Something Was Stolen From My Hotel Room—Who’s Liable?

Something Was Stolen From My Hotel Room—Who’s Liable?

Imagine you are on the road and decide to spend the night at a hotel. You check in, carry your stuff to your room, and get settled. Over the course of the night and the next morning, you are in and out of the room—checking out the pool, exercise room, and breakfast. When you gather your things to leave, you realize your laptop is missing. After further investigation, it becomes clear it was stolen. 

While we all hope this nightmare scenario never happens, it is good to be prepared and understand the law regarding such an issue. More specifically, if something is stolen from your hotel room, who is liable?

While there is no easy answer to that question and there are a thousand different factors that could produce a thousand different answers—which state you are in, whether or not there is clear signage noting the hotel’s liability and policy, whether or not there is a safe—there are several general rules that can help determine liability when something is stolen from your hotel room.

Innkeepers Laws

Just about every state in the country has what are known as Innkeepers Laws. Innkeepers laws govern a range of issues related to hotels and the entire hospitality industry. For example, innkeepers laws cover things like:

  • Evictions
  • Overbooking
  • Security

Innkeepers laws also cover the issue of liability when something is stolen. Because dollar amounts and exact verbiage of the laws vary from state to state, it is important to understand the rules in each state to which you travel. 

By way of example, consider the innkeepers laws in the state of Massachusetts. In the Bay State, a hotel is only liable for up to $300 of lost property for things like luggage, clothing, and money. However, if you deposit money or jewelry to be watched by the hotel, their liability goes up to $1000.

Other states might have rules about safes in the room and signage stating the hotel’s policy and liability limit. For example, if one of your valuables is stolen and you hadn’t put it in the safe then the hotel might not be liable. 

Also, generally speaking, hotels are not at fault if your loss of property is the result of an act of nature such as a hurricane or earthquake, or if it is the result of civil unrest such as a protest or riot. 

Tips for Keeping Your Stuff Safe While Traveling

For the most part, innkeepers laws tend to favor hotels and inns. For that reason, it is important you educate yourself before you hit the road. You will want to make sure you read the hotel’s policy on items that are stolen and what you have to do to make sure your valuables are protected. 

If a hotel room you are staying in has a safe, you might want to consider placing your valuable items inside of it whenever you are not in the room. 

One other option that might be a good idea is traveler’s insurance. Most traveler’s insurance policies cover items that are stolen from a hotel room. Of course, the amount covered depends on the policy so you will want to make sure you get a policy that meets your needs.

Finally, if something was stolen from your room and you feel the hotel is responsible but they are stonewalling you, you may want to consider contacting a personal injury lawyer. A good lawyer will be able to investigate your case and determine whether or not the hotel should pay up. 

Of course, not every item that is stolen will warrant legal action. But if you have had something truly valuable stolen from your hotel room, there might be steps you can take to seek justice.

How Much Damage Occurs in a 30 MPH Crash?

How Much Damage Occurs in a 30 MPH Crash?

How fast is too fast to drive? Speed limits are designed to reduce the risk of accidents. The limits are based on numerous factors and calculations that determine the maximum safe speed for a given stretch of road. 

Speeding is a leading cause of car accidents. During 2017, speed was a contributing factor in about one-fourth of all fatal traffic accidents. As a driver increases the speed of the vehicle, several factors come into play:

  • The risk of an accident increases
  • It takes longer for the vehicle to stop
  • There is an increase in the severity of the crash and crash injuries
  • Occupant protection equipment is not as effective 

While there is a great deal of focus placed on excessive speeds, crashes occurring at just 30 mph can result in considerable damage, traumatic injuries, and loss of life.

What Happens During a Collision?

When a vehicle collides with another vehicle or object, the vehicle absorbs some of the energy from the impact and slows down as a result. Simultaneously, its frame may crumble and be crushed because of the force of the impact.

Even in a 30 mph crash, a vehicle can sustain substantial damage to the frame and other components. The amount of damage to the vehicle also depends on other factors such as:

  • The age, model, and condition of the vehicle
  • The type of vehicle or object struck
  • Whether the driver applied the brakes before the collision
  • The speed of the other vehicle
  • The type of crash that occurred (i.e., head-on collision, sideswipe, rear-end accident, side-impact, etc.)

When accident reconstructionists investigate a crash, they consider the vehicle’s speed and all other factors when examining the vehicle’s level of damage.

Impact on the Vehicle’s Occupants

At the time of the crash, the people in the car continue moving at the same speed the vehicle was traveling until they are stopped for an external force. The external force could be the seatbelt or airbags. It could also be hitting the dashboard, window, or the back of a seat. 

Wearing a seatbelt is the best way to protect yourself in a crash. The seat belt absorbs much of the energy that your body would absorb if it were thrown into the dashboard or another object within the vehicle. By absorbing some of the energy from the crash, the seatbelt helps reduce the severity of injuries or prevent them altogether.

Impact on Internal Organs

Some sources refer to this stage of a car wreck as the internal collision. Even though a passenger is wearing a seatbelt and the seatbelt stops the person’s body from moving forward, the person’s internal organs remain in motion until they strike bones or other internal organs.

For example, traumatic brain injury can occur even though the occupant did not hit their head during the crash. The sudden stop in forward motion causes the brain to strike the skull, which can cause contusions, bleeding, tears, and other damage to the brain. Brain damage can result in permanent disabilities and impairments. 

A 30 mph crash has the potential of causing traumatic organ damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and other organs. 

Filing Personal Injury Claims for a Low-Speed Car Accident 

Car accidents that occur at lower speeds can still result in significant injuries and damages. However, many insurance providers downplay low-speed car accidents by claiming that the lower speeds reduce the severity of injuries. However, there are many studies and sources that contradict those allegations.

It is best to see a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident, regardless of the severity of the crash or whether you believe you sustained injuries. Internal organ damage, whiplash, brain injuries, and other types of injuries may be difficult to recognize without medical treatment.

Furthermore, documenting your injuries with medical records immediately after the accident makes it more difficult for the other party to argue that the crash did not cause your injuries. 

Your doctor may tell you to rest and report any changes in your condition. Even so, you have a record of the symptoms you experienced after the crash in case your condition worsens, or you discover an injury that was not known immediately after the accident.

Do Not Give In or Give Up 

Do not give up the pursuit of your personal injury claim if you sustained injuries in the crash. If the other driver and the insurance company continue to deny your injury claim, seek assistance from an injury lawyer. Make sure you know your legal rights and take steps to protect your best interests. 

Is It Legal To Drive With A Pet In Your Lap In California?

Is It Legal To Drive With A Pet In Your Lap In California?

We see it all the time. A cute little dog riding on an owner’s lap, its head out the window, while the owner is driving. We may think it is cute, but it can be dangerous as well. California has no specific law prohibiting the practice. However, having a dog on your lap while driving can cause conditions that may make it dangerous or illegal to drive.

What California Law Says About Pets Traveling in Cars

California law states that a pet may be unrestrained within an enclosed vehicle. That means it does not need to be crated or restrained with a pet seat belt inside a car. Beyond this basic law, however, a driver should make sure that their pet is safe within the vehicle and must make sure that it is safe to drive with the pet in the vehicle.  

Note that a pet must be restrained when riding in an unenclosed space such as a flat-bed truck. This makes sense and is safer for the pet involved. This means that a pet must be crated, and the crate secured when the pet is riding in the back of a pickup.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is prohibited in California. Distracted driving in California is more than just texting or using a cell phone while driving. Any activity which distracts the driver from paying attention to the road and which may cause the driver to either lose control of the vehicle or cause an accident is considered to be “distracted driving” in California.

California is cracking down on distracted driving. The California High Patrol is giving out more citations for distracted driving practices including eating, applying makeup, and the like. A pet in the lap of a driver could well earn the driver a citation for distracted driving.  

A pet can be a distraction in a car. This is especially true when the pet rides on the driver’s lap while driving. The owner may pet the dog and may look down at the pet instead of keeping their eyes on the road. If the pet barks suddenly near the driver’s ear, the driver could be startled and lose control of the car.

In California, if an accident occurs because of distracted driving, the driver can also be cited for reckless driving or driving too fast for the conditions. This increases the fines involved. A distracted driving ticket for a first offense can run upwards of $100 for a first offense once fees and surcharges are added.

A new law, AB 47 goes into effect in July 2021. The new law will increase penalties for distracted driving. More importantly, the bill will enable a point to be added to a driving record with each infraction. With enough points, a person may lose their driving privilege in California.

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in California. It is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to $1000 in fines.

Distracted Driving and Negligence

Distracted driving is at the bottom of many California car accidents. In 2018 alone, 2481 people in the U.S. died in car accidents due to distracted driving. Driving with a pet on the driver’s lap opens a driver to a lawsuit for negligence if an accident results. We all owe a duty of reasonable care to pedestrians and other drivers when we are driving. This duty of reasonable care is arguably breached when a driver is distracted and gets into an accident.

Pet Injuries

Another possible consequence of driving with a pet on a driver’s lap concerns injuries to the pet if an accident takes place. When a collision occurs, the weight and force of movement of the driver’s torso against the interior of the vehicle is tremendous. It can result in injuries or death to an animal located on the driver’s lap.

Likewise, airbags can cause severe injuries or death for an animal in the front seat.  This is why most pet harnessing systems are designed for use in the rear seat of a vehicle. Driving with a pet in your lap is not only dangerous for you, but also for your pet.

Animal Cruelty and Pets in Cars

Most animal cruelty charges brought with regard to pets in cars have to do with pets who are injured or die in hot cars. Charges may be brought against the owner for injuries or death to a pet that occurred because of an owner’s reckless behavior. Fines are substantial if convicted and an owner may lose their ability to own another pet.

Make Smart Choices When Driving With Pets in the Car

Sometimes, what seems like benign behavior can open doors to unintended consequences. Always take care to ensure your pet’s safety in your car. By doing so, you can ensure not only your own safety but the safety of others on the road. If you have questions regarding distracted driving or the culpability in a vehicular accident, make sure to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.