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Slip & falls: should hotel guests have constructive knowledge of dangers?

Slip & falls: should hotel guests have constructive knowledge of dangers?

January 31, 2014

Slip and fall accidents are common in Hawaii’s resort hotels due to slippery hotel lobby floors, wet areas around pools and guests general lack of familiarity with a hotel’s grounds. However, should a hotel be held liable for a slip and fall accident or should guests have constructive knowledge of the dangers that surround them?


Constructive knowledge is a fancy way of describing common sense, which generally comes into play in a slip and fall accident – especially in hotel environments. Although hotel owners must take reasonable steps to provide a safe environment for guests, it’s also understandable that guests should have the common sense to know the importance of acting cautiously.

For example, if a hotel’s lobby is wet after guests have been to the beach, a hotel must take reasonable steps to keep it dry, such as mopping up wet areas and putting up signs to warn guests of a wet floor. If they don’t and someone slips and falls, they can be held liable under premises liability.

But wait… Shouldn’t guests staying at the hotel have the common sense (or constructive knowledge) to know that the lobby floors of a beach hotel might be slippery? That depends. If you’ve never stayed in a hotel before, then you wouldn’t know. However, if you’re a frequent guest of the hotel or have traveled extensively, then the hotel may claim that you should have known that the floors could pose a danger.

When a frequent guest runs barefooted through the lobby at full speed and slips, that guest may not have as strong a case that the hotel was negligent. However, in most situations, property owners can be – and are – held liable for slip and fall accidents in situations where guests use a reasonable amount of caution. That’s a good thing, because slip and fall accidents can result in serious and costly injuries.


Slip and fall accidents can cause serious injuries – especially to the spinal cord, head and neck – and result in significant medical costs, lost income and rehabilitation:

  • Spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries can result in quadriplegia or paraplegia – leaving victims disabled for the rest of their lives. They can also lead to numerous other medical issues such as respiratory issues, sensory and motor losses and severe depression.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs vary in scope and severity, but can result in permanent disability or death. They can also lead to numerous emotional, physical, cognitive and behavioral issues, which may require surgeries, physical therapy, occupational therapy and more.
  • Neck injuries. Neck injuries are one of the most common side effects of a slip and fall accident. Commonly referred to as whiplash, neck injuries generally involve soft tissues that can lead to serious consequences and have long-term effects such as cognitive and psychological difficulties, sleep issues and vision problems. Unfortunately, many neck injury victims don’t realize the full extent of their injuries for months after the accident.

Regardless of what type of injury you may have sustained in a slip and fall accident, chances are that you will end up with significant medical bills, lost income and suffer some degree of physical and emotional pain.

If your injury was the result of someone else’s negligence, don’t take on the financial and emotional burden of your injuries without speaking to an experienced premises liability lawyer who can analyze your situation and inform you of your legal options so that you can make an informed decision on what’s best for you.

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