negligent Security at a Hotel

If you got hurt because a hotel failed to keep you safe, the company might have to pay you money for the harm you suffered. Do not worry – you do not have to figure out who is liable or wade through the legal issues. A premises law attorney can assist you.

We will be happy to explain your right to compensation and answer your questions. Just call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838 to line up your free, no-obligation consultation.