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Failed security in your hotel: when can you take legal action?

People from around the world come to Florida for vacations and business trips, making the hotel industry an important one. In general, hotel owners know that they are not only required to please their guests; they are also expected to protect them. Unfortunately, there are times when they fail to take the necessary steps to keep visitors safe because they did not have adequate security in place.

In some of these situations, the hotel can and should be held liable for damages suffered as a result of an accident, attack or other incident. However, this is not always the case. In this post, we will explore when hotel owners may or may not be held liable for security-related incidents on their property.

When people think about instances of lax security at hotels, they probably think about stolen property. However, Florida statutes state that generally speaking, hotel operators are not liable for the loss of a guest's property unless they were negligent or directly at fault for the theft.

In terms of personal safety, however, hotel owners can be held accountable for incidents arising out of inadequate security. For example, if a guest was hurt during an accident or assault on hotel grounds, there may be cause to hold the hotel owner accountable.

Hotel owners are expected to take reasonable action to protect visitors on the property. This can mean different things to different hotels, especially in terms of location. A hotel in a part of town where crime is an issue will typically be required to have more security features -- cameras, guards, lighting and access restrictions -- than hotels in safer areas. This is because the risk of an assault or incident causing injury may be more foreseeable in these areas.

However, if a victim was trespassing or an uninvited licensee, the hotel may not be liable for any damages suffered as a result of failed or negligent security.

There are a number of challenges that can arise in these premises liability cases, from the classification of the victim to arguments that the incident was not foreseeable. Because of these complex issues and the importance of protecting a victim's rights, it can be crucial for people in this situation to work with an attorney as they navigate the legal system.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?" accessed on Sept. 16, 2015

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