Airbnb and Premise Liability: What You Need to Know
July 19, 2016
Airbnb is an app that allows homeowners or landlords to rent out their property for short periods of time. If you go on vacation or have a second home that you visit during the summer, you might have considered using the app to make some extra money. Or perhaps you’ve thought about renting a property on Airbnb instead of getting a traditional hotel room.
Many guests use Airbnb for vacations and have no problems whatsoever. However, sometimes bad things happen. People get hurt. If you or someone you love rents an Airbnb property and gets injured, who is responsible? Can you receive compensation from the owner if they were negligent? What about Airbnb?
Before you decide to stay at a property on Airbnb, it is important to understand the basic ideas behind premise liability.
Generally speaking, if someone is injured on another person’s property due to the owner’s negligence, they may sue the property owner under premise liability.
Premise liability is based on the idea that property owners have the responsibility of creating a safe environment for any guests on the property. Any injuries or damages caused by an unsafe environment become the fault of the property owner.
If an injured person wants to sue a property owner for damages, he or she will have to prove the following:
- The property owner failed to create a safe environment for guests and visitors.
- The unsafe environment or property owner’s negligence directly caused the injury in question.
For example, say a hotel employee spills a liquid on the floor of the lobby. The staff neglects to clean up the spill or alert guests of the slippery floor. A guest slips and falls due to the spill, and the incident results in a broken arm. The guest then has the right to sue the hotel on the grounds that the staff’s negligence caused the broken arm.
How Premise Liability Works with Airbnb
In the past, there have been cases in which Airbnb has not accepted liability for any injuries or damages that occurred during a guest’s stay. But these cases may have deterred owners from listing their properties on Airbnb, so in 2015, Airbnb introduced a $1 million Host Protection Insurance. Now, if a guest is injured at an Airbnb-listed property, the company may cover the injury or damages for up to $1 million per occurrence (after other insurance is used).
For guests, this is both good and bad. Dealing with a big company like Airbnb means that they have a reputation to uphold and that you know they have the finances to actually cover your costs, which may not always be the case for individual property owners.
However, it also means that you will be filing a claim against a large organization that likely is able to afford a highly-skilled legal team. In other words, they have more resources to fight your claim.
Moreover, there are some things that Airbnb doesn’t cover. For example, the Host Protection Insurance does not cover damages or injuries resulting from fungi, bacteria, communicable diseases, pollution, or asbestos that is present in your property.
In these cases, a property owner has created an unsafe environment by allowing the presence of toxic or dangerous substances. Because of this, you would need to open up a claim against them specifically rather than Airbnb.
For more specifics on what Airbnb will and will not cover in a premise liability lawsuit, read through their terms of service.
About the Author:
John K. Lawlor, a South Florida personal injury attorney who focuses his practice on complex personal injury, wrongful death, and professional malpractice, founded the law firm of Lawlor, White & Murphey in 1996. Since 1995, Mr. Lawlor’s trial advocacy and litigation skills, as well as his wide-ranging legal expertise, have provided plaintiffs and their families with a distinct advantage when seeking financial compensation and justice for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Lawlor is an EAGLE member of the Florida Bar Association and an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Broward County Justice Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several professional associations.