When choosing a place to stay for the night, do you find yourself weighing price against safety? It’s an extremely common dilemma that legally shouldn’t exist. All property owners have a duty to make sure their properties are safe for anyone with a legal right to be there, which certainly includes paying guests. This duty does not change with the business’s price bracket or location.
So, while it may be normal for lower-end motel brands like Super 8 to offer fewer luxury amenities, they do not have the right to skimp in any way that could put their guests at risk of harm.
Below, we’ll go into detail on common dangers that affect Super 8 guests and how we can help you get the compensation you deserve. If, at any time, you would prefer to speak directly with a lawyer about your unique situation, please feel free to reach out by phone or chat.
Super 8 Is Responsible for Providing an Environment Free of Unreasonable Hazards
Just like any business that invites people onto its premises, Super 8 is responsible for keeping those premises as hazard-free as they can reasonably be. For a motel, some of the most basic safety measures include, but are not limited to:
- Maintaining stairs and railings in good condition.
- Preserving the structural integrity of the building itself.
- Keeping floors free of slipping and tripping hazards.
- Making sure electrical, heating, and plumbing systems are up to code.
- Providing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
- Establishing a clearly marked evacuation route with reliable lighting.
As one might guess from that list, the most common hotel accidents involve falls, structural collapses, and fires.
Super 8 has had its share of fires in particular. In the last five years, known or suspected causes for Super 8 fires have included lightning, at least two cases of arson, and a malfunctioning air conditioner.
Others have started spontaneously in unoccupied rooms or inside walls, pointing to probable faulty wiring.
In the majority of cases, the guests and staff of the hotel were at least able to evacuate safely. That’s one of the key focuses of fire safety and preparedness, arguably even more important than preventing ignitions in the first place. However, the Super 8 brand has not been consistently reliable on that front either, especially recently.
In August of 2022, the Super 8 in Vandalia, Ohio was shut down, and two of its managers arrested, following a failed code inspection. The location had apparently been given the chance to fix several fire safety citations, including missing smoke detectors and an inoperable fire suppression system, and failed to do so.
If you’ve been harmed in a fire, collapse, or slip-and-fall type of accident at a Super 8, there’s a good chance your injuries are a result of company negligence and grounds for a significant settlement.
A Safe Hotel Stay Includes Safety from Shootings and Other Violent Crime
Arson is far from the only dangerous criminal activity Super 8 guests have been exposed to during their stays.
Gun violence is one of the most — if not the most — deadly and pervasive dangers visitors will face when checking into a Super 8. The publicly reported incidents are seemingly endless, and this small handful of examples is from the last two months alone, as of this posting:
- In Augusta, Georgia, an unidentified man was shot in a Super 8 motel, walked outside, and died from his injuries.
- In Tempe, Arizona, an apparent late-night argument outside a Super 8 escalated to a shooting. The victim was hospitalized and survived.
- In Vallejo, California, another man was shot inside a Super 8 and died at the scene.
- In Marysville, Ohio, a 4-year-old child was struck in the leg with a bullet fired from an adjacent room. The man staying in that adjacent room was arrested for, among other things, illegal possession of a weapon. Thankfully, the child survived.
Obviously, the phenomenon of gun violence is much larger than a single company’s policies, but it’s also an established issue that should not come as a surprise to any business, especially not a business with over a thousand U.S locations, many of them in areas with high crime rates.
Legally, if a business has reason to expect a certain threat to customers on its property, it has a duty to take all reasonable measures to minimize that threat. In most locations, gun violence counts as an expected threat.
Steps businesses like Super 8 can take to protect their guests include:
- Employing a 24-hour security presence.
- Requiring identification for check-ins and disallowing cash-only transactions.
- Installing security gates to limit physical access to the property.
- Equipping the building exterior and common areas with functional security cameras and good lighting.
In addition to statistically deterring crime, camera coverage can, of course, help with identifying suspects after a crime has already taken place, but only if the cameras’ quality is good enough.
Of the four recent incidents listed above, three of the shooters escaped the scene unidentified, so it’s a safe bet that Super 8 has not invested enough in this safety measure.
Motels Like Super 8 Have a Duty to Fight Sex Trafficking and Sexual Violence
Many of the best safety precautions against falls, fires, and shootings are common across all different kinds of bricks-and-mortar businesses. The hospitality industry, however, has some unique vulnerabilities, and therefore unique responsibilities, when it comes to preventing sexual violence.
Motels, particularly low-end brands like Super 8, make ideal venues for illegal sex trafficking, if management doesn’t make the effort to deter these activities.
Based on the events of the past few years, Super 8 does not appear to be making that effort.
- In 2020, two unrelated men were arrested, one in Colorado Springs and one in Plano, Texas, for pimping underage girls out of Super 8 motels.
- That same year, two women sued a total of 22 Florida hotels, including the Super 8 in Naples, for allowing them to be sexually exploited on hotel property from 2015 through 2016.
- In 2019, two other women came forward, one in Virginia and one in New Hampshire, and sued the company for the same reason, saying they had been trafficked in local motels in 2012 and 2016 respectively.
Most of the confirmed and alleged victims of sex trafficking in Super 8 motels do not describe their exploitation as being quiet, well-disguised, or otherwise easy for a well-meaning but oblivious motel manager to overlook. The Virginia woman, in particular, reported that she regularly screamed for help during her captivity, and that she believes her pimp was paying off the staff.
The privacy of motels also makes them more likely settings for sex crimes that aren’t organized or money-related.
Now, in 2023, two women are suing Super 8, saying that they were both sexually assaulted on separate occasions by the manager of the Belleville, Michigan location. The first woman filed a report with local police, who issued an arrest warrant for the manager but apparently never performed the arrest, even though he continued living and working at the same motel until the second reported incident.
The second woman is arguing that if the first woman’s case had been properly addressed, hers would never have happened. The first woman is arguing that her case could also have been prevented, if the staff of the motel had not been intimidated into covering up alleged previous incidents.
On top of all the irreparable harm that sex trafficking and sexual violence cause in and of themselves, allowing criminal enterprises like sex trafficking to operate out of a property can also increase the risk of other violence there.
This may have been a contributing factor in yet another Super 8 motel shooting in 2020. In that case, one guest shot another inside a Super 8 in Brockton, Massachusetts. When the shooter was apprehended, police found he had also been arrested previously for trafficking a minor.
If you have ever been sexually exploited or otherwise harmed by violence at a Super 8 motel, whether or not you were the intended victim, you probably have a viable case against the company.
Super 8’s Premises Include Its Parking Lots
When a property is unsafe, especially in terms of violent crime, the parking lot tends to be the biggest problem area. Businesses will often pay less attention to the parking lot, thinking of it as “outside” the business itself, but lots dedicated to a single business do count as part of the property.
Super 8 parking lots have proven predictably dangerous. Fights in the parking lots have often turned violent, including one in 2022 in Ocala, Florida, which ended with one man dead and a woman shot through the hand.
Earlier that same year, in Raleigh, North Carolina, another fight ended with one man jumping onto the other’s moving vehicle and ending up with life-threatening injuries.
Super 8 parking lots have also served as the starting point for several police chases, and seen multiple accidents that could have threatened the lives of people inside the building as well as outside.
One of those accidents happened in the same month and same city as the vehicle-jumping altercation, though not the same location. In that instance, a woman accidentally hit her accelerator instead of the brake and crashed through the motel’s front window.
It was essentially was a milder version of the same accident that had happened at a Super 8 in Houston, Texas two years earlier. A car crashed into that motel’s lobby, dragging along a power pole it had also crashed into, and started a fire. There was an employee at the front desk only inches away at the time of the crash, but somehow, the only people injured were the two inside the car, both of whom died.
Most of the same features that can improve a property’s overall safety will work for parking lots: lights, cameras, gates, security personnel. Super 8 might also need to install bollards to prevent out-of-control vehicles from reaching guests and employees inside.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured or Lost a Loved One on Super 8 Property
Whenever you’ve suffered a serious injury, your first priority should of course be getting out of danger and getting prompt, thorough medical care.
When the injury has happened on commercial property, like at a Super 8 motel, establishing a record of the events should also be high on your to-do list. This process can, unfortunately, carry a bit of a catch-22.
If you don’t report the incident to Super 8 in a timely manner, the company will probably try to deny that it ever happened. Then again, if you do discuss it with a Super 8 representative, they may try to twist your words or talk you into accepting blame that isn’t yours.
The best way to handle this is to gather whatever evidence you safely can on your own, such as pictures of where the incident happened, and notify the company immediately but briefly, with minimal details and no conversation. Then, find a qualified lawyer as soon as possible to mediate the rest of your interactions with Super 8.
The Stoddard Firm has extensive experience in premises liability law, and with the specific recurring issues found in Georgia hotels and motels. We’re committed to holding big brands like Super 8 accountable when they neglect their customers’ safety, and above all, we help survivors secure the resources they need to get their lives back on track.
From sex trafficking and assaults, to fires, to CO poisoning, to falls and scalding injuries in overheated showers, we know the relevant laws and precedents. We’re prepared to establish exactly how you or your loved one were harmed on Super 8 property, and why Super 8 should have known better than to allow it to happen.
To get started discussing your potential Super 8 lawsuit in a free consultation, just reach out through our online chat function, or at 678-RESULTS.