Hotel and Motel Liability for Sexual Assaults in South Carolina
Experienced sexual abuse lawyers helping victims of assault and trafficking
Hotels and motels have a responsibility to their guests to protect them from violent crime like assaults and sexual predators. They should provide proper security within the hotel, on motel property, and in parking lots and garages. When they fail in their duty to keep you safe, they need to be held accountable.
At McGowan, Hood, & Felder LLC, our negligent security attorneys understand the statutes and case law requiring hotels and motels to protect their patrons from sexual assaults and other crimes. We aggressively work to show the hotel/motel was aware that their property created a risk of sexual assault, and/or provided safe haven to sex traffickers. If you were the victim of sexual abuse at a hotel or motel in South Carolina, contact us to learn more about your options.
When are hotels and motels liable for sexual assault?
There are different reasons why a hotel or motel could be liable for a sexual assault that occurs on their property. Owners of commercial and public property have a duty to protect their visitors from criminal attacks and assaults that they could have reasonably anticipated. If the hotel anticipates criminal activity, then the owners need to take reasonable steps to protect customers and others on the property from the attacks.
Hotels and motels can be held liable under theories of negligent security or breach of contract.
Many people enter hotel and motel rooms at night, while it’s dark. Travelers are likely to be unfamiliar with the area, and intoxicated patrons may be unable to consent to sexual activity. For these reasons, it’s imperative that owners and managers keep their establishments as safe as possible.
Some of the many steps that hotels and motels should take to protect their patrons include:
- Conducting background checks on employees, especially those with access to rooms
- Evicting guests who are violent or drunk
- Having proper alarm systems in place
- Hiring a security staff and making it easy for visitors to contact the staff
- Keeping entranceways locked during specific hours
- Making sure that the hallways, garages, and public areas have good lighting
- Monitoring who can use key cards
- Ensuring children are supervised, and that they are kept someplace safe if their parents cannot be found
- Providing locks and electronic access keys in limited numbers
- Using surveillance cameras in hallways, public areas, and parking lots
Breach of contract
Guests who stay in a hotel/motel may have the right to hold the owners liable for an assault because they pay for more than just a room and the right to use the lobby, restaurant, and other facilities – as a guest, you pay to stay in a safe place. It is possible that owners and operators may be liable for your assault for breaching this contract.
Hotel liability in cases of sex trafficking
The Department of Homeland Security has singled out hotels and motels as “attractive locations” for sex traffickers due to the relative anonymity that such locations provide, and for the lack of training staff receives in identifying trafficking victims.
However, according to Trafficking Matters, “hotels can be held civilly and criminally liable for allowing sex trafficking to occur on their property. The law allows a survivor to bring a case against the trafficker, but also against any entity who financially benefited from his or her victimization and knew or should have known that the activity was a violation of human trafficking law.”
If you have been a victim of sex trafficking, and your abuser held you by means of force, fraud, or coercion in a hotel or motel, the owners and operators may be at least partially liable for your damages.
What does a sexual assault attorney do?
Victims of abuse have legal options but navigating the justice system on your own can be very difficult. The laws are complicated, and you should work with an attorney who can explain what your rights are, as well as your options for pursuing justice. At McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC:
- We can assist you in choosing the right medical and psychological. For most sexual assault victims, the physical injuries heal with time. The emotional injuries leave a lifetime of scars. In sexual assault cases, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health counselors, and others work with victims so they can move forward with their lives.
- We investigate these cases in multiple ways, including taking pictures/video of the place where the assault/abuse took place, speak with witnesses and attempt to find out about any other similar incidents or prior attacks/abuse at the hotel/motel.
- We work to determine exactly who the owners of the hotel or motel are. Often, they are not the name on the sign. In addition to the person who assaulted you and the hotel/motel, security companies and maintenance companies may also be liable for your trauma.
- We conduct extensive discovery to determine what the hotel ownership and management knew about potential prior attacks, and about the person who committed the attacks.
Damages in sexual assault cases at hotel or motel
Once liability is established, you are entitled to damages for your losses and injuries. Damages in sexual assault cases can include:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Punitive damages
Compassionate South Carolina hotel and motel sexual assault attorneys
At McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC, we’re dedicated to the pursuit of justice. We understand how devastating it is to be raped or sexually assaulted. We work with your medical professionals and support network to fully understand the pain and suffering you have suffered and are going through so we can aggressively pursue your case. We provide a safe and secure environment for you to discuss your needs with an attorney. If you prefer speaking with a female attorney, just let us know and we’ll arrange it for you. For help, call us at 803-327-7800 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.
Handling a variety of Sexual Abuse and Assault cases
There are many different types of assault cases. No matter the specifics, our attorneys are prepared to help you. We handle cases involving: