What is a hotel’s responsibility it medication was left behind from a former guest and my child ended up in the emergency room?

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What is a hotel’s responsibility it medication was left behind from a former guest and my child ended up in the emergency room?

I spent last night at a hotel. My 18 month old son got a methadone pill left behind off of a nightstand. I had to call poison control and 911. We had to spend 4 hours in the hospital for them to monitor him. I had to give my insurance but should the hotel pay? I notified the hotel at time of incident and received nothing for their lack of cleaning.

Asked on September 17, 2012 under Personal Injury, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The hotel might be liable for its negligence, or unreasonable carelessness, in not removing that pill left behind by a previous guest (or staff member). However, bear in mind that you could also potentially be negligent, to at least some degree, for failure to properly monitor what your child was doing. Much will depend on the exact circumstances: for example, if the pill was concealed so that an ordinary cleaning would not have found it, then the hotel is less likely to be liable (they are not expected to be perfect in cleaning--only to do a reasonable job) compared to if it was out in the open. On the other hand, if your child was playing with the pill before eating it or was left alone by you for even a brief time, that would tend to suggest liabiltiy on your part in terms of not adequately monitoring him--as opposed to if he found a pill and popped it straight away in your mouth, before you had a chance to intervene.

Given that it is therefore not certain you could hold the hotel  fully liable (since even if they are liable, if the circumstances suggest some liability on your part, that would reduce what you could recover) and the cost of litigation, unless you get stuck with a very large out of pocket cost, it's not likely worthwhile trying to hold the hotel accountable if they won't pay voluntarily.


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