Visitor Question

Does my slip and fall injury case involving a third party have merit?

Submitted By: Myrna (Tucson, Arizona)

I was on vacation. Wearing flip-flops, I was walking in the lobby of the hotel when another guest dropped and spilled a water bottle on the exact spot I was walking, at the exact time I was there. I slipped, fell and hurt my right elbow on the concrete floor. The hotel called an ambulance which took me to the Emergency Room.

I was diagnosed with a contusion, asked to wear a sling, treated with pain killers and antibiotics, and put in a wheel chair. I spent the night and next day nauseated, constantly vomiting and with severe stomach pains. Instead of enjoying my vacation, I was a total wreck in a hotel room. My right elbow was bruised and in severe pain.

I incurred the following unexpected expenses due to the incident:

  1. One-way return airplane ticket home – (Note: I carpooled with friends coming to this place and had planned on carpooling on our return trip. ) = $187.00
  2. Co-pay for insurance (Emergency Room) = $75.00

I was seen by a Physician and orthopedic doctor in my hometown, and was advised to follow a physical therapy regimen until recovery.

I intend to make a demand for mental anguish, anxiety, and physical discomfort in the amount of $2500.00. The physical discomfort had stifled my normal social activities, usual driving, and caused me to miss certain social obligations for at least 2 weeks after the incident.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Myrna,

The legal paradigm involved in your set of facts is Premises Liability. Under premises liability, a landowner has a legal duty of care to do everything within reason to make sure their premises is safe for all people legally upon it.

There are three categories of persons who enter upon the premises of another:

  1. An Invitee is someone who is on another person’s property because they were invited by the property owner or the owner’s representative, and was there to engage in a mutually beneficial business purpose. A hotel guest enters upon a hotel premises and pays an amount of money so that in return, the hotel may provide the guest with a room to sleep in, a pool to swim in, a restaurant to eat in, etc. The hotel guest is an invitee.
  2. A licensee is someone who has permission from the property owner to be on the property, but who visits for his or her own purposes or amusement, rather than for business purposes. Party guests are licensees, as are neighbors, relatives, friends, and others who enjoy an overt or implied invitation to visit or use the owner’s property.
  3. A Trespasser is a person who enters another person’s property without the property owner’s permission and for the trespasser’s own purposes.

A hotel has a legal duty of care to do everything within reason to protect a guest from undue harm or injury. Here’s an example…

Let’s say a hotel guest spilled her drink onto the hotel lobby floor. The spill was evident to the employees at the front desk, and to the bell hops. However, because there was a conference in town, the employees were busy booking guests in.

The spill was left unattended for over an hour, with some guests walking around it, while others walked right through it. No one from the hotel removed the spill, nor did anyone place a cautionary sign close to the spill. Finally, one hotel guest slipped and fell on the spill, becoming injured.

In the above example, the hotel would very likely be liable, as they breached their legal duty to the guest by not having the spill promptly removed, or by having placed a cautionary sign near the spill. As a result, the hotel would be responsible for the guest’s injuries and resulting medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and an amount for the guest’s pain and suffering.

However, the hotel owner’s legal duty is a “reasonable” one. This means the hotel cannot be held liable for a spilled drink in which there was insufficient time to notice the spill, or to remove it. That would be an unreasonable burden. To be liable, the hotel employees would have had to know the spill existed, and with plenty of time, failed to remove it.

In your case, the spill and your fall happened at the same time. It would be entirely unreasonable for the hotel to have cleaned up a spill which happened simultaneously with your fall. As a result, you do not appear to have the basis of a personal injury claim against the hotel.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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