Slips and falls have accounted for over 1.5 million ER visits since 2001. Although some falls may not be serious, others can have devastating and life-changing effects on the victim. Trauma can include spinal or head injuries, lacerations, broken bones, and knee injuries, depending on the circumstances and the fall’s nature.
Although most of us rightly expect our hotel or resort property to be safe and well-maintained, that isn’t always the case. It helps to be aware of some potential dangers to ensure your holiday or business trip is safe, enjoyable, and worry-free.
Common Causes of Slips and Falls
When a hotel or resort property is not subject to routine upkeep, hazards can occur. Some of the most common causes of slips and falls are:
• Dirty or uneven floors
Damaged or unkempt flooring is the leading cause of slips and falls. Slippery or dirty floors, torn or loose carpeting, and parking lots in disrepair are potential pitfalls.
• Slippery pool decks, bathtubs, and showers
Wet surfaces are another common cause of slips and falls. Once a surface becomes wet, the natural friction that generally keeps us from slipping erodes, and we’re more at risk for a fall. Pool decks constructed of inappropriate material or bathtubs and showers that aren’t slip-resistant are particularly dangerous areas in a hotel or resort.
Broken or worn steps and stairways also have the potential to cause injury. Stairways without adequate landings can pose an additional threat.
• Poor lighting
If you’re unable to see where you’re walking on a hotel or resort property, the potential for injury increases dramatically. Parking lots, garages, even hallways can be hazardous if the lighting is inadequate.
• Lack of handrails
Staircases and ramps can be dangerous without handrails or guardrails. If you do slip, a railing may be the only thing keeping you from falling and injuring yourself.
• Inclement weather
Rainy or snowy conditions can create hazardous conditions for hotel and resort guests, particularly if they have never experienced snow before. Icy walkways and surfaces become slick and are a common cause of slips and falls.
Innkeepers’ Duty of Care
While it always pays to be personally vigilant of potential hazards, regular maintenance and upkeep of a hotel or resort property is not just a reasonable expectation for guests. It’s also the law. Hotels and resorts have a legal responsibility to protect their guests from foreseeable problems.
Hotel or resort owners must regularly check parking lots, stairs, and carpeting for damage. To prevent falls, bathtubs and showers must have anti-slip surfaces. Owners are responsible for maintaining clean and spill-free flooring. If the owner or property manager cannot quickly fix a damaged area, they must clearly label it as a hazard.
Proprietors are required to carry out regular inspections of the property to ensure the reasonable care of their guests. Failure to do so could constitute negligence and premises liability.
The Take-home Message
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to prepare for every eventuality. However, a general awareness of your surroundings and potential dangers can significantly increase the chances that your vacation or business trip is accident-free.
If you or a loved one sustained an unnecessary injury while staying at a hotel or resort, you might be entitled to receive financial compensation. The statute of limitations in Louisiana for a slip, trip, or fall accident is one year from the injury date.
La.RS 9:2800.6, the Merchant Liability Statute can be challenging to litigate, and to win a case, you must prove the following:
• The innkeeper failed to provide reasonable care
• The condition presented foreseeable and unreasonable harm
• The innkeeper had constructive notice of the condition which caused the damage
Even if you believe you are partially at fault for your injury, you may be entitled to compensation under comparative negligence, where the amount of compensation you receive is reduced in accordance with your share of the fault.
The seasoned team of trial attorneys at Lamothe Law Firm can ensure you meet your filing deadlines and get the compensation you deserve in a slip and fall accident. Contact our law office to schedule a free consultation.