Personal Injury Cases Resulting from Hotel Fires

Premises liability laws require hotel owners to keep hotel premises in a reasonably safe condition.   Hotel owners and business managers must warn guests of any hazards when they create a dangerous burn or fire injury situation on hotel premises, or allow an unsafe condition to persist.

During a hotel fire, a guest can try to prevent injuries by remaining in the room or going back to the room if in the hallway or other hotel area.   Do not panic.   Panic is sudden, overpowering fear.   It will make you lost, disoriented, or unaware of what to do. Panic is almost irreversible: once it takes over, it will make you do things that can leave you dead. If you are prepared on what to do, where to go, and how to get there in a fire, panic will not set in.

When struck with a hotel fire, prevent death and burn injuries by keeping the hotel room door closed and taking these safety steps.

  • Prevent smoke from entering the room by using tape to seal around the windows, vents, door, and receptacles.     Dampen towels and sheets in the tub or sink, and stuff them into open spaces if tape is unavailable.   If there is smoke, there is not necessarily fire. Smoke, when warmer, will accumulate at the ceiling and work its way down. Smoke may irritate the eyes, making the eyes want to close. The fresh air to breathe is at or near the floor. Get on the hands and knees.
  • If a phone is working, call the fire fighters to give them the room number.   Most hotels will not call the Fire Department until they have verified whether or not there really is a fire and tried to put it out themselves. Should you call the reception to report a fire, they will send someone to investigate. Hotels are very reluctant to “disturb” their guests with fire engines in the streets.
  • Fill the tub or sink with water. Turn on the bathroom vent fan to clear smoke.
  • Open the window to let out smoke and then close it. Break the window only if the room has been invaded by smoke and air is required to survive. Cover the face with a damp cloth to help in breathing.
  • Do not jump out of a room.   Most are killed or injured in the process of jumping, unless on the first floor.   If you are any higher than the third floor, the probability is you won’t survive the fall. Nearby buildings seem closer than they actually are and people have died trying to jump to a building that looked a few feet away.

A hotel owner’s duty to prevent injuries to guests may include making hotel occupancy safe by having emergency phone numbers and other important information on fire tips posted close to a hotel room phone or in a hotel room.   There may be an emergency escape plan like marked exits in a hallway.   A room should have written details in a guest binder on emergency procedures.

If you've been seriously injured or have a family member who has been severely burned, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.

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