Since 2009, Airbnb has grown to more than six million listings. Stays usually work out well for guests and hosts, and Airbnb properties are often less expensive than hotels, especially for large groups. Furthermore, a significant number of Airbnb hosts count on this revenue to help pay their mortgage debt.
Additionally, Airbnb takes steps to ensure guest safety. These steps include safety seminars and background checks for both guests and hosts. However, these safety measures only go so far. For example, it’s fairly easy for unscrupulous hosts to open phony accounts with fake names. Unfortunately, assaults, falls, kidnapping, and sexual assaults could happen during an Airbnb stay.
Technically, Airbnb owners are responsible for any injury during your stay. However, as outlined below, these cases are quite complex. Only the most seasoned New York personal injury attorney should handle them. Compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Preliminary Issues in an Airbnb Injury Claim
Vrbo, hotel, and Airbnb injury claims usually involve some important procedural issues. Generally, the victim’s and property’s location are in different counties, or even different states, and these differences could affect your claim for damages.
“Venue” is legalese for the place a victim files a lawsuit. Usually, venue lies in the county of the victim’s residence or the county where the injury happened. Each choice has its pros and cons. Filing in the county of the victim’s residence basically gives the victim a home court advantage. However, it’s harder to prove a case in these situations. Most of the evidence is located in the county where the injury occurred.
Additionally, while the principles discussed in this blog apply in most states, the law in all states isn’t the same. The victim-friendly or victim-unfriendly nature of these laws is something else for a New York personal injury attorney to consider.
Duty of Care
Most states, including New York, use a classification system based on the relationship between Airbnb owners and Airbnb guests to determine the legal duty in an Airbnb injury claim.
Airbnb guests pay to stay at the property. Therefore, these victims are invitees in most states. In such cases, the owner has a duty of reasonable care to make the property reasonably safe. They must ensure their properties are safe and inspect these properties to ensure they stay safe.
A lower duty of care applies if the victim was a licensee (no benefit but permission to be on the property) or a trespasser (no benefit and no permission).
Knowledge of Hazard
Additionally, victims must prove the owners knew, or should have known, about the hazard which led to the injury. These injuries usually include falls, assaults, kidnappings, and sexual assaults.
Unsafe property conditions, like icy walkways, loose electrical cords, and loose floor rugs cause most falls. Negligent security issues cause most kidnappings, assaults, and sexual assaults. Negligent security examples include:
- Non-working cameras,
- Burned-out lights, and
- Inadequate security level (e.g. a doorman instead of an armed guard).
A New York personal injury attorney may use direct or circumstantial evidence to establish actual or constructive knowledge.
Smoking guns that prove actual knowledge include cleaning reports and security surveys. If the hazard has existed for a long time, that’s circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (ie should have known). In these situations, the owner should have known about it and should have done something about it.
Proving Your Case in an Airbnb Injury Claim
Normally, the res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself) rule helps premises liability victims prove their Airbnb injury claims. According to this rule, jurors may presume that negligence caused a fall, assault, or other injury. However, in most states, this rule only applies if the owner exclusively controlled the property. That’s obviously not true in an Airbnb injury claim.
Fortunately, the burden of proof in a civil claim is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, a little proof goes a long way.
A bare-bones case usually isn’t enough for maximum compensation. A New York personal injury attorney must also refuse some common insurance company defenses, such as comparative fault.
Essentially, comparative fault shifts blame for an injury from the owner to the victim. For example, in a sexual assault or simple assault claim, owners often claim that victims failed to mind their surroundings and take steps to keep themselves safe.
Property injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We have offices in Manhattan and nationwide.