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AIRBNB AND LIABILITY LAW: WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU BOOK A STAY

Airbnb has become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional hotels over the past decade.

The home-sharing company is valued at $90 billion. It has 5.6 million listings worldwide and more than 200 million bookings per year, making it one of the biggest hospitality companies on the planet.

With that many properties, injuries are bound to occur. According to a recent Bloomberg investigation, the company’s trust-and-safety team moves swiftly when things go wrong — offering quick settlements to make the case go away. Nondisclosure agreements prevent the recipients from discussing the settlement.

Over the past several years, Bloomberg reports, Airbnb spent an average of $50 million annually on payouts, including settlements.

“When customers are injured at Airbnb sites, the multibillion-dollar company does its best to sweep cases under the rug and avoid responsibility,” Cavanagh Law Group partner Tim Cavanagh said. “That is unacceptable. Airbnb owes its customers the highest duty of care and should be held accountable when properties aren’t safe.”

It is essential for anyone injured at an Airbnb property to contact an attorney immediately. Experienced attorneys will work to protect your rights and are well versed in navigating complex liability laws.

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb is a peer-to-peer rental company that allows customers to rent anything from a pullout sofa in someone’s living room to a whole home for short-term stays. There are more than 6,900 shared housing hosts licensed in the city of Chicago.

At hotels, guests know properties are required to conduct routine inspections and maintain certain safety and sanitation standards.

But with Airbnb, a customer’s experience can vary wildly. Renters are reliant on property owners to provide safe environments, and not all owners are created equal. It falls on owners to keep up with maintenance, alert renters to potential hazards, ensure the property has functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fix broken stairs and more.

When property owners fail, the results can be devastating.

In 2018, a New Orleans couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning after inhaling toxic fumes at an Airbnb in Mexico. In 2015, a woman at an Airbnb in New York City was raped by a man who had duplicate keys to the unit. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) this year asked home-sharing companies, including Airbnb, to issue warnings about elevators after a 7-year-old boy was crushed to death inside a North Carolina rental home.

Who is liable when someone is hurt on an Airbnb property?

Property owners are responsible for renters’ safety during an Airbnb stay. If a property owner is negligent and an injury occurs, renters could have grounds for a premises liability lawsuit.

Airbnb hosts are expected to have homeowners insurance, but not all plans cover rental businesses. Some policies may cover a limited number of short-term stays, but property owners typically need to purchase landlord or home-sharing insurance.

Airbnb provides Host Protection Insurance, additional insurance that covers liability claims.

What should I do if I’m injured at an Airbnb?

If you’re injured on a home-sharing property, it is important to seek medical attention. Take photos of the property and your injuries. Gather your medical records, and don’t provide statements to insurance companies representing the homeowner or Airbnb.

Call an attorney immediately. A personal injury attorney will look out for your best interest and help you obtain the maximum results.

“Airbnb has a responsibility to ensure its customers are safe and its properties are secure,” Cavanagh Law Group partner Mike Sorich said. “When that doesn’t happen, it is important to hold the company and its hosts accountable.”

At Cavanagh Law Group, our attorneys have the passion, drive and experience to take on complex and diverse cases across the United States — and win. We are available 24/7 to answer questions and address concerns. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.