In the modern-day of social media and smartphones, Airbnb is giving large hotel chains and small-town motels alike a run for their money. With just a few clicks in the Airbnb app, you can book temporary lodgings in more than 80,000 cities across the world, perfect for business trips, holiday vacations, spring breaks, weekend getaways, and more. Airbnb properties are owned and run by locals who partner with the app, sharing their homes – or sometimes just a room in their home – to travelers in need of a place to stay at a fair price.
But, if you rent an Airbnb for your next vacation, are you sacrificing some of your consumer protections in exchange for the convenience?
Accidents & Injuries While Renting an Airbnb
Anything can happen while staying in an Airbnb. In fact, many people stray away from the convenient service because they don’t trust to find a safe, reliable room to rent if managing it is left to one, unsupervised person, rather than a hospitality company. While there are all types of horror stories out there about Airbnb rentals, right up to being assaulted by the host, the vast majority of stays are uneventful and only day-to-day accidents need to be worried about.
The most common concern while renting an Airbnb is a slip and fall accident. If you lose your balance while going up the stairs in the Airbnb you are renting, fall, and suffer injuries, can you sue the owner of the property? Should you bring a lawsuit against Airbnb? Or, do you have no claim to compensation at all?
Local Premises Liability Rules May Apply
When it comes to an accident in an Airbnb, premises liability laws will most likely determine who can be found liable for the resulting injuries and damages. Airbnb has a presence in nearly 200 countries, so the rules will vary. But, in the United States, premises liability laws are used.
With that said, the owner of a piece of property has a constant duty to protect visitors, guests, customers, and, in some cases, trespassers from unreasonable hazards and dangers. Given that an Airbnb host is required to rent out a property they own, they become the party liable for your accident—if it was their negligence that contributed to it. Airbnb, no matter how hands-on their customer service department might be, effectively avoids any accountability for your accident under typical circumstances.
How Does an Airbnb Host Become Liable for Your Accident?
The details of how you got hurt while renting an Airbnb property heavily influences the extent of liability your host assumes. If the hazard that caused your accident was unreasonable and should have been corrected well before you got to the property, then they are likely fully liable for your damages. If the hazard is something you caused or something that the host would not have reasonably known about, then liability becomes blurrier.
An example in which the host should be liable: You rent an Airbnb, talk with the host before arriving, and get assurance that the property has been cleaned and maintained. Only minutes after arriving, you trip over a portion of lifted carpeting, fall, and get seriously injured. Your Airbnb host should be found liable for your accident because they not only failed to maintain a safe property, but they also led you to believe it had been recently inspected.
An example in which you might be liable: You rent an Airbnb and get friends together for a party. During the festivities, someone breaks the banister on the second-floor balcony, causing you to fall and get injured. The host would likely not be liable because they did not invite your guests to the party, and it is likely that boisterous activities during the party caused the banister to break, rather than a preexisting defect. However, it could be possible for you not to be liable if there is evidence to suggest the banister was weak and needed reinforcement before the Airbnb was rented. You should never assume you are liable for an accident. Discuss your case with an injury attorney instead.
Filing an Airbnb Accident Claim
After you suffer an accident while renting an Airbnb, you need to bring the matter to the attention of Airbnb, not just your host. Failing to notify Airbnb of the incident creates an imperfect record of what happened, which could hurt your chances of securing compensation later on. Don’t say too much to Airbnb, though. Saying the wrong thing could make you seem liable for your accident.
After you notify Airbnb, you should seek out the help of a personal injury lawyer. They can help you begin forming your injury claim, which will need to be brought against your host. But they can also provide much-needed guidance for when Airbnb contacts you again for its own investigation.
It is possible that Airbnb could offer you a small settlement for your troubles. Run this settlement offer by your attorney and make certain it doesn’t prohibit you from seeking damages from third parties, namely the host and their homeowners’ insurance company. The bottom line is that if you get hurt in an Airbnb at no fault of your own, you should have options to seek damages, and a trusted attorney can help you secure them.
At Todd Miner Law in Orlando, we help clients manage complex and high-stakes injury claims, such as premises liability claims filed after an Airbnb accident. Call (407) 269-5877 to see how Attorney Todd Miner and his team can act as your legal representatives for your Airbnb accident case.