Some Florida hotels have no or poor security. If you are injured because of their negligent security, you may be entitled to compensation.
For purposes of this article, the word hotel also means resort or motel. Let’s look at some actual Florida hotel negligent security cases.
Lower Leg Injuries at Florida Hotels
Actual Florida hotel accident case (not mine): $382,000 was awarded for the pain and suffering component of the claim for a guest at a Miami-Dade County, Florida hotel. He claimed that he was pushed over by a man who unlawfully entered his hotel room.
He sustained a tibia plateau fracture which required surgery. Metal was placed inside his leg. It was later taken out.
The man was 31 years old. He healed well, though he did still have some resultant injury to his tibial head. His doctor stated that he would most likely need a semi or total arthroplasty before he reached fifty years of age.
The doctor hired by the hotel said he would not need the total knee replacement. The hotel’s doctor said the man may need an arthroscopy to remove loose cartilage in his knee.
The hotel waited to the day before trial to admit liability. This is a 1999 verdict.
My thoughts: If a hotel’s failure to have proper security caused your injury, you may have a case. The majority of hotel negligent security cases settle before trial.
However, some hotels will take a case to trial. A tibia plateau fracture with ORIF surgery can have a high value for the pain and suffering component of the claim.
A hotel adjuster may look at past Florida verdicts when making an offer to settle in an injury case. You should mention this verdict to the claims adjuster if a Florida hotel’s negligence caused your tibia plateau fracture requiring surgery.
I settled a tibia plateau fracture surgery case for $445,000. The accident happened in Hialeah, Miami-Dade County, Florida. It did not occur at a hotel.
However, that settlement still shows the possible pain and suffering value of a tibia plateau fracture requiring surgery.
Court OKs $4.5 Million Verdict for Not Enough Security at a Miami Beach Hotel
In Hendry v. Zelaya, 841 So. 2d 572 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003), see why a court approved a $4.5 million dollar jury verdict for pain and suffering for a skull fracture that required surgery, and a brain injury.
The jury found that there wasn’t enough security at the hotel, and that it caused a customer to get hit by a bottle in the bar.
It happened at the Clevelander Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.
Claims for Injury Due to Illegal Drug Dealing Crimes at a Hotel
Florida hotels and motels should be watchful for drug dealing that occurs in parking lots and lobbies. Drug dealing increases the danger of violence on the property.
A hotel or motel may fail to be vigilant when dealing with this drug dealing. If so, they may be liable if someone is hurt as a result. In Florida, the failure to have security may make the hotel liable for a guest’s injury or death.
Injuries Due to Lack of Security at Florida Hotels
In Florida, a hotel has no duty to protect an invitee on his property from a criminal attack by a person over whom the landowner has no control unless the criminal act was foreseeable. Ameijeiras v. Metropolitan Dade County, 534 So.2d 812 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988).
A hotel, resort or motel has a duty to protect an invitee on his premises from a criminal attack that is reasonably foreseeable. Admiral’s Port Condominium Ass’n, Inc. v. Feldman,426 So.2d 1054 (Fla. 3d DCA).
Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal (DCA) handled the two cases that I just mentioned.
Florida’s 3rd DCA handles appeals for Miami-Dade and Monroe County, Florida.
The hotel, resort or motel’s duty arises only when it has actual or constructive knowledge of similar criminal acts committed on his premises. Paterson v. Deeb, 472 So.2d 1210 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985).
In personal injury/negligent security case, it helps the injured person’s case if violent crimes were reported to the hotel in the two years prior to the attack on him or her. It may help his case if he can find evidence that the hotel knew of the existence of violent criminal activity at the hotel.
In the absence of proof that it had actual or constructive notice of similar criminal activity at the hotel, the hotel may not be held liable for the attack on the victim because, as a matter of law, the attack was not foreseeable.
Effect of Hotel Cutting back on Security Costs
Sometimes, hotels cut back on their security staff. They do this to lower costs.
An injured person may be able to claim that a decrease in security contributed to his or her injury. If so, the hotel or resort may be liable.
A hotel should make sure that its security staff and equipment give enough protection to guests. Cameras in outside public areas and indoors may deter crime.
A victim’s injury or death case may be stronger if the hotel:
- failed to have cameras.
- security company did not conduct a background check on the security staff or train them correctly.
- had cameras that were not properly maintained.
Actual Case (not mine): In the case of Hilton Hotels Corp. v. Anderson, 153 So. 3d 412 – Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 5th Dist. 2014, a Orlando jury awarded Troy Anderson (“Anderson”) damages in excess of $1.7 million for a personal injury/negligent security case.
His lawsuit was against Hilton Hotels Corporation (“Hilton”), W2007 Equity Inns Realty, LLC (“W2007”), Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (“Interstate”), and SecurAmerica, LLC (“SecurAmerica”).
On September 26, 2008, Anderson was the victim of a criminal attack in the parking lot of an Embassy Suites Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The hotel was owned and operated by W2007 pursuant to its franchise agreement with Hilton.
Interstate managed the hotel pursuant to its contract with W2007. SecurAmerica was retained by Interstate to provide security services on the hotel’s property.
Following the attack, Anderson and his wife, Paula, filed a lawsuit against the four defendants. His wife’s claim was for loss of consortium. She later dropped her claim.
Anderson sought $650,000 each from Hilton and Interstate, and $100,000 from W2007. Anderson served a demand for judgment on SecurAmerica in the amount of $300,000.
The jury returned a verdict finding the defendants (other than SecurAmerica) 72% at fault, SecurAmerica 28% at fault, and Anderson 0% at fault. Anderson’s total damages were determined to be $1,702,066.
After collateral source set-offs and taxable costs, the trial court entered a partial final judgment against the “Embassy Suites” defendants in the amount of $1,252,188.74, and against SecurAmerica in the amount of $486,962.28.
Injuries at Caribbean Resorts with Ties to Florida
In some situations if you are injured in the Caribbean or outside of Florida, you may be able to sue in Florida if the resort or hotel does business in Florida, is registered to do business in Florida, or has its principal place of business in Florida.
Actual Case (not mine): A lady filed a premises liability and negligence lawsuit in Miami-Dade County against her employer, Club Mediterranean (Bahamas), LTD., its parent, and affiliates.
While asleep in her employer-provided dormitory room, located in a building to the rear of the guest section of the Columbus Isle Village Resort in the Bahama Islands, she was attacked and sexually assaulted by an unknown assailant.
At the time of the attack, she was employed by Club Med as a costume designer.
The appeals court ruled that the factual allegations of the complaint in this case do not rely in any respect on the employment agreement between Megan Fitzpatrick and her employer. See Club Med. Seifert v. U.S. Home Corporation, 750 So. 2d 633, 638 (Fla. 1999).
They also ruled that there is no nexus between the terms and provisions of that agreement and the assault on Megan Fitzpatrick. The appeals court also sent the case back to the trial court to determine if the lawsuit should be allowed to continue in Florida, since the incident occurred in the Bahamas.
The case is Club Mediterranean, SA v. Fitzpatrick, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 3rd Dist. 2015. Club Mediterranean is known as “Club Med.”
Did a hotel, motel or resort’s poor security cause your injury or a family member’s death? Were you hurt in another type of accident or somewhere else?
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