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Hotel liable for death of guest who fell from window

LC
BY Lee Craig
Health & Safety

The guest fell to his death while staying in a second-floor room at the White Hart Hotel in Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire, following a wedding. The guest fell when he returned to his room and opened the sash window.  A fault meant that he had to hold the lower sash for it to stay open.  He fell while sitting on the windowsill.  Investigators found that the windowsill was only 46cm above floor level.

The widow of the deceased made a civil claim for damages against the partnership running the hotel under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957. This claim was made subject to a 60% reduction for contributory negligence on behalf of the deceased.

 

'The judge concluded that the hotel had a duty to the deceased who was a lawful visitor to the hotel, and that there was a foreseeable risk of serious injury due to the state of the premise and claimed that preventive measures to rectify the risk would only have cost around £8 per window.  The judge said that the risk was not just foreseeable, it was also one that was likely to occur as part of any guest’s normal use of the room – opening the window.

 

The existence of the reasonably foreseeable risk was the main grounds for the criminal conviction under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

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