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Are Hotels Responsible for Assaults on Their Property?

By Butler Prather LLP on September 20, 2021

An assault can happen anywhere. Assaults happen at shopping mall parking lots, private residences, restaurants, and many other areas. They also happen at hotels. However, are hotels responsible for injuries that occur as a result of an assault on their premises?

Here, we want to discuss how premises liability law handles assaults that occur on hotel and motel property in Georgia. The reality is that there are some instances where property owners could be held liable for an assault on their property, but there is also a chance that they will hold no liability at all.

Are Hotels Responsible for Assaults on Their Property?

Hotels and Security

Premises liability law typically determines that property owners have certain responsibilities. This includes ensuring a safe premises for those who have a right to be there. For hotels and motels, they have an enhanced responsibility, particularly because having guests is the tenant of their business. Anytime a hotel fails to provide a safe environment for guests, they could be held liable in the event an assault occurs.

However, if you get assaulted at a hotel, the hardest part will be proving negligence on the part of the hotel staff or management. We need to point out how important it is to have an attorney by your side handling these cases. Georgia premises liability lawyer will have the resources necessary to prove the four elements of negligence that need to be present for a successful claim:

  • Duty. The first thing that has to be shown is that the hotel had a duty to keep their guest safe. If a person is an official guest at a hotel, this typically is enough to establish that the hotel has a duty of care.
  • Breach of duty. It will have to be shown that the hotel breached its duty of care in some way. For example, if there were no security measures present and this oversight allowed the assault to occur, this would be a breach of duty.
  • Causation. It must then be shown that the breach of duty directly led to the assault.
  • Damages. Finally, it needs to be shown that the injury victim suffered some sort of loss as a result of the assault.

Every hotel assault case will be different. There are various ways that an assault can happen on the hotel property in parking lots, in hallways, and even in hotel rooms, particularly if there is forced entry. A hotel could be held liable if they breach their duty of care in a variety of ways, including:

  • Failing to maintain security personnel
  • Not having proper surveillance equipment
  • Having inadequate check-in procedures
  • Inadequate locks on doors
  • Overserving alcohol to guests at restaurants or bars on the premises

When a Hotel Might Not be Liable for an Assault

Not every assault that occurs on hotel property will be the fault of the hotel owners or operators. For example, if a domestic dispute occurs between guests and their family members or friends, this is not likely something that the hotel could have prevented.

Additionally, if an argument occurs between two guests staying at the same hotel, any assault that occurs will likely not be the fault of the hotel unless they knew about the conflict and failed to promptly take steps to prevent escalation. Sudden or spontaneous fights that break out will likely not be the fault of hotel operators.

I was in a complex premises liability case involving a multinational corporations. Mr. Butler & his associates were always three steps ahead of these defendants. When they say they are "exceptional trial lawyers," this is not just a slogan but it is a way of life.”
- Zack Hendon