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Negligent Security in Hotels & Nightclubs

It’s an unfortunate fact that hotels, bars, and nightclubs in Chicago sometimes can be magnets for crime. Travelers staying at hotels can become victims of thieves looking for valuables, or even violent crimes such as assault or rape. Assaults are all too common at bars and nightclubs where the use of alcohol or even illicit drugs might cause patrons’ tempers to flare and violence to ensue from relatively minor slights, such as accidentally bumping someone on the dance floor.

If you’ve been the victim of a violent crime at a hotel or nightclub, you may have suffered serious physical and psychological trauma. Violent crimes can leave a person scarred for life, both literally and emotionally. You may have had to spend time in a hospital for your physical injuries, lost time from work because of your injuries or the fear and anxiety you’re experiencing in the wake of the crime, or been disfigured such as by a brutal assault or a stabbing.

You’re likely focused on the criminal investigation and prosecution in the aftermath of the crime, and hoping the system will justly punish the person who harmed you. What you may not know is that you also may have recourse in civil courts against the owner or operator of the hotel or nightclub where the crime happened if you can prove that their negligence in providing security on the premises allowed the crime to happen.

A Chicago personal injury attorney with experience handling negligent security claims can analyze the circumstances in which you were injured and determine whether you might have a negligent security claim against the hotel, motel, bar, tavern, or nightclub. If you’re successful with a negligent security claim, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering, disfigurement and disability, lost wages, and loss of normal life.

Liability for Crimes on Hotel or Nightclub Premises

It’s a principle of premises liability law that the owners of establishments such as hotels, motels, bars, taverns, and nightclubs should take reasonable steps to keep their patrons and employees safe from the kind of crime that often can be associated with these types of businesses. When the owner or operator of a hotel or nightclub fails to provide reasonable security and you become the victim of a violent crime, the owner or operator may be responsible for compensation of your medical bills and other damages.

For the owner or operator to be liable for your injuries, there are a couple of things you’ll have to prove:

  • The owner or operator was negligent in providing adequate security
  • The crime was reasonably foreseeable

Inadequate security could take a number of forms. Some common conditions that can give rise to negligent security claims include:

  • Broken or defective locks
  • Lack of surveillance cameras in hallways, garages, parking lots, or other public areas
  • Inadequate or broken lighting
  • Insufficient number of security personnel on the premises
  • Failure to perform background checks on employees or to adequately train employees in security procedures
  • Failure to remove guests or patrons who have had too much to drink or are showing signs of violent behavior

Whether a crime was reasonably foreseeable will depend upon a number of factors such as the location of the establishment, the history of crime in the neighborhood, and the history of crime on the actual premises. If there is a history of crime, the type of crime also matters. For example, prior incidences of cleaning staff stealing valuable from suitcases in hotel rooms probably isn’t enough for a hotel owner or operator to have reasonably foreseen that a guest would be beaten by a patron in the hotel bar.