Magana Cathcart & McCarthy

What Happens if You are Injured in an Airbnb Rental?


Airbnb has become extremely popular among travelers as an alternative to staying in hotels. The website offers tourists the option of staying in a private home while they’re visiting a new city, either alone in the owner’s home while the owner stays elsewhere, or while the owner is present. The rapid growth in popularity of the service seems to have caught the company off-guard, however, as it has fought with local municipalities over hotel taxes and unruly house guests in formerly-quiet residential neighborhoods. However, the latest legal issue in which the company is mired is a greater cause for concern for the average guest—whether and how personal injury claims are paid in the event you’re injured during your stay.

A recent article in the New York Times discussed this question, but it took a tragic story to bring the issue to the attention of the public. The article discussed Zak Stone’s story of his family’s stay in an Airbnb in Texas, where his father was killed when using a tree swing on the house’s property. The tree had begun to rot, and when Stone’s father sat on the swing, the large branch holding the swing broke off and hit the man in the head, fatally injuring him. Through the process of filing a claim against the company, the Stone family learned that Airbnb does not conduct any sort of on-site safety inspection prior to featuring a property on the site, and that homeowners need not even speak to an Airbnb representative on the phone prior to renting their home. Airbnb goes out of its way to state that it is not liable for any injuries suffered by guests while staying at the properties–from whose owners Airbnb nevertheless collects a fee of between 6 and 12% per reservation.

Normally, when an accident occurs at a residence, the homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the victim’s injuries. When an accident such as this occurs at an Airbnb rental, however, compensation may not be so simple. Most homeowner insurance policies exclude coverage for activities on the property that could be deemed commercial in nature. Airbnb now offers each of the owners who rent property through their site a $1 million policy for injuries occurring to guests. However, some experts have expressed doubts as to whether Airbnb can truly cover the number of claims that could potentially be filed against those policies due to the ever-expanding roll of properties listed on the site. And while it might seem like a large sum, a maximum insurance payout of $1 million may not be sufficient to cover the losses of more substantial injuries requiring long-term care. If you are a guest of an Airbnb, remain cautious about safety conditions around the rental. Keep in mind that the property has undergone no formal third party inspection and may contain hidden hazards.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the dangerous or negligently maintained premises of a business or public space and want to make sure you are fully compensated for your injuries, contact Los Angeles personal injury law firm Magaña, Cathcart & McCarthy for a consultation on your claims, at 310-553-6630.

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