How best to handle an hotel chain’s insurance company regarding damages for an injury that my disabled son incurred?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How best to handle an hotel chain’s insurance company regarding damages for an injury that my disabled son incurred?

Last week, I was giving my special needs son a shower while staying at a high end hotel chain. As he was holding onto the one safety bar, he slipped. As he was falling, I was trying to catch him (he’s 25 years old and 145 lbs) and the shower soap dish came out of wall with 2 rusty screws and black mold. The screws scratched 1/2 down his back then impaled him in his lower back by his upper bottom. The force ripped out his lower back hair by the root and flesh. Plus, there was bleeding and a bloody hematoma. We were both traumatized. My son never cries but this had him screaming. I called EMS and we went to the hospital where he got a Tetanus shot. When we got home we had X-rays taken, fortunately they are OK. He’s still very sore and quiet and is now scared to take a shower. How do I navigate the hotel’s insurer when they call me? What’s the fair thing to do for my son?

Asked on October 5, 2018 under Personal Injury, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are not legally entitled to anything as a practical matter, so while you should describe your son's special needs, his injuries, his trauma, etc. and try to play on their sympathy to get as much as you can, you need to bear in mind that you don't really have any leverage for two reasons:
1) If you son is 125 pounds--and you presumably weigh at least that much--that is far more than a soap dish is meant to support. There is no fault or negligence in not having a soap dish that would hold up having your son, or you, or both, put weight on it as you are falling, since soap dishes are meant to hold soap or shampoo, not people, and are not meant to be to be safety devices or grab bars. Therefore, they would not be liable, since they did nothing wrong--they are not required to have soap dishes that could support what happened.
2) Even if you could somehow hold them liable, since your son is ok, you could only recover for your out-of-pocket medical costs, and the lawsuit would cost far more than that. There is  no recovery for your son being afraid of showers because a) that is not a reasonably foreseeable effect or consequence of a soap dish coming lose from a wall, and people/businesses are only liable for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of acts or omissions; and b) generally, there is no compenation for fear, stress, mental trauma, etc. except in cases of far more violent incidents or deliberate attempts to terrify or cause mental harm.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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