When you go to the Jersey Shore for vacation, more likely than not, you are going for more than a day trip. As a result, many vacationers like yourself, stay at a hotel or motel. The hotel room becomes your home for the duration of your vacation and is your sanctuary while you sleep. If you are like most people, you want to stay at a hotel that is safe and secure. How do you ensure that the hotel is secure? You have to do some research about the hotel because hotels and motels do not have to guarantee safety of guests and invitees.
So what do the hotels and motels have to do? Under New Jersey law, innkeepers are simply required to take reasonable steps to prevent accidents and injuries to persons who are lawfully on their property. This is the case in security or negligent security situations. Assaults, sexual assaults, robberies and other physical attacks may be caused by inadequate security, improper lighting or design of the building or other such inadequate conditions of the premises.
If criminal activity is foreseeable, the innkeeper must take reasonable steps to make its premises safe for guests. If innkeepers do not do that, they can be responsible for injuries their guests sustain as a result of an assault by a third party on the premises, and even in a guest room. In a New Jersey case, a guest of a resort was sexually assaulted in her room by a former employee of the resort. On the evening of the attack, the former employee was seen on the premises by security guards. The resort knew that this former employee was bitter about being fired. The security guards tried to find the former employee but were unsuccessful. Furthermore, several weeks before the attack, two other disgruntled former employees broke into guest rooms to steal a number of things. In a situation like this the resort can be found responsible for the guest’s injuries from the sexual assault because the criminal activity was foreseeable. The Resort knew about the prior criminal activities because of disgruntled former employees. Grossman v. Club Med Sales, 273 N.J. Super. 42 (1994).
With the above in mind, as the traveler, you must be security conscious and ask questions such as:
Being informed and prepared is the only way you can ensure peace of mind.