A Chicago hotel recently made headlines when several thousand people were evacuated shortly after midnight due to a gas leak. The Hyatt hotel, in suburban Chicago, had an “intentional” chlorine gas incident that sent 19 people to the hospital.

The incident happened around 12:40 a.m. A chemical odor spread across the ninth floor of the hotel. First responders found a high level of chlorine gas in the air. Everyone inside the building was evacuated and sheltered at nearby facilities. The source of the chlorine gas was powdered chlorine, which was found in a stairwell at the ninth floor. Technicians decontaminated the area, and about two hours later the building was deemed safe. People were allowed back into the building shortly after 4 a.m.

Many of the hotel’s guests were there to attend FurFest, which is a convention that celebrates anthromorphic animals and draws thousands of people. Many attendees wear animal costumes, so when the hotel was evacuated many of the guests were stuck outside in their costumes. Police are investigating the incident as a criminal matter. The organizers of FurFest, as well as the hotel, said that they would not offer refunds to anyone who was inconvenienced by the matter, since the incident was an unforeseen criminal act.

It appears that all of the people who were sent to the hospital in this incident were not seriously harmed. Unfortunately, thousands of hotel and motel guests are harmed each year in accidents. Although this accident was apparently unforeseen and probably could not have been easily prevented, many accidents in hotels are directly the responsibility of the hotel’s owner.

In California, hotel/motel owners and operators can be sued for accidents that occur on their premises as a result of their negligent conduct. It’s not uncommon for hotels and motels to fail to properly maintain their premises, which can result in accidents. Some common examples of poor maintenance that can lead to accidents by guests include: electrical problems, malfunctions by elevators, a failure to keep the floors clean and free from debris, a failure to properly maintain staircases, and poor maintenance of swimming pools.

In addition, in some cases the hotel or motel owner can be held liable for injuries to guests that occur as a result of the criminal actions of third parties. In California, the general rule is that the hotel or motel owner is not responsible for harm caused by third parties that is outside the owner’s control. However, if the criminal conduct could have been reasonably foreseen by the property owner, the property owner may be held legally responsible for the conduct. For example, if hotel guests are routinely mugged in the parking lot between the hours of midnight and four a.m., and the hotel fails to take any actions to stop it, if another mugging occurs and someone is injured, the hotel may be liable to the hotel guest. If no crimes had ever occurred on the property before, and a person was injured in a surprise criminal attack, the hotel owner will probably not be held liable.

It’s important to contact an attorney if you have been injured on the premises of a hotel or motel in California. There is a time limitation on how long you have to pursue compensation for your injuries, and if you wait too long you may lose the right to your claim. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that all hotels and motels should take extensive precautions to ensure that their premises are safe for guests. If they fail to do so, they should be held legally liable for damages.

Call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco premises liability attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000 if you have been injured in an accident at a hotel or motel. If the accident was due to the negligence of the hotel’s owner or operator, you may be entitled to damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Call to learn more about your legal options or to schedule a free consultation.

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