Complementing the modern age of convenience, Airbnb is an app with the goal of improving traditional travel. Airbnb allows vacationers to book affordable rooms or entire residences at establishments that hosts offer for rent online. Airbnb works with home and property owners, not hotels or commercial establishments. As such, it is the individual homeowner’s duty to ensure the safety of the property for travelers. The house-sharing model Airbnb uses can unfortunately lead to liability issues if a guest sustains an injury.
Airbnb Injuries and Premises Liability
Airbnb allows normal, non-professional people to make money providing their homes or rooms for rent to strangers. It is similar to ridesharing apps in that the company acts as an intermediary between the service providers and the customers. Unlike Uber and Lyft, however, which require vehicle inspections before allowing drivers to host passengers, Airbnb obeys no such system. The company does not require home inspections before allowing owners to post their spaces on the app or website. This can lead to unsafe properties and guest injuries.
Airbnbs may be more prone to guest injuries and accidents than hotels. Typical homeowners will not have maintenance crews, security guards, lifeguards, or routine fire inspections like hotels. They do not have to obey industry standards in terms of guest safety or care. Homeowners may negligently fail to check for hidden hazards, repair them, or warn guests to avoid them. Such was the case when an unsafe rope swing caused the death of one man at an Airbnb in Texas. In this case, the property owner made no mention of the rope swing’s potential dangers and likely did not even know the hazard existed. The man’s family recovered through the homeowner’s insurance policy in this particular tragedy.
Who Is Liable for an Airbnb Injury?
When someone gets injured in a hotel, liability is relatively straightforward. Hotels and other commercial businesses are responsible for keeping their properties free from hazards based on premises liability laws. If an element in the hotel, such as a loose railing or broken elevator, results in guest injury, the hotel will be liable. Property defect cases regarding Airbnb residences are not as cut and dry. The liable party might be the homeowner, Airbnb, and/or the property landlord (if this party differs from the host of the space).
Homeowner liability is the most common ending to Airbnb cases, as the company protects itself from lawsuits in its “Terms of Service” when users sign up. The homeowner may be responsible for guest injuries at an Airbnb if he or she lied to the company when he/she joined. Airbnb does not check the safety of its listings, but it does ask that homeowners follow certain steps. These include checking smoke alarms, establishing occupancy limits, removing trip and fall hazards, fixing exposed wires, and other such safety efforts. A homeowner could easily ignore these tips and welcome guests to a potentially dangerous home.
Not all homeowner’s insurance policies will cover Airbnb guest injuries. Most, in fact, bar recovery in the event of “commercial use.” In this case, it may be possible to recover through Airbnb’s $1 million in liability protection instead. Cases involving Airbnb hosts that are actually property tenants and not owners are even more complex and may involve renter’s insurance policies. If you recently sustained an injury during your Airbnb stay, talk to a personal injury lawyer about your options for compensation.