When you head out for a night on the town or a weekend getaway, the last thing you expect to happen is that you are in an accident that causes long-term problems, but it happens more often than you’d think. When it comes to staying in a hotel or eating at a restaurant, there are many things that can go wrong.
From tripping on damaged flooring to burns to slipping on unsalted sidewalks in the winter, hazards are everywhere in the hospitality industry. While many of these incidents are true accidents, a majority of accidents that happen could have been prevented. This negligence leads to thousands of injuries every year, both to patrons and employees.
Reasons To Sue A Restaurant
Many people wonder what can you sue a restaurant for, and there are actually a large number of accidents that are common to both restaurants and hotels. Restaurant accidents are usually in one of the following categories:
- Premises Liability: This will include things like slip and fall accidents, as well as collisions with waitstaff, burns, scalds, cuts, and more. Slip and falls are incredibly common in places where food and drink are served, and even a small amount left on the floor can lead to a devastating accident with severe and possible life-changing injuries being sustained during the accident. Many people wonder if you can sue a restaurant for falling on their property, and the answer in a large number of cases is absolutely, yes.
- Food Safety: Food safety is a serious concern considering all of the food-borne illnesses that can be contracted. Contracting an illness from improperly stored or prepared food can result in severe gastrointestinal upset, and in some cases can even lead to death. Many illnesses that come from food are potentially deadly if not treated immediately and the victim kept hydrated. Many people think that it’s simply a stomach bug until it is too late and there are further complications.
- Failure To Maintain A Safe Environment: The owners and management of a restaurant or other dining or drinking establishment have a duty of care to provide a safe and clean place for their patrons to eat and drink. If alcohol is being served, this duty can extend to making sure people are not entering with dangerous weapons, and are not being potentially overserved.
The Most Common Accidents In Restaurants And Hotels
When you go to your favorite restaurant for dinner, you expect things to go smoothly, as they usually do. Unfortunately, there are numerous ways a guest can be injured at a restaurant, most of which could easily be prevented with some care and diligence from the staff.
With more than 2,500 slip and fall accidents happening in the United States each day, many of which occur in restaurants, it is important to keep an eye out while visiting your favorite eateries so you don’t get hurt. Many of these slip and fall accidents happen because of something that was spilled, tripping over damaged flooring, or slipping on unsalted sidewalks in the winter.
Slip And Fall
These types of accidents are the second most common in the entire country, only coming in behind auto accidents. Just like nearly every other accident that happens on a daily basis, slip and falls are caused almost entirely by negligence, in one or more of its many forms. Depending on the situation, it could be negligence by action, which is where someone does something they are not supposed to do. There is also the possibility that it could be negligence by inaction, meaning that someone didn’t do something that they should have.
In restaurants, slips and falls can happen from any number of dropped, dripped, or spilled food or drink, in addition to other common causes like uneven flooring or flooring in poor repair, inadequate or defective lighting, and more.
Often in well-managed restaurants and dining establishments, you will be hard-pressed to find any hazards that may result in a potential slip and fall injury. The management in such locations often places a high priority on the safety of their guests, and so potential dangers are addressed immediately. However, in restaurants that are not at that level of performance, there may be one or more hazards present that could be the impetus for a serious accident.
In hotels, the most frequent slip and falls will happen in areas where customers enter and exit, tracking in water and the elements with them, as well as in common areas, hallways, stairs, and guest bathing areas.
Many hotels have made strides towards making their common areas more up to date and safe to navigate, but in some areas, you may still be able to find hotels with cracked tile in the entryway, cracked or uneven concrete in front of the building and in parking areas, and uneven flooring in lobby areas.
Additional hazards are areas where tile floor meets carpeting, and the carpeting has become loose or is otherwise not secured, creating a potential tripping hazard. This similar hazard can often be seen in hotel stairwells as well, since they are usually not as well-maintained as the more frequently used areas of the hotel.
Food-borne illnesses are not unique to just restaurants and other dining establishments, many hotels not only have their own restaurants in the building but also often provide common breakfast areas as well as room service in some upscale hotels. This can provide ample opportunity for a guest to contract a food-borne illness.
Food-borne illness can be the result of not only improper storage but also improper preparation of the food, as well as poor hygiene of the person preparing the food. This is another type of accident that is purely dependent on someone’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness. There are so many points along the line for food-borne illness to be prevented, that it is often only seen in some of the most poorly-managed dining establishments.
Health inspections can often determine shortfalls in food storage and preparation standards, but the arguably larger potential hazard of contamination by the person preparing the food is only preventable by the management of the kitchen. Proper sanitizing, dishwashing, and hand washing techniques should be inspected by all kitchen management and kept in check before, during, and after the dining is finished for the day.
Food service accident prevention will often involve significant training for the employees that will be in contact with food, and who will staff food preparation areas. This training will usually involve extensive education on proper food storage techniques and methods, as well as preparation sanitation. There will often be training on how to properly prepare even difficult foods, to comply with the food preparation requirements of local health authorities.
These accidents are most commonly seen in poorly managed hotels that have not placed the required emphasis on security, or in restaurants that serve alcohol and are also managed in such a way that guests can be easily overserved. Another possible issue lies with guest security and ensuring that people who may potentially become intoxicated are not allowed to bring possibly dangerous weapons onto the premises.
In hotels, the most frequent types of assaults are often sexual assaults of guests who the hotel has failed to keep safe behind adequate security measures. This can happen by management being negligent to doors with faulty locks, outdated entry security technology, poorly-trained hospitality staff, and more. These breaches of the duty of care to keep guests safe can result in someone gaining entry to a guest’s room and a resulting assault.
Negligence Cases in Hospitality Industry
Knowing how to sue a restaurant for negligence is just the beginning. When you are working against a more well-known company, their lawyers are going to do anything in their power to prevent giving an adequate payout for your damages. Once you determine what the process is to proceed, the real challenges begin.
The hardest part will likely be proving the business was acting negligently in the way they acted.
How To Sue A Hotel For Injury
Hotels are supposed to be a safe haven, an oasis on your travels. It isn’t someplace where you should be worried about potentially being injured by someone else’s negligent actions or inaction. Nevertheless, the hotel and restaurant injury statistics can be terrifying. Although, while a hotel does have a duty of care to protect you from harm, it does not apply to any and all harm that is possible during your stay.
In order to successfully sue a hotel for injuries you suffered, and potentially collect a hotel negligence settlement, you will need to prove your injury claim. This means that you will have the burden of proof and that you will need to provide enough evidence to demonstrate:
- That the hotel had a duty of care to protect you from the harm you suffered.
- The hotel breached this duty of care, by allowing or permitting the circumstances of your injury.
- That your injury resulted in real damages that you can prove.
The most important thing to do in order to help prove this is to begin collecting evidence and protecting yourself from the very moment you are injured. Time is always of the essence in an injury case, not only because the statute of limitations can eventually prohibit you from seeking compensation, but if you do not immediately prove your injuries as medical fact, it can mean the failure of your case.
The first thing you need to do is prove the accident happened, so you will need to let a member of management know as soon as it happens so that they can create the official incident report. Write down their name, as well as their contact information and title in the company, and request a copy of the incident report as soon as it is finished. They will probably not give you the insurer’s contact info, and may simply let you know that someone from the company will contact you soon.
If there were any witnesses to the accident, make sure you speak to them if possible, and get their contact information. Family and friends are great, but the best witness statements come from independent witnesses that have no relation to you at all.
Make sure you take extensive pictures and videos of the accident scene, no matter where it is. If you fell in your shower, get pictures of the entire area. If you tripped on a broken tile in the lobby, get pictures and video of the area, the hazard, and the surroundings. Even things like the lighting conditions can affect the weight of your claim with the insurer.
Once you have created the incident report with management and recorded everything you can, you will need to ensure your injuries are documented as fact as soon as possible. This means heading to the emergency room, immediate care center, doctor’s office, or anywhere else you can have a doctor or medical professional note your injuries in your records.
To build the strongest claim for your damages, be sure that you consolidate all paperwork for, and keep track of, all of your medical expenses, appointment costs, medication copay amounts paid, and any other out-of-pocket expenses that you have incurred as a result of your injury. Be sure you also get documentation from your employer stating the amounts of your lost wages and missed work. If you work overtime normally, get proof of that as well, so that it can be calculated into the number of damages that you are seeking compensation for.
If you have extensive damages, particularly anything that has required surgery, or may need a lengthy and complicated recovery or rehabilitation, you may want to speak to a qualified personal injury attorney to determine if you can seek compensation for potential future medical expenses. This may also depend on if you have reached what your doctor considers to be your personal point of maximum medical improvement.