Hotel Slip & Fall Accidents
You and your family are on vacation in Chicago. Maybe you drove up from elsewhere in the state or flew in from another part of the country to enjoy some outdoor recreation on Lake Michigan, or to visit one of the city’s many museums and cultural attractions. You book a room in a nice hotel that got good customer reviews online, and check in for your stay.
After a day of fun, you come back to relax for the evening. Your family settles in with a movie or TV show. You decide to go get some ice or some snacks from a vending machine, and discover you have to go down to the next floor. As you’re walking down the steps, you trip on a torn piece of carpet that you don’t see. You fall down the stairs and feel pain pretty much everywhere when you land. As it turns out, you’ve broken a bone in the fall, injured your back, and suffered some sprains and strains. You spend days in the hospital and then go home, where you spend weeks in pain while you recover.
Your vacation was ruined, and now you’re getting bills for your hospital stay, orthopedic surgery to fix your broken bone, physical therapy, x-rays, and visits to your family doctor for follow-ups at home. You also lost time from work because of the fracture, and your life has pretty much been thrown into chaos.
As one of the largest cities in the United States, Chicago is a major tourist destination with many hotels and motels serving the many people who travel to the city to enjoy the sights and culture the city has to offer. Hotels also are a frequent site for conferences, banquets, conventions, and other special events that bring in local residents and people from out of town.
Duties of a Hotel or Motel Owner
Hotels and motels have an obligation to keep their premises safe for visitors. If they know about dangerous conditions on their premises and fail to correct the problem or warn guests about the hazard, then they may be guilty of negligence.
The Illinois law known as the Premises Liability Act, 740 ILCS 130, says that the property owner or occupier — which could be a corporation leasing the premises, or a property management firm in charge of maintaining the premises — has a duty of reasonable care to people who visit the property. That basically means they should act reasonably. If the hotel owner or operator knows that the carpet is torn on the stairs and might cause someone to trip and fall, and fails to fix the problem or warn people about the problem by posting a notice or sign, that could be considered unreasonable.
If you’ve been injured by slipping, tripping, or falling on the premises of a hotel or motel because of the negligence of the owner or operator, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. If you can demonstrate that the hotel or motel should have known about the hazard, such as the torn carpet, and either fixed it or warned you about it, you may be able to recover payment of your medical costs, lost wages, disfigurement or disability, pain and suffering, and loss of normal life.
Exceptions to the Rule
There are some circumstances when the hotel or motel won’t be liable for the circumstances that caused you to slip, trip, or fall. Under the Premises Liability Act those include:
- Hazards that are known to you
- Hazards that are open and obvious
- Hazards you can be reasonably expected to have discovered
- Hidden hazards the property owner or occupier didn’t know about and isn’t reasonably expected to have foreseen
- Hazards created by your misuse of the property
If any of these apply, the hotel owner or its insurance company likely will deny your claim.
How a Lawyer Can Help
If you were injured by slipping, tripping, or falling at a hotel or motel, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine whether you might have a claim. A Chicago personal injury attorney with a solid knowledge of premises liability law can investigate and evaluate the circumstances of your accident, gather evidence, represent you in settlement negotiations, and file and try a lawsuit if that becomes necessary.