When people are away on vacation or on business, they typically stay at a hotel or motel. Most times the hotels give us a key card for our room, and we hardly suspect that there could be a security breach. Unfortunately, there are security breaches at hotels across the United States.
Security breaches can lead to theft and even assaults of the guests. When it happens, is there someone responsible for the breach? The answer is yes. In many situations, the hotel or motel may be held accountable for the security breach, and guests may be entitled to compensation from the hotel.
In Pennsylvania, hotel owners can be held responsible for security breaches when they knew or should have known about the dangers or risks to their guests.
This responsibility stems from section 344 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts (1965) and comment (f) to that section, which provides:
Comment (f): Duty to police premises. Since the possessor is not an insurer of the visitor's safety, he is ordinarily under no duty to exercise any care until he knows or has reason to know that the acts of the third person are occurring, or are about to occur. He may, however, know or have reason to know, from past experience, that there is a likelihood of conduct on the part of third persons in general which is likely to endanger the safety of the visitor, even though he has no reason to expect it on the part of any particular individual. If the place or character of his business, or his past experience, is such that he should reasonably anticipate careless or criminal conduct on the part of third persons, either generally or at some particular time, he may be under a duty to take precautions against it, and to provide a reasonably sufficient number of servants to afford a reasonable protection.
In other words, hotels and motels have a legal duty to protect their guests from criminal harm caused by accidental, negligent or intentional acts of another party. However, the hotel would only be responsible if it knew or should have known about the harm. Therefore, the harm has to be foreseeable.