Despite the recent economic down turn and closure of hotels and businesses, Atlantic City, New Jersey remains one of the Northeast region’s hotspots. Residents of neighboring states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey often travel to Atlantic City and stay in any one of the city’s multiple hotels. Many come for the shows, food, gambling, etc. Others come for work functions like conventions or business meetings.
The vast majority of people staying at Atlantic City hotels will never even have to concern themselves with accidents and injuries. However, for some, accidents and injuries do happen, and oftentimes, lawsuits are necessary because hotels hardly ever admit fault or liability without court intervention. Below is a discussion of the three most common types of lawsuits. It is important to note that casino hotels have cameras covering practically every inch of the premises, including the parking garage, entrances/exits, hallways, stairways, etc. Therefore, getting a copy of video footage will be very helpful for the plaintiff (injured person). It is important to seek help from a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure recovery of a copy of the relevant video footage.
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There are three common types of lawsuits against Atlantic City, New Jersey hotels: fall accidents, alcohol injuries and security breaches. It’s important to note that in some instances, other parties may be held liable, such as businesses which operate inside of hotels. For instance, an accident occurs inside of a restaurant located in a hotel. Both the hotel and the restaurant operator may be named in a subsequent injury lawsuit.
Slip, Trip & Fall Accidents
Slip and falls or trip and falls are one of the most common types of accidents resulting in lawsuits against Atlantic City hotels. In a hotel on any given day, there may be hundreds of people shopping, eating, gambling, etc. Fall accidents happen every day. Common causes of fall accidents resulting in viable lawsuits include:
- fluid on the floor (water, spilled drinks, etc.),
- uneven surfaces due to poor maintenance, and
- stairway or step irregularities.
For example, a Philadelphia resident is staying at a hotel in Atlantic City for a weekend getaway. He is walking down a hallway when his foot catches on a piece of torn carpeting. He trips, falls and breaks his wrist.
Proving Negligence in a Hotel Fall Accident Lawsuit
The hotel may be held liable if there is sufficient evidence that at some point prior to the accident, either 1. the hotel’s employees had knowledge of the defective condition of the carpeting, or 2. the hotel’s employees should have known about the carpeting (i.e., failed to conduct reasonable inspections of the area).
Alcohol consumption is often encouraged in many Atlantic City casino hotels. After all, casino hotels turn higher profits when patrons gamble more, and alcohol consumption can certainly get patrons to gamble more. That’s the reason many hotels allow guests to consume alcohol anywhere on the premises, including casino floors, walkways, etc. Many hotels even allow guests to carry alcoholic drinks between areas, i.e., a guest who is gambling may be able to take their drink with them as they walk around other areas in the hotel.
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to incidents like fights, assaults, etc. In addition, a guest who has had too much to drink at a casino may get behind the wheel and cause a DUI auto accident.
New Jersey Alcohol Accident Law
Under New Jersey law, hotels and restaurants/bars may be held liable for negligence in serving alcohol to patrons. If an employee serves an individual who is already visibly intoxicated, the employer (hotel, bar, restaurant, etc.) can be held liable for a resulting accident or injury. The same rule applies to minors who are served alcohol. If an employee serves a minor under circumstances where the employee should know that the individual is a minor, the employer can be held liable.
For example, a minor gets into a club at a large casino hotel in Atlantic City, NJ. The minor is never carded and is served multiple alcoholic drinks. The minor later dies after crashing his car into a pole on the nearby Atlantic City Expressway. In this example, the hotel club may be held liable for the minor’s death because the minor was never carded and was served alcohol.
Lawsuits resulting from hotel security breaches are actually very common. Criminals often target hotel patrons. Thefts, robberies and even sexual assaults can occur due to lapses in security. Hotels have a duty to take reasonable precautions to protect patrons against known or reasonably foreseeable security risks.
The key in these cases is whether the hotel had knowledge of the risk of criminal activity. Were there prior reports or complaints of criminal conduct? Were there prior reports of security issues, such as broken door locks?
Claims for Financial Compensation – What Can You Recover?
In New Jersey hotel lawsuit cases, injured parties (plaintiffs) can make claims for both economic and non-economic damages. Claims for economic damages usually include medical bills, lost pay, and other out of pocket expenses. Claims for non-economic damages are pain and suffering damages, i.e., the mental anguish and physical pain caused by the incident.
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