Earlier this month, an appellate court in Kentucky issued an opinion in a premises liability case brought by a man who slipped and fell while staying as a guest in the defendant hotel. In the case, Goodwin v. Al J. Schneider, the court had the opportunity to discuss the duty of care hotels owe to their guests, ultimately holding that the hotel did owe Goodwin a duty to keep him safe from both known and unknown hazards.
The Facts of the Case
Goodwin and his wife were staying at the defendant hotel during a conference. On the second night of their stay, Goodwin attempted to get into the shower but slipped and fell, injuring his leg. Goodwin brought a premises liability lawsuit against the hotel, arguing that the hotel was negligent in failing to take sufficient measures to prevent slip-and-fall accidents while getting into the shower.
Specifically, Goodwin pointed to the fact that there was not a bathmat in the shower, and other rooms in the hotel did have bathmats. He acknowledged that the shower had a hand rail to assist guests in getting into the shower, but he argued that the failure to place a bathmat in the shower was a violation of the duty of care the hotel owed him, and this breach of duty resulted in his fall.
The hotel responded that it was Goodwin’s own negligence that caused the fall. Also, the hotel argued that it did not have a duty to keep guests safe from “open and obvious” hazards, such as a wet bathtub.
The trial court agreed with the hotel that the hotel did not owe Goodwin a duty in this particular circumstance, and it granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the defense. The appellate court affirmed. Goodwin, not satisfied with the result, appealed to the highest court in the state.
Goodwin Is Successful on Appeal
In its opinion, the state’s high court explained that the lower courts mixed up two very important questions in a premises liability case: a landowner’s duty to its guest and the determination of whether the landowner violated that duty. In this case, the relevant question was not whether a duty existed; it clearly did. In fact, the court held that a landowner always has some kind of duty to its guests. The question that should have been asked was whether the hotel violated the duty that it owed Goodwin. Since the lower courts failed to conduct this analysis, the case was sent back to the trial court to make this determination.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Indiana slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury lawyers at the Indiana law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have decades of combined experience handling personal injury cases on behalf of their injured clients. They understand the nuances that can arise during these cases and take every action to enforce a client’s rights to recover compensation for their injuries. Call 888-532-7766 to set up a free consultation today.
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