Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a California premises liability case requiring the court to discuss under which circumstances a person who attempts to come to the aid of another person, but fails to help them, can be held responsible for any preventable injuries. The court ultimately concluded that under the “negligent undertaking” theory of liability, the hotel may have assumed a duty of care to provide reasonable assistance to the hotel guest by assuring the guest’s husband that a hotel employee would check on his wife in her hotel room.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff checked into the defendant hotel, which was about an hour away from the couple’s residence. The plaintiff and her husband had been visiting the hotel for a number of years and owned timeshare privileges at the hotel. After the plaintiff arrived, her husband tried to reach the plaintiff on her cell phone. However, the plaintiff did not answer.
Fearing that his wife was hurt, the plaintiff’s husband called the front desk and asked them to check on his wife. The front desk attendant called the room, and no one answered. Then, the attendant asked a maintenance worker to perform a welfare check on the plaintiff. The maintenance worker knocked on the door, opened it, and saw that the room was dark. He then returned to the front desk, reporting that the plaintiff was not in her room.
The next day, the plaintiff’s husband drove to the hotel. When he entered his wife’s hotel room, he noticed that the lights were on, and his wife was lying on the floor. She had suffered a brain aneurysm. The plaintiff and her husband filed a personal injury lawsuit against the hotel, claiming that if the plaintiff had been located sooner, she would have avoided some of the long-term effects of the aneurysm.
The Court’s Analysis
The court began its analysis by noting that, in general, a bystander has no obligation to come to the aid of a person in danger unless the relationship between the parties gives rise to a duty to act. However, the court then explained that when someone voluntarily undertakes to assist another person in peril, they assume a duty to exercise due care in providing any assistance.
Here, the court held, the maintenance worker may have assumed such a duty when he conducted the welfare check, but the final determination should be left for a jury to decide. Thus, since a material issue of fact was present – whether the maintenance worker assumed a duty of care and whether his actions fulfilled that duty – the court held that the summary judgment in favor of the defendant hotel was improper, and the case should be submitted to a jury for resolution.
Have You Been Injured While Staying at a California Hotel?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while staying at a hotel, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a California personal injury lawsuit. In most cases, hotels are responsible for maintaining a safe property for their guests, and hotel management can be held liable if due care is not taken. However, as the case discussed above notes, there may be additional theories of liability, even if your injury was not caused by a dangerous condition in the hotel. To learn more, and to speak with a dedicated California hotel accident attorney about your case, call 866-422-7222 to schedule your free consultation. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are successful in helping your family and you obtain the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
How Do Courts Apportion Liability in California Personal Injury Cases Involving Multiple At-Fault Parties?, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, February 5, 2018
Hit-and-Run Accidents in Southern California, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, January 19, 2018