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Family Files Wrongful Death Suit Against Inland Empire Hotel for Father’s Death

The family of Walter Winfield is bringing a wrongful death claim against an Island Empire hotel after Walter died from contracting a deadly illness while staying at the hotel. Last year, Walter visited the Island Empire hotel (then owned by Best Western) while on a family vacation. During his stay at the hotel, he spent time in the swimming pool and hot tub. Just weeks after the trip, Walter died from Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia.

The bacteria that caused the Legionnaires’ disease in Walter is called Legionella. According to ABC 7 News, the exact strain of Legionella found in Walter’s body was found in the hotel’s pool. The fact that makes this situation particularly tragic is that the hotel had been “repeatedly notified and warned of numerous California Health and Safety Code violations [of their pool] and that the water quality was ‘critical’ prior to Winfield’s stay.”

It appears that over the past several years, the hotel has had over 25 violations, including improper chlorine and pH levels in the pools. As it turns out, two days before Walter’s death,

“inspectors found no detectable chlorine level in the hotel pool and hot tub, ordering them drained and closed.” Walter’s family claims that the hotel created a risk by disregarding warnings and failing to properly maintain the pools—this negligence on the hotel’s part exposed their guests to serious harm, and in Walter’s case, wrongful death.

Under the law, an owner of a hotel has a legal obligation to the guests that stay on their premise. This includes a duty to use reasonable care to keep guests safe from harm on the property. This means that hotel owners must also pay attention and inspect for possible risks (like the bacteria in this case) that could hurt their guests. If a hotel owner becomes aware of a hazard, they must fix it and set up warnings—failing to do so could amount to negligence.

If you are injured in a premise liability accident, proving that the owner/operator is responsible for your injuries can be difficult. You must prove that they created the hazard that caused harm, or that they should have known about it and did not fix it. This includes fixing harms such as bacteria, like in Walter’s case, but also other physical harms in the premises such as faulty steps, wet floors, or rodent infestations. When negligence is proven, the hotel is liable for personal injury or wrongful death damages caused by their negligence.

If you or a loved one has been injured while staying at a hotel, or if you have tragically lost a loved one because of a hotel’s negligence, you should speak with an experienced premise accident attorney. A hotel, like the one in this case, should carry significant liability insurance, which will be necessary to cover personal injury or wrongful death damages. If you are facing this situation, the experienced premise injury attorneys at Walch Law are here to help. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about your rights after a premise accident and how you can pursue your premise liability accident case. You can contact us at 866-65-8792.

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