Are Hotels Responsible for Theft?
The hotel may be liable for theft if it results from its negligence. Common law has long established this under the concept of innkeeper liability. The prevailing innkeeper’s liability laws hold owners responsible for the loss or theft of a guest’s property unless the property was damaged due to acts of God, public enemies, or the guest’s negligence.
If someone stole your belongings at a hotel, our attorneys can determine if the hotel is liable for theft. Call the Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato at (954) 633-8270 to learn more.
Hotels’ Liability for Theft in Florida
Even if the hotel’s negligence led to the theft, the hotel might only be liable for a limited amount of money. Under Florida Statutes § 509.111, if you give items to the hotel for safekeeping, the hotel can give you a receipt stating that it is only liable for up to $1,000.
This is regardless of the actual value of the items and only in the case of negligence. If the hotel fails to provide a receipt for your items, stating liability up to $1,000, you may be able to recover the full value of your possessions if they are stolen.
Theft of Items Inside or Outside a Hotel Room Safe
Most hotels provide in-room safes to store your valuables. They usually post signs indicating that they are not liable for theft resulting from your failure to use the safe.
Even if the hotel was liable for the theft of items inside or outside the safe, it is only responsible for reimbursing you up to $500. The law provides an exception if you file a list of items and their value with the hotel. The hotel must have the chance to inspect the items and check them against your inventory list.
After that, if someone steals your belongings, the hotel is liable for up to $1,000 if the theft resulted from the hotel’s negligence. The law is arguably antiquated on the subject of hotel liability for guests’ property. You may want to consider hiring a lawyer to handle your case if someone stole your property at a hotel.
Understanding and Proving Negligence After Theft
If you were the victim of theft at a hotel, you could be entitled to compensation for your stolen property. However, the hotel must have been negligent, and this is not always easy to prove, so many victims of hotel theft choose to hire a Fort Lauderdale hotel accident lawyer to help build their case.
A hotel in Florida is liable for theft if your case meets the following criteria:
The Hotel Owed You a Duty of Care
If you were a paying guest at the hotel, the property operator has a responsibility to keep you and your belongings reasonably safe. The law classifies paying guests as invitees. Invitees are a class of visitors to which a property owner owes a duty of care. Anyone who is on the property of the hotel for the benefit of the hotel operator is an invitee.
Hotels also owe a duty of care to a class of visitors called a licensee. These are visitors who enter the property for their own social reasons that do not benefit the hotel. If you were visiting a guest at the hotel at the time your items were stolen, the hotel may be liable for the theft.
The Hotel Breached Its Duty of Care
When the hotel fails to act with reasonable care, guests may end up hurt or their property may end up lost, damaged, or stolen. Perhaps the hotel failed to secure the office where your luggage was held or the room doors did not lock properly. It’s also possible that a hotel employee, such as a housekeeper, took your possessions. In these cases, the hotel has breached its duty of care.
The Negligent Actions Gave Rise to the Theft
The failure to exercise care must be the reason your property was stolen. For example, a broken lock would allow access to your room. Alternatively, an open office door where your luggage is stored would allow anyone to come in and take what they want at will.
You Were Left With Damages as a result of The Hotel’s Negligence
Because your property was stolen from the hotel, you have suffered financial loss. You’ll need evidence of your ownership of the stolen items. You can use receipts, invoices, confirmation emails, credit card statements, and photos of the possessions to prove your losses.
How Should Hotels Protect Guests?
Hotels and other public lodging establishments must perform certain duties in the interest of the guests and staff. Hotels operators should ensure that:
- The staff received proper training and supervision.
- The hotel has adequate security.
- The hotel has enough employees on staff.
- Doors, windows, and safes lock and close properly.
- Rooms and common areas are kept in safe and working condition.
- They make repairs to any hazardous or unsafe conditions.
- They stay apprised of any property issues.
Learn More About Hotel Liability for Guest Belongings Today
Hotels and other types of lodging businesses usually have innkeeper’s liability insurance to cover the cost of any damage, theft, or other losses that you sustained. Filing a claim for these losses could become complicated with Florida laws, especially if the hotel doesn’t believe it bears fault for the theft.
If you or someone you know suffered any sort of theft or injury at a hotel, our negligence lawyers can help you gather the evidence and hold the liable party accountable. Contact us today for a free consultation at (954) 633-8270.