Earlier this month, an appellate court in Kentucky issued a written opinion in a premises liability case involving a man who slipped and fell while trying to get into the shower at the defendant hotel. In the case, Goodwin v. Al J. Schneider, the court held that the lower court erred in dismissing the plaintiff’s claim for his own failure to take reasonable precautions in entering the shower. Specifically, the state’s high court held that the lower courts mistakenly determined that the defendant did not have a duty to protect Goodwin.
Goodwin and his wife were staying at the defendant hotel for a conference. On the second day of his stay, Goodwin fell while he was entering the shower. Evidence presented at trial showed that the bathroom did have a hand rail to assist guests in entering the shower, but it did not have a bath mat. However, other rooms in the hotel had both a bath mat and a hand rail. Goodwin filed a premises liability lawsuit against the hotel, seeking compensation for the injuries he sustained in the fall. He claimed that the hotel should have provided additional protection and that the hotel’s failure to do so was negligent.
The trial court hearing the case granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgement, stating that the hotel did not have a duty to provide bath mats in all rooms and that the hotel is not “an insurer of a guest’s safety.” The court reasoned that a wet shower is an “open and obvious” hazard, and the defendant did not have a duty to remedy the hazard. The court of appeals affirmed.
On appeal to the state’s highest court, the case was reversed. The court explained that landowners always have a duty to protect guests they invite onto their land. This is the case whether the hazard at issue is “open and obvious” or hidden. The relevant question that the lower court should have asked was whether the defendant breached that duty.
Since the lower courts incorrectly assumed that the hotel did not have a duty to protect guests, the case was sent back down for further analysis on whether the defendant breached the duty it owed to Goodwin. Goodwin’s case is far from over, but this most recent ruling moves the case one step closer to a favorable verdict or settlement.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled attorneys at the personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of experience assisting their clients with seeking the compensation they deserve in a wide array of personal injury cases. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up your free consultation.
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