Is failure to act in a reasonable manner enough to prove negligence?
John was an invited V.I.P. guest at a Las Vegas Hotel. They even telephoned him making sure he would come and be a contestant in their slot tournament. He checked in, went to his room, had a stroke & didn't show for the tournament. He was found wandering the halls, locked out of his room, delirious, dehydrated, drooling, and dropping money and his wallet, which was found by the security guards.
The guards checked his I.D. and let him back into his room. They must not have been trained to recognize the common signs of a stroke. John called me in Califoria at 10:30pm. He said he was quite sick and wants to come home, but he knows he could never make the drive.
I decided to get on the next plane. This was 11pm, the next flight wasn't until 6am. So I made a call to the front desk. I gave them his room # & we confirmed he was a registered V.I.P. I said, "John just called me from his room and says he's very sick and needs help. I can't get there for six hours. I need you to send a nurse, Dr. or anyone up to his room and check on his status."
Without seeing him I didn't know how severe his sickness was. He was slurring his words so he was hard to understand. They never called back. I called them again & they told me everything was o.k.
When I got there at 7:30am the next morning, I took one look at John and called the operator and asked for an ambulance. The paramedics were upset. They said, "How long has he been like this? He should've seen a Dr. immediately." They took him to the ER and the trauma Dr. asked the same thing.
The 8 to 9 hour delay on receiving medical attention for a stroke = permanent brain damage that is irreversible. I believe the hotel did not act in a reasonable manner to ensure safety for their guest. They were made aware of a possible medical emergency and didn't send qualified people or call for help.
The doctors tell us that if John had been seen by a doctor within a three or four hour window, his brain damage would be treatable. But because no one called help for him, it is permanent. What can we do? Do we have a valid case against the hotel? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Is failure to act in a reasonable manner enough to prove negligence?":
Wendy (Norco, CA):
The Las Vegas hotel's failure to send medical assistance to John was unconscionable. From the facts you present, John may have the basis of a personal injury claim against the hotel. We say "may have" because there are mitigating factors the hotel will rely on to relieve themselves of liability.
The hotel will argue it did not have a legal duty of care to provide medical assistance to John. A hotel's legal duty of care is to do everything reasonably possible to assure their guests are safe from undue harm and injury. Whether or not this legal duty extends to calling for medical assistance is arguable.
The hotel will very likely take the position they are not obligated to call for medical assistance every time a guest, family member, or friend calls the front desk and says he or she is ill. Further, the hotel will say inasmuch as John was able to call you asking to come home, he could have just as easily dialed 911 and asked for medical assistance.
The hotel will also take the position you were the first person to recognize John was seriously ill. At that point, the hotel will argue it was your duty, and not theirs, to call Las Vegas Fire and Rescue. Instead you called the front desk of the hotel and relied on the employees to contact Fire and Rescue, knowing the employees at the front desk were likely busy attending to guests.
Add to the mix, if John had been drinking that night, or was intoxicated at or about the time he fell ill, the hotel will argue he contributed to his own injury.
That's the bad news. The good news is the hotel's position is tenuous. It's arguable the hotel's legal duty of care extended to contacting Las Vegas Fire and Rescue or sending a doctor, nurse, qualified medical technician, or even a security guard up to John's room to do a "welfare check."
This wouldn't have taken more than a few minutes. At that point whoever the hotel sent up to the room would have quickly recognized John needed medical assistance. They quite obviously failed to do so.
Because of the seriousness of John's injury, and the argument the hotel breached its legal duty of care in not doing a welfare check on John, or seeking medical assistance for him, John may have a very viable personal injury claim against the hotel. To have any success, John or his authorized representative will have to retain a personal injury attorney.
Here's how to choose the best injury attorney for your case. There are many personal injury attorneys in the Las Vegas area who have had great success in suing hotels.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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