Call Today for a Free Consultation

630-585-2320 Se Habla Español

When it comes to providing a safe space for hotel guests in Aurora, what must a hotel do to ensure the safety of its patrons or else be held accountable through a premises liability claim? Under the Illinois Premises Liability Act (740 ILCS 130/1), property owners owe a duty of reasonable care to guests on the premises, which includes "a duty to warn of or otherwise take reasonable steps to protect such entrants from conditions on the premises that are known to the entrant, are open and obvious, or can reasonably be expected to be discovered by the entrant." In addition, the law also makes clear that property owners have a duty to warn of latent defects or dangers, as well as a duty to warn patrons about consequences of misuse of the property and to protect patrons from dangers resulting from their own misuse of the premises.

Now, you are probably considering a lot of different scenarios in which a hotel may be liable for injuries sustained by a hotel guest. Indeed, there are numerous ways in which a hotel can be held accountable for a patron's injuries on the property, from slip and fall accidents due to damaged flooring to an animal attack on the property. Yet there is a specific issue that we would like to address: liability due to inadequate security.

Understanding Inadequate Security and How it Relates to Premises Liability Law

An article in the Gaming Research & Review Journal explains that inadequate security can indeed be an issue under premises liability law. Just as property owners have a duty to protect entrants against dangers that could cause a slip and fall accident, or to warn about dangers that could result in an animal attack (such as in the recent Disney alligator attack premises liability case), hotels also have a duty to protect guests from harms resulting from inadequate security.


By now, many residents of Champaign likely have heard about the alligator attack that occurred at a Walt Disney resort and resulted in the death of a young boy. According to an article in The Washington Post, the two-year-old had been walking near a man-made lake, the Seven Seas Lagoon, near Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa when an alligator came out of the water and dragged the boy under. When animal attacks such as this one occur at a hotel or resort, can the victim file a premises liability lawsuit? As the article explains, Disney had posted signs warning visitors not to swim in the water of the lagoon, but it did not post any signs that warned against the possible presence of alligators.

Given that Disney failed to provide warnings about the area and did not take steps to remove potential hazards to guests, it may be held liable for the young boy's death under the legal theory of premises liability. While the recent attack occurred in Florida, Champaign residents should take this case seriously. Whether you are in another state on vacation or simply staying at a hotel or resort in Chicago, the Disney alligator attack can help us to understand how a similar case might move forward in Illinois. To comprehend how premises liability might apply in a case like this one, it is important to understand how premises liability law works.

Understanding Premises Liability Law

The Illinois Premises Liability Act outlines the duty owed by property owners to guests in our state. Generally speaking, the law requires property owners to use reasonable care to identify and repair any dangerous conditions that exist on their property. If they cannot repair those hazardous conditions, then the law allows property owners to warn visitors about those known dangers. In other words, a property owner must keep his or her premises free from hazardous conditions or provide adequate warnings to guests so that they can avoid those potentially harmful surroundings.


How do slip and fall accidents happen at food service locations? Liquid spills happen with some regularity at restaurants in Aurora and other food-service locations. The fact that spills happen usually does not come as a surprise to restaurant owners or their employees, given that servers carry drinks to and from tables constantly, and often very quickly. However, just because liquid spills are prevalent in the restaurant industry does not mean that workers should feel as though they are at risk of serious injuries from slips and falls. Slips and falls can also happen without liquid spills. For instance, greasy kitchen floors or uneven carpeting can quickly catch a server off-guard.

How can we prevent restaurant slips and falls? And what can injury victims do to seek compensation for injuries sustained in a serious slip and fall accident?

Same-Level Falls and Food Service Employees

When we think about injuries in fall-related accidents, many of us envision the dangers associated with falls from heights. But as a pamphlet from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety underscores, same-level falls (or, those happening on a level surface) often result in severe injuries to food service workers. The Institute conducted a study analyzing limited-service restaurants (or fast-food, as most of us know these locations) to determine why and how often slips and falls happen.


On January 23, 2016, a man was fatally shot and another stabbed outside the La Quinta De Los Reyes bar in downtown Aurora. Police arrived to a scene of approximately 100 people brawling in the street outside the bar. In situations like these, there is often a question of how much blame should be placed on the owner of the bar for the scenario that played out. Was the bar aware of past incidents with the exact patrons who started the melee? If so, did they fail to take measures to guard against the potential for violence? Did the bar overserve any of the individuals and did that lead to the violent acts and resulting death and injuries? Are bars liable for the violent and negligent acts of its patrons?

Typically, there are two causes of action that can arise when someone is injured in a bar fight, generally falling under premises or dram shop liability.Premises liability actions typically apply when a bar owner knows of customers' propensity for violence and fails to take measures to prevent or mitigate it. In the real-life scenario above, if it can be shown that the bar was aware of the dangerous nature of some of its patrons and those patrons were the ones who instigated the fight, i.e. foreseeability, they could potentially be held liable civilly under a negligent premises liability cause of action. If a bar owner takes affirmative measures to secure its premises, such as by adding security guards or security cameras, it can actually create an affirmative duty to protect its patrons from violence. Furthermore, a bar can be liable for the actions of its security guards (bouncers) when someone is injured due to the overzealous actions of the bouncer. Of course, like any property owner, a bar owner can also be liable for a dangerous condition on their property that causes injury.

A bar can also be liable for overserving its patrons which in turn causes an injury. This is known as dram shop liability. This can arise where someone is overserved and causes a car accident after leaving the bar. It can also arise where an overserved patron gets into a fight and injures someone either inside or outside of the bar. For a business or person to be liable under the Dram Shop Act 235 ILCS 5/6-21, they must be 1) licensed to sell alcoholic beverages, 2) pay for a facility knowing the facility will be used for underage drinking, or 3) own or rent property with knowledge that alcoholic beverages will be sold on the property. In dram shop cases, an injured plaintiff must show 1) the bar sold the alcohol, 2) he or she suffered an injury as a result of the action of the overserved patron, 3) a proximate cause between the sale of the alcohol and the intoxication, and 4) the intoxication is at least "a" cause of the injury. Unlike a general premises liability action against a bar, Illinois caps the damages you can receive against the bar under a dram shop theory. Since 2015, the maximum recovery for injury or death to a person is $65,511.99. For actions brought by family members for the loss of means of support or society, the maximum is $80,070.21. Also, unlike a premises liability case which has a statute of limitations of 2 years, the time limit for a dram shop case is only 1 year in Illinois.

Back to Top