Motel room door broke my vertebrae...

by Anonymous
(Brooklyn, NY)

I have been living in a motel in Brooklyn, NY for over a year with my wife. The entry door to my room is quite heavy and slams closed. The motel hallway has windows that bring a strong breeze and the door slams faster. The bathroom is to the right or the door.

My wife was entering the room as I exited the bathroom, and the door struck me in the lower back. As a result, I fractured a vertebrae. Do I have a case against the motel? Is there any way to get assistance paying my medical bills? Thank you for any information you can provide.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Motel room door broke my vertebrae... ":

Anonymous (Brooklyn, NY):

Hotel owners in New York, and in other states are bound by Premises Liability law. To get a better understanding of who's liable, read this article on the duties of property owners and visitors.

Premises liability laws impose a legal duty of care requiring hotel owners to do everything within reason to protect guests and other persons legally upon the property from dangerous conditions, which may cause undue harm or injuries.

When a hotel owner fails in that duty, and a person legally upon the property is injured, the owner may become liable for the injured person's medical bills and related damages. Damages are unique to every injury and to every person. In premises liability claims, damages can include medical bills, related out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

While hotel owners have a legal duty of care toward their guests, that duty is not absolute. In other words, if a guest knows a dangerous condition exists, and with that knowledge ignores the condition which is likely to cause an injury, the hotel owner may escape liability if the guest is injured.

You were living in the motel room for over a year. During that time you became aware strong breezes caused the entry door to slam closed.

When a hotel guest knows a dangerous condition exists, the guest has a duty to take reasonable action to "mitigate" the circumstances under which he or she may become injured. But the duty to mitigate is limited. In your case, your duty to mitigate did not include your hiring a contractor to remove the door and replace it with one which didn't slam.

However, it's arguable your duty to mitigate would have been to purchase an inexpensive door stopper, or even a spring to stop the door from slamming. While it is arguable these actions should have already been taken by a landlord, in the interim it would not have been unreasonable for you to mitigate the danger by simply purchasing a door stopper or spring.

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,

Judge Calisi

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