When a guest is injured at a conference, during a hotel stay or when attending a public party, he may well decide to sue the venue, citing negligence and trying to prove that the hotel, resort, club or facility could have helped prevent the incident. While it’s not possible to prepare for every possible accident that can happen during a banquet, dance or trade show party, a review of the most common types of negligence can help you protect your guests and yourself.
Definition of Negligence
Negligence refers to a venue’s lack of reasonable care to ensure the safety of its guests. An injured party does not have to prove that you knew about an unsafe condition if she can prove you did not exercise reasonable care in preventing the problem. Reasonable care actions include inspecting the facility and its furniture and equipment on a regular basis; screening employees’ backgrounds and training and supervising them; providing clean areas for food and beverage preparation and service; instituting basic building security measures; and taking steps to avoid a repeat of previous accidents.
Slip and Fall
One of the most common forms of accidents at hospitality venues is a slip-and-fall accident. The frequency is so great, this phrase is now a common legal term. Common causes of these accidents include carpets not properly secured to the floor, electrical cords laid across floors, wet floors caused by leaking ceilings or janitorial work, objects or liquids on stairs, and hand railings that fail. If you have a trade show or meetings where exhibitors or speakers use electronic presentation equipment, require them to use your electrical cords and insist that your staff install them to ensure they are properly laid, taped and covered. An insurance defense attorney or your insurance carrier should be able to give you a list of slip-and-fall precautions your facility can take.
If an intruder attacks your guest, the fault may lie in your lack of security precautions. Dangers include easy access to your venue by unauthorized personnel, poorly lit parking lots, stairwells or hallways, lack of staff identification, broken locks, and absence of security guards. Working with a security company, you can determine if you need measures such as increased door security, video cameras or professional security personnel to improve the safety of your guests and decrease your potential liability.
Food and Beverage Illness
Whether you prepare and serve food on site or work with caterers who bring food in, you can be held liable for food-borne illnesses your guests suffer. If you prepare food, hire a professionally trained chef and have him work with the local health department to ensure you meet all industry standards for hygiene, cleanliness and food preparation. If you have food brought onto your property, designate one room as your food-handling area and meet with your local health inspector to make the room ready for the preparation and serving of food. If you serve alcohol on the property, take steps to prevent minors from drinking and guests from continuing to drink after they are obviously inebriated.