Hospitality Negligence ( A Hotel’s Duty Of Care To Its Guests/Customers) Part 1

Deborah Warrie

Deborah Warrie

Like all businesses, hotels must provide guests with a safe environment in order to avoid injury. This includes making sure that employees are not negligent or careless when dealing with guests and ensuring the safety of their customers.

What is hospitality negligence? It’s a hotel’s  lack of reasonable care to ensure the safety of its guests. An injured party does not have to prove that you knew about an unsafe condition if she can prove you did not exercise reasonable care in preventing the problem. A duty of care is the legal responsibility of a person or organization to avoid any behaviors or omissions that could reasonably be foreseen to cause harm to others.

When does a duty of care arise?

Actually a duty of care has its origin in the concept of foresee-ability. This principle was first enunciated in Donoghue v. Stevenson (1932) AC 562 at 581 in approving the judgment of the Court in Heaven v. Pender (supra) and Le Lievre v. Gould (1893) 1 QB 491 at 497. Lord Atkin said:

“The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes a law, you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer’s question, who is my neighbour receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who then in law is my neighbour? The answer seems to be – persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.”

The above, is the compass of the Hotel’s duty to exercise reasonable care in operating. A hotel guest, considered an “invitee” under premises liability law, is legally entitled to a high amount of protection.

Now, what are the legal obligations of a Hotel to its guests.

A hotel is required to inspect the grounds and keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. If a dangerous condition is identified, they must take steps to correct the problem or at least to protect guests from injury. For example, if a pipe is leaking into a hallway and it cannot be repaired quickly, the hotel must post a sign warning guests that there may be water on the floor. A hotel must follow applicable codes, provide adequate lighting and keep steps unobstructed. This means steps should be dry, clear of debris, ice and other objects that could cause tripping. A hotel must inspect the hotel grounds and maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. This duty includes quickly repairing dangerous conditions and taking affirmative steps to protect guests from known or reasonable conditions. The next edition of this article will walk you through the remaining duties, and other elements you need.

 

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