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Innkeeper

Liability

An innkeeper has an obligation to reasonably protect guests from injury while at the inn. This duty of reasonable care mandates vigilance in protection of the guests from foreseeable risks. The innkeeper must protect guests from injury at the hands of other guests and from assaults and negligent acts of his or her own employees. The obligation to protect guests is not met merely by warning them, but must be coupled with a policing of the premises.

An innkeeper must take reasonable care regarding the safety of the guests' property and must warn guests of any hidden dangers that can be reasonably foreseen. This duty includes making inspections to ascertain that the premises are safe. The innkeeper is liable for any injuries arising from his or her failure to comply with fire regulations. Reasonably safe means of ingress and egress must be provided.

An innkeeper is required to use reasonable care to keep the hallways, passageways, and stairways well lighted and free from obstructions or hazards. An innkeeper who furnishes appliances or furniture for the convenience of guests must maintain them in a reasonably safe condition. Similar duties are required in connection with plumbing apparatus and swimming pools.

Reasonable care must be exercised by an innkeeper in the operation and maintenance of an elevator, which means that the elevator must be inspected and repaired to keep it in safe condition. The obligation to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition applies to windows and screens that are defective or insecurely fastened. Failure to have protective window grills or to guard air shafts located on a roof does not, however, necessarily constitute NEGLIGENCE.

The prevalent COMMON LAW view makes an innkeeper liable as an insurer for all PERSONAL PROPERTY brought by the guest to the inn that is lost through the innkeeper's fault. There is no liability, however, if the guest assumes the entire and exclusive care, control, and possession of his or her property. State laws have been enacted with respect to the liability of innkeepers for the property of their guests. Generally the statutes modify the common law by limiting the innkeeper's liability to a specified amount and by requiring deposit of valuables. Guests must have notice of any limitations of the innkeeper's liability.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Indirect evidence to Internal Revenue CodeInnkeeper - Compensation, Liability