There are over a thousand Days Inns all across the United States, and if you’ve had a pleasant stay in one, you might assume that the same experience can be found under that sunny brand logo wherever in the country you go.
Unfortunately, the actual quality of Days Inns seems to vary a lot from one location to another.
And, while some bad motel stays might just consist of lumpy beds, poor climate control, and a decision never to return, others can result in life-changing traumas that require compensation.
Below, we’ll go into detail on some of the most likely reasons you might need to sue a Days Inn, and some of the obstacles you may face. If at any time you would prefer to speak directly with a Georgia lawyer who handles motel premises cases, feel free to reach out by phone or chat.
Days Inn Has a Particularly Troubled Pool Safety Record
Swimming pools are an attractive and traditional amenity for motels. They can also be extremely dangerous if not properly maintained and controlled. Without a lifeguard or spotter, even experienced swimmers can sometimes find themselves in life-threatening trouble in pools, due to sudden injury or illness.
The greatest risk, however, is to young children. Legally, outdoor pools must be fully enclosed in tall, climbing-resistant fences with self-closing gates, specifically to prevent children from accessing them without adult supervision. Most motels comply with this requirement, at least at first, though keeping fences in good condition over time and preventing gates from being propped open is another matter.
Even one pool drowning is too many, but Days Inns in particular have had an alarming number in recent years.
- In 2016, a father and his 10-year-old son both drowned in a Days Inn swimming pool in Washington, North Carolina. Paramedics were briefly able to get a pulse back for the father but could not ultimately save either of them.
- The next year, a 6-year-old girl was found at the bottom of a Days Inn swimming pool in Eagle River, Wisconsin. She was visiting the motel for a birthday party at the time. Paramedics were not able to revive her.
- The year after that, roughly the same thing happened to a 7-year-old girl at a Days Inn in Brookings, South Dakota. She was also discovered unresponsive in the pool and later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
- In 2020, an employee of a Days Inn in Bend, Oregon called 911 after finding a 60-year-old woman unresponsive in the pool. She also did not survive.
- The most recent Days Inn drowning was right here in Georgia, in June of 2023. It happened at the Brunswick location on Warren Mason Boulevard. The victim was just four years old. Like the others, she received CPR on site, starting shortly after she was found, but was ultimately pronounced dead after transport to a medical facility.
So many incidents under a single brand point to a possible lack of safety-oriented architecture, training, policies, and/or signage. They also establish a pattern that the company has a duty to recognize and respond to, by paying closer attention to pool safety in the future.
Motels Like Days Inn Have a Duty to Anticipate and Address Dangers to Their Guests
A company’s duty to protect visitors from known threats isn’t limited to swimming pool safety. The same principle applies to all types of predictable, preventable dangers.
Successfully suing a motel like Days Inn for premises liability often comes down to proving that the motel knew (or should have known) that its guests were in danger, and that there were reasonable steps it could have taken to protect them, but didn’t.
Sometimes the concept of “reasonable steps” can be fairly subjective. For example, when the Days Inn in Kittery, Maine burned down last May, a guest was killed. The inn was not equipped with emergency sprinklers.
Fire is always a predictable danger in a motel, and sprinkler systems are an effective way of protecting against that danger. So, on the one hand, it could be argued that the motel was not doing all it could to keep guests safe. On the other hand, the motel was built before the building code required sprinklers. Going above and beyond applicable legal requirements to retrofit a 60-year-old building with a sprinkler system might not fall within what a court would consider reasonable.
However, if the motel neglected other, less invasive fire safety measures, such as keeping functioning smoke detectors in every room to help guests evacuate, it might still be liable for that man’s death.
Anticipating Dangers Means Anticipating Criminal Violence, Too
When it comes to crime, motels and other businesses often claim that they have no way of predicting other people’s behavior, or no power to stop determined, armed criminals from harming their guests.
The truth is, crime usually follows predictable patterns, and there are plenty of reasonable steps businesses can take that are proven to affect those patterns. For motels, a combination of good lighting, security cameras in common areas, guards, and identification requirements for check-in make all the difference.
When a motel fails to prioritize security, not only does it expose its guests to whatever threat of crime may be present in the area, it can actually become a source of crime in that area.
This phenomenon is so common that many cities will file nuisance lawsuits against local motels with high crime rates, demanding that they institute these security measures. Motels that do not comply may be shut down, either temporarily or permanently. Within the last five years, this has happened to Days Inns in Michigan and Ohio.
Multiple Days Inns Have Been Accused of Knowingly Participating in Sex Trafficking
When a motel becomes a crime hotspot, it’s not always a simple matter of management being inattentive or neglectful. Sometimes, it happens because the motel is actively harboring a criminal industry, typically sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking obviously does immeasurable, irreparable harm to the victims who are sexually exploited for the profit of others. It also tends to be accompanied by other forms of crime, including drug trafficking and high levels of gun violence, which make the property unsafe for other guests who may have no knowledge of the sex trafficking itself.
Motels that knowingly harbor sex trafficking are liable for the harm this practice causes, and two Days Inns have been sued in Georgia recently for exactly this reason.
The first suit, brought by an anonymous woman against the Days Inn in Morrow in 2019, alleges that the front desk manager not only knew she was being trafficked, but offered her trafficker a discount in exchange for sex with her. By the time the suit was filed, the city of Morrow had already shut down the inn for its high volume of 911 calls and complaints, including other signs of human trafficking.
The second suit, filed against the Marietta Days Inn in 2020, contained similar allegations that the employees had helped traffickers by assigning them rooms in the least visible parts of the motel and acting as lookouts. Before the suit, there had been multiple rounds of arrests for human trafficking at the location.
This issue extends outside of Georgia as well. The Days Inn in Elyria, Ohio was also forcibly shut down in 2020 for, among other things, failure to comply with basic anti-human trafficking best practices.
Just this year, another Days Inn, this one in Philadelphia, was ordered to pay a total of $24 million to eight women who had reported being sex trafficked there while underage. This same location had also been sued a decade earlier, after two other underage girls, brought there by two unrelated traffickers, were rescued in a police raid.
In short, if you’ve been sexually exploited in a Days Inn, you are far from alone. There’s plenty of precedent to support your right to compensation.
Days Inn’s Franchise Agreements Make Lawsuits Challenging, but Not Impossible
Although the Days Inn brand belongs Wyndham (the same hospitality giant that owns Super 8, Howard Johnson, Ramada, and Travelodge), individual Days Inn locations are typically franchised, rather than operated by Wyndham.
What this means is that a smaller company or individual legally owns the inn, but receives branding materials and some instructions from Wyndham. Wyndham may or may not perform inspections to make sure the location is following these instructions and maintaining standards the corporation approves of.
The question of whether Wyndham is liable for what happens on the premises of a Days Inn depends on how much control the company exerts over the location, and whether that control made circumstances better or worse for the victim.
For example, if Wyndham provided no instructions at all on how to keep the property safe from accidents and violence, or it provided good instructions but never followed up, the local owner might be responsible for any safety failings. If, on the other hand, Wyndham forced the location to take down helpful cameras or fences for aesthetic reasons, Wyndham itself would be liable for the results.
Obviously, Wyndham is in a better position to pay for a settlement than its local franchisees. So, if you’ve been harmed at a franchised Days Inn, your lawyer will need to look closely at the location’s official contract with Wyndham, as well as the actual history of contact between Wyndham and the franchise owner.
Even if it turns out that Wyndham is well-insulated from liability in your case, however, that doesn’t necessary mean you’re out of luck. Not all franchise owners operate on small budgets, and those that do may have liability insurance to cover incidents like yours.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured or Lost a Loved One at a Days Inn
Your first steps will vary, depending on the type of incident you’ve fallen victim to. As long as there’s ongoing danger, such as a fire or an active shooter, your priority is to avoid further injury and get to safety.
If you’ve been harmed in a short-lived accident, such as a fall or an electric shock, on the other hand, you may have time to take pictures and briefly notify the staff, in order to establish a record of the event.
Once you’re safe, the process for seeking justice and a full recovery is much the same, regardless of exactly how you were hurt:
- Have any physical injuries examined and treated properly. Keep all recommended follow-up medical appointments.
- Hold on to any evidence that does come into your possession, including a full record of your related expenses.
- Consider whether you would welcome mental health care services to support your healing process as well.
- Avoid communicating in detail with representatives of Wyndham, the specific Days Inn in question, or any other company whose interests conflict with yours.
- Find a qualified lawyer in your area who has experience with cases similar to yours.
The Stoddard Firm has a strong track record of helping people collect fair compensation from negligent companies, including motels, operating in the Atlanta area. We’re experts in premises liability, personal injury, wrongful death, human trafficking law, and laws pertaining to the hospitality industry.
We’re not afraid of legally complex cases, and our top priorities are always standing up for victims and holding corporations accountable for safety. We’ll perform our own investigation to uncover the details of what happened to you or your loved one, and what went wrong to make that tragedy possible. We’ll handle all communications with Wyndham or your local Days Inn on your behalf, and walk you through the entire process in as stress-free a manner as possible.
To get started discussing your case with a qualified professional today, reach out at 678-RESULTS or through our online chat function for a free consultation.