Is a Hotel Responsible for Crime Victims on Their Premises?

According to NYPD data, crime in New York City’s hotels and motels has soared by nearly 20 percent since 2015 while, curiously, overall crime has plunged. In 2017, there were 2,656 hotel crimes reported throughout the five boroughs; compared to 2,223 in 2015 – a 19.5-percent increase.

From 2016 to 2017, felony assaults in local hotels and motels exploded almost 52 percent, from 81 to 122, and third-degree assaults shot up 38 percent, from 255 to 352. But the highest number of criminal offenses — grand larceny, 531 cases — was a 12-percent leap over the 474 reported in 2016.

Hotel crime has actually been gradually tracking-up since 2011. And since then the increased number of reported incidents – 1,826 – represents a 45.5 rise in that seven-year period. Hotel and security industry experts, along with the NYPD, express frustration in being unable to explain this clear spike in hotel crime.

Hotels can be – and often are – held liable for injuries to guests when they are determined to be negligent in performing their duty of care to protect guests. Hotel/motel owners can also be held responsible for the negligent (or willful) acts of hotel employees that result in injuries to their visitors and other guests. But in order to hold a hotel legally responsible for injuries or other damages, injured victims must establish that the hotel or employee was somehow negligent. That means showing that the hotel breached the duty owed to the visitor or guest who was injured or robbed on the premises; and that breach of their duty justifies the hotel visitor’s demanding legal damages.

Thefts and assaults usually involve a breakdown in security if some “trespasser” victimizes a guest. If an employee is the culprit, hotel ownership may not have properly screened this employee. Assaults against guests may be felonies or misdemeanors; a significant number of sexual assaults happen to unwary hotel guests, though the NYPD did not disclose the number, or how many of those cases were closed.

Hotels and motels are required to meet meticulous safety standards to assure the well-being of their paying guests – who are viewed in premises law as “invitees.” Should they fail in this duty of care, and a patron becomes a crime victim in their room or anywhere on the property, the owners of the hotel/motel would likely owe financial damages to the victim guest/invitee.

Many of the more prominent hotels have security operations which are responsible for keeping their guests safe, but those NYPD hotel crime numbers show there’s plenty of room for improvement before hotels and motels in general can successfully lower their risk of liability and incidence of lawsuits when guests are harmed.

Premises liability law makes it a bit easier for crime victims to win their claims, because some of the highest standards of care are placed on hotel and motel owners. And the higher the standard, the easier it can be to prove owner negligence.

If you have been injured in an assault, or were a victim of theft as a guest in one of New York City’s hotels or motels, the attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC are here to help prove your claims and aggressively represent your quest for fair compensation for the damages you have suffered.