Caution wet sign in a hotel lobby


Paul Benson Jan. 14, 2021

Slip and falls are the leading cause of accidents in hotels, public buildings, and restaurants. According to the Global Floor Safety Network, nearly 70 percent of these slip and fall accidents occur on flat and level surfaces. In Wisconsin, when you're injured in an accident on a hotel's premises or another person's property, you are well within your rights to hold the property owner responsible and seek fair compensation for your injuries.  

When I started my firm, the Paul Benson Law Firm, I did so with the goal to offer experienced legal guidance and compassionate representation to personal injury victims in need. When you choose me as your legal counsel, I will dedicate myself to investigating the details of your case, work to determine liability, and do everything I can to protect your rights. As an experienced Wisconsin personal injury attorney, I will fight vigorously to advocate for your needs and help you pursue fair financial compensation for your injuries. I proudly serve clients throughout Janesville, Beloit, and Rock County, Wisconsin, so reach out today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Premises Liability With Respect to Hotels and Other Businesses

In Wisconsin, property owners have a responsibility to keep the premises reasonably safe for visitors and customers. Failure to do so means that the property owner can be held liable for accidents or injuries that occur on their property. Through a premises liability lawsuit, a visitor may hold the hotel owner or management responsible for an injury or accident that occurred due to any dangerous, unsafe, or hazardous conditions on the hotel premises.

Duties and Responsibilities of Hotels and Other Businesses

Hotels and other businesses owe the following duties and responsibilities to their visitors and customers:

  • Keep the hotel or business premises in reasonably safe conditions

  • Exercise reasonable care when hiring staff

  • Provide sufficient security on the promise to ensure safety

  • Ensure that proper locks are available for rooms and safes to protect guest's belongings

  • Employ properly trained pool staff or a life-guard to maintain pool operations and ensure guest's safety

  • Inspect the property regularly

  • Carry out adequate maintenance on the property

  • Repair any potentially unsafe or dangerous conditions on the hotel premises

  • Warn guests about any unsafe or dangerous conditions on the hotel premises

Renowned hotel chains in Wisconsin, such as The Edgewater, The American Club, Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, The Charmant Hotel, The Pfister Hotel, and Lodge Kohler, are aware of their responsibilities and duty of care owed to visitors. If they fail in that duty, these Wisconsin hotels may be held responsible for any resulting injuries or failure to protect their guests.

Types of Premises Liability Claims

Premises liability cases often take the form of one of the following:

Accidents Due to Dangerous Conditions on the Property 

There are a number of different hazards that can result in dangerous conditions on hotel property. Every property owner should be aware of these dangerous conditions and act accordingly to protect their guests and keep them safe. Examples of these conditions include:

  • Inadequate maintenance of the hotel premises

  • Defective conditions on the premises

  • Fires

  • Bedbugs and other harmful infestations

  • Unsafe cookware at the breakfast station

  • Porch collapses

  • Elevator and escalator defects or accidents

  • Unsafe swimming pools

  • Water leaks or flooding

  • Stair collapses or defective staircases

  • Toxic fumes or chemicals

Accidents Caused by a Failure to Protect Guests 

These accidents occur due to a failure to protect customers from criminal activity that could have been foreseen. Examples of this include:

  • Untrained or lack of pool staff or life-guard

  • Inadequate building security leading to assault, theft, or injury

  • Dog bites and animal attacks

How to Determine Liability

Premises liability accidents, including slips and falls, often occur as a result of an unfortunate combination of factors. In order to recover damages, the victim must prove that:

  • The hotel management owed you a legal duty of care and was responsible for your safety during your stay or visit.

  • There was an unsafe, dangerous, hazardous, or defective condition on the property.

  • The hotel management was aware of the unsafe condition of their hotel that resulted in the accident

  • The accident or injury occurred due to the negligence or carelessness of the hotel management.

  • You suffered actual harm, bodily injury, or property damage from the incident.

Contributory Negligence in Wisconsin Premises Liability Cases

Wisconsin follows the contributory negligence (or shared fault) principle. Under this system, a victim is not barred from recovering damages for an accident caused by another person's negligence, even if they were partially responsible. The damages that may be recovered will be reduced in proportion to their percentage of fault. However, a person found to be causally negligent for 51 percent or more shall be jointly and severally liable for the damages allowed (Wisconsin Statute section 895.045).

For instance, if the court awards $100,000 in damages for your accident, but found that you were 25 percent responsible for the accident, you will only be eligible to receive 75 percent of $100,000 ($75,000). If you were found to be 51 percent or more at fault, you wouldn't be allowed to recover any compensation at all.

Wisconsin Statute of Limitations

According to Wisconsin Statutes section 893.54, any injury lawsuit may be filed against any potential defendant within three years of the date the accident occurred. Also, you have up to six years to file a lawsuit seeking the replacement or repair of any damaged property (Wisconsin Statutes section 893.52).

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Regardless of the injury that you might have suffered, proving fault in a premises liability case can be very complicated. You need to establish that the hotel management was aware of the dangerous conditions on the premises that caused your injury, and failed to do anything about it. That’s why hiring a knowledgeable Wisconsin premises liability attorney is important to protect your rights and pursue rightful compensation.

At my firm, the Paul Benson Law Firm, I have devoted my career to handling matters of personal injury and premises liability. As an experienced personal injury attorney, I will review the details of your case, carry out a comprehensive investigation, work to establish fault, and explore all of your legal avenues to pursue and recover damages. I will fight compassionately to protect your rights and negotiate a fair financial settlement with the insurance company. Having me on your side can give you the peace of mind you need knowing that your case is in good hands.

If you or someone you know has been injured during a stay at a hotel in Janesville, Wisconsin, or the surrounding area, contact the Paul Benson Law Firm today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney. I will fight hard to protect your rights and help you pursue the compensation you need to recover from your injuries and get your life back. If you’ve been injured and live in Janesville, Beloit, or Rock County, Wisconsin, call or reach out to my firm today to get the help you need.