The steps you take right after an assault at a hotel can have an impact on the amount of compensation you receive for your injury claim.
The First Four Things to Do After an Assault at a Hotel
The actual steps you should take will depend upon the unique facts of your situation. You should always put your safety first. Here are some suggestions of steps people can take after being the victim of an assault at a hotel:
- Call 911. An assault is a criminal act. You should notify law enforcement immediately so that they can try to catch the perpetrator. The more time that passes before the police know about the attack, the lower the odds of their apprehending the criminal. Also, the police report will serve as valuable evidence of the cause of your injuries.
- Get medical attention. As the victim of a criminal act, you should not try to tough it out or see how long you can go before going to the doctor. Because of the adrenaline of the moment, you might not be perceiving pain. Some injuries do not always have immediate symptoms. The medical records will be essential evidence of the assault, which can help the prosecutor and bolster your claim for compensation in a civil action.
- Notify the hotel. If you do not notify the hotel or if you wait for a significant amount of time before putting them on notice of the attack, the hotel’s insurance company might deny that the event ever happened. Letting the hotel know about the assault lends credibility to your injury claim.
- Talk to a personal injury lawyer. Although the law does not require you to have an assault attorney handle your injury claim, it can be a good idea to have a lawyer on board in these complicated cases. Pursuing compensation for your losses as a crime victim involves different issues than what one encounters in a typical personal injury case, such as a minor fender bender. In assault cases, you will be dealing with investigators, prosecutors, and insurance adjusters.
You Can Sue for Your Losses from an Assault at a Hotel
An assault can be both a crime and a tort. A tort is a civil wrong, as opposed to a criminal wrong. If the police find the attacker and press criminal charges, that fact does not prevent you from suing in civil court for your damages. Depending on the facts of your case, you might be able to sue both the criminal and the hotel.
Suing a Hotel After an Assault
If carelessness on the part of the hotel contributed to the attack, you might be able to recover compensation from the hotel. Here are two of the more common legal grounds for suing a hotel after an assault:
We will have to prove all of these elements of negligence to hold the hotel responsible for the assault:
- Legal duty of care. The hotel has a duty to use reasonable measures to keep its guests and foreseeable visitors safe. For example, the hotel must perform adequate background checks on its employees.
- Breach of the duty of care. It is negligence if the hotel violates its duty of care. Let's say that the hotel failed to perform background checks on some job applicants. One of the employees they hired had a long criminal record of assaults and other physical attacks. The hotel was negligent for failing to perform background checks on job applicants that would have uncovered that the job-seeker would be a risk to the safety of hotel guests.
- Causation. The employee used a passkey to enter a hotel room and assaulted a guest. The employee would not have had this access to the victim but for the hotel's negligence in failing to perform an adequate background check. Therefore, the hotel's negligence caused or contributed to the assault.
- Measurable harm. The victim suffered multiple physical injuries from the attack. Physical injuries satisfy the requirement of measurable harm for purposes of liability. The hotel is liable for the victim’s injuries.
A hotel can be responsible for injuries that were the result of negligent security. We will have to prove all four of these factors to hold the hotel responsible under the legal theory of negligent security:
- The hotel owed the victim a duty of care. As long as the assault victim was present at the hotel as a guest, employee, vendor, or for some other lawful purpose, the hotel had to take reasonable measures to keep the hotel and its approaches, such as sidewalks, entryways, and parking lots safe. For purposes of this example, let's assume that the victim was a hotel employee.
- The defendant hotel failed in its legal duty toward the assault victim. Breaching a legal duty is negligence. If the hotel was in an area with a history of assaults or other violent crimes, the hotel had a duty to provide adequate security for the circumstances. If there had been many attacks in the hotel parking lot, but the hotel did nothing to increase the safety, such as installing security cameras and increasing security guard patrols to the area, the hotel is negligent.
- The hotel’s negligent security caused harm to the victim. If, under these circumstances, someone attacked an employee in the hotel parking lot, the hotel's negligent security caused the harm to the employee.
- Adequate security would have prevented the crime. Since the crime was foreseeable and adequate security measures would have prevented the assault, the hotel is liable because of its negligent security.
If you suffered an injury because of an assault at a hotel, you can contact S. Burke Law for help. Call us today at 404-842-7838 to get a free consultation.