Best Western markets itself as a purveyor of unique travel experiences, all with a reliable standard of family-friendly comfort and quality. Unfortunately, a lot of Best Western visits fall far short of this promise, sometimes tragically so.

Below, we’ll go over some of the most common reasons you might need to sue Best Western, and how the law and skilled counsel can help you. If at any point you’d prefer to discuss the details of your case directly with a lawyer who handles motel negligence cases in the Atlanta area, feel free to reach out by phone or chat.

Best Western Hotels Have Been Caught with Serious, Sometimes Deadly Code Violations

Property owners have a responsibility to keep an eye out for hazards that could harm their guests, and to do what they can to minimize the danger. Sometimes, serious safety hazards can be difficult to spot until something goes wrong, so it’s possible for well-meaning but underqualified motel owners to negligently endanger their guests by mistake.

Other times, however, the hazard is so obvious, so well-documented, so thoroughly proven to be dangerous, it can be hard to accept that anyone would continue exposing guests to it. Yet, it happens.

In February of this year, a Best Western in Watertown, New York was partially condemned for some fairly shocking code violations, including bad wiring. Electrical issues are often an invisible hazard, contained within a building’s walls, but in this case, a fire chief found electrical switches mounted on burnt plywood, with multiple wires fused together behind them. The jury-rigged setup had already started one fire, in November of 2022, before the area was closed off.

Five years earlier, a man fell ill and died shortly after staying at a Best Western in Ontario, California. His sudden illness was traced to a strain of Legionnaires’ disease found in the hotel’s pool and hot tub facilities. According to the family’s subsequent wrongful death suit, the hotel had been cited 25 times in under four years for water quality issues. After the man’s illness emerged, inspectors checked the pool and found it had no detectible chlorine in it at all.

A further five years before that, a carbon monoxide leak killed three people and seriously injured at least one more at a Best Western in Boone, North Carolina. As if the poisonings themselves weren’t bad enough, the most disturbing detail is that they occurred over the course of six weeks, first affecting a couple, and then a mother and her 11-year-old son who were staying in the same room. The mother was the sole survivor. It was only after the second incident that the leak was identified, and CO detectors installed.

Both families sued and received wrongful death settlements.

If a Best Western has also placed you or your family in the path of a preventable accident that caused you harm, you’re entitled to compensation.

Best Western Guests Have Repeatedly Ended Up Fleeing Fast-Spreading Attic Fires

A lot of modern hotel fires follow a very similar pattern. The ignition source varies, from electrical problems to cigarettes and even lightning strikes, but once a fire has taken hold, it very often climbs the inside of one of the walls, reaches the attic, and expands across the top of the entire building from there.

This is partly because heat rises, and partly because the latest fire codes require motels to have sprinkler systems on every floor, but not in the attic, leaving an easy highway for the flames to spread.

Best Western has had two serious fires follow this exact course within the last year, one in Somerset, Kentucky, and one in Clarksville, Indiana.

In the Somerset incident, one of the families staying in the hotel was there because another fire had just destroyed their own home. They lost everything they owned for the second time.

In Clarkesville, one guest reported that the fire spread very quickly across the attic, starting from a small amount of smoke, and that she and her sister hurried to knock on doors to warn people to get out. The fire chief did report that there were smoke alarms going off by the time emergency crews arrived. He also noted, however, that the building was old and might predate modern codes. It seems the spread of the flames may have been particularly severe, even compared with other attic fires.

Motel owners have a duty to follow fire and building codes, but there’s nothing to stop them from exceeding these standards if they see a reason to. In fact, a property owner’s duty to try to stop foreseeable accidents exists even when there’s no specific code available to outline the appropriate precautions.

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one to a Best Western fire, there’s a good chance that Best Western has had the chance to observe multiple other fires much like yours, and chosen not to adjust its fire safety standards accordingly.

Best Western Owes Guests Protection from Predictable Gun Violence

Just like fires, carbon monoxide, and pool accidents, gun violence poses a known threat to the safety of hotel guests. Unlike those other threats, there’s no firm rulebook — not even an inadequate one — outlining what a motel must do to protect its guests from violence, beyond the bare basics of providing locks on guestroom doors.

There are, however, plenty of proven techniques for reducing the risk of gun violence in motels, including:

  • Keeping common areas well-lit and under obvious video surveillance
  • Requiring identification on check-in
  • Physically restricting access to the property to key-carrying guests and staff
  • Employing trained security guards
  • Banning and reporting guests who behave aggressively or handle guns irresponsibly

When the history of a particular motel or its surrounding area indicates a significant risk of gun violence, the management has a responsibility to invest in an appropriate level of security.

A lot of Best Western locations do have a history of gun violence. Within the last year alone, Best Westerns have been the site of:

The Dover incident also mirrors a similar drug deal gone wrong from a couple years ago, here in Georgia. That one happened in the parking lot of a Best Western in Macon.

In each of these cases, there’s a strong possibility that the motel’s management already knew that crime was common on or around the property, but chose not to invest in better security. Even if the properties were previously peaceful, just one incident should be enough to prompt a motel to improve security going forward. Motels that refuse to do this are liable for the future incidents they allow.

Hotels That Enable Sex Trafficking Are Liable for the Harm Done to the Victims

The issue of sex trafficking in hotels is ancient, and knowingly profiting off of coerced commercial sex in any way has been illegal under U.S federal law since 2008. The practice of actually holding hospitality companies accountable in court for their participation in sex trafficking is sadly new, however, with the first big wave of precedent-setting lawsuits starting in the late 2010s.

Thankfully, the law is clear both in word and, now, in application. Companies that help sex trafficking are sex traffickers, and fully liable for the consequences of the crimes they enable.

Best Western was named among the defendants in several of those early suits, including one in Ohio involving 12 different women, one in Florida involving two women, and one in Texas, involving a woman who reported being continuously trafficked for 16 years starting when she was just four years old.

The accusations against the hotel staff ranged from ignoring warning signs, such as women wandering the halls in revealing clothes while on heroin, to taking an active role in delivering small children to waiting johns.

Most of the events detailed in those complaints took place between the early 2000s and mid-2010s, but there’s good reason to believe that Best Western has still not eliminated sex trafficking from its day-to-day business operations.

Just this year, police have arrested two separate suspected sex traffickers, for allegedly selling victims out of Best Western hotel rooms, one in Queens, New York, and one in Hartland, Michigan. The victim in Queens was 14 years old.

If you are a survivor of sex trafficking in a Best Western, you’re entitled to compensation for what you went through, and financial support for the process of rebuilding your life. In many cases, you may even be able to pursue that compensation anonymously.

What to Do If You’ve Been Injured or Lost a Loved One at a Best Western

In the immediate aftermath of a serious accident or crime, you will probably feel overwhelmed by all the steps that you think, or that people tell you, must be done right now. As much as possible, try to focus on these essential priorities, in order:

  1. Your health and safety, and the health and safety of your loved ones — This means removing yourself from any unsafe situations, seeking medical care immediately, and following through on the recommendations of your healthcare providers.
  2. Establishing a record of events — This includes briefly notifying the Best Western of the incident and preserving any documentation you can, including correspondence about work or leisure activities you’re missing as a result of what happened. Seeking prompt medical care serves this priority too, by creating a verifiable timeline of your physical injuries and the cost of treating them. Pictures of the incident site are also helpful, but you should not put yourself at further risk to get them.
  3. Avoiding getting drawn into discussion or negotiation — Although notifying Best Western of an incident can help prevent the company from denying all knowledge later, it’s important not to let anyone pressure you into recording a statement or accepting a deal. Remember, once a company realizes that you may be considering a legitimate lawsuit, its objective will be to weaken your case however it can, not help you.
  4. Finding a qualified attorney — Last but not least, the sooner you begin working with a lawyer who has experience in cases like yours, the higher your chances of a fair, comprehensive settlement.

Pursuing hotel/motel liability cases requires an understanding of several overlapping areas of law. The Stoddard Firm has extensive experience in the ins and outs of “innkeeper” laws, which give hospitality companies some extra protection against liability, as well as franchise law, which often insulates big brands like Best Western against liability for what happens in their regionally licensed locations. We’re experts in personal injury, wrongful death, premises liability, and sex trafficking law.

Whatever it is that happened to you at a Best Western, we’ll help you take stock of exactly what it cost you and figure out what a fair settlement would look like. We’ll get to the bottom of what exactly Best Western could have done to protect you, and what knowledge they had of the danger in advance. Most importantly, we’ll fight to get you the best possible outcome, while making the process as smooth and stress-free for you as we can.

To get started, reach out at 678-RESULTS or through our online chat function for a free consultation on your case.

Attorney Matt Stoddard

Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Matt StoddardMatt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]

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