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

UPDATED: Sep 17, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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