Resorts have a very high legal duty of care (obligation) to do everything reasonably possible to make their premises safe for all guests and to prevent resort accidents wherever and whenever possible. It is important to understand some of the basic legal terms to guide managers when they are overseeing the safety of the premises for guests and employees alike. These terms were derived from TheFreeDictionary’s legal dictionary.

Liability is a comprehensive legal term that describes the condition of being actually or potentially subject to a legal obligation.

Joint liability is an obligation for which more than one person or company is responsible.

Joint and several liability refers to the status of those who are responsible together as one unit as well as individually for their conduct. The person who has been harmed can institute a lawsuit and recover from any or all of the wrongdoers—but cannot receive double compensation, for instance, the full amount of recovery from each of two or more wrongdoers.

Negligence occurs when conduct falls below the standard of care established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. Negligence can result in all types of accidents causing physical and/or property damage, but can also include business errors and miscalculations such as a sloppy land survey.

Premises can include land and the improvements on it including, a building, store, shop, apartment, or other designated structure. The exact premises may be important in determining if an outbuilding (shed, cabana, detached garage) is insured or whether a person accused of burglary has actually entered a structure. In a legal pleading, premises means “all that has hereinabove been stated”. This could include the resort’s airport shuttle bus, the resort parking lot, all common areas, meeting and banquet halls, swimming pools, guest rooms, and other areas where guests are free to move about.

The terms reasonable and foreseeable are two of the factors in determining liability. Guests are invitees and entitled to protection from all reasonably foreseeable harm. Although a resort has a legal duty of care to protect one from harm, it doesn’t extend to all harm. The duty is to protect from harm that could reasonably happen.

A foreseeable harm is one that a sensible resort manager knows or should know could occur due to the resort’s actions or omissions. When a resort’s act or omission results in a guest’s injury, the courts consider it as the resort’s negligence.

For example, a knowledgeable resort manager understands, or should understand, that leaving ice to accumulate outside the resort’s entrance in winter could result in a guest slipping and falling. The harm is foreseeable. Consequently, the resort manager’s failure to have the ice removed is a breach (violation) of his/her duty of care to the guest who falls.

Alternatively, let’s say the manager had all of the ice at the resort’s entrance removed. A resort guest returning from dinner where he consumed an entire bottle of wine, trips and falls on a rubber mat outside the resort resulting in injury. The guest’s voluntary intoxication makes his slipping and falling unforeseeable.

The resort manager has a duty to protect his/her guests from reasonably foreseeable incidents that might result in harm to them. It isn’t reasonable for a resort manager to protect a guest from injuries resulting from the guest’s voluntary intoxication.

(Please note that this information is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal professional.)

Armstrong Timeshare Association (License #0I72697)