Can Airbnb Owners Be Sued When A Guest Is Injured?
A recent lawsuit filed in the Northern District of Georgia involves a man who claims he was injured while staying at an Airbnb. The man claims that a swing on the property failed causing him injury. He has since sued the hosts of the Airbnb on the basis of premises liability. Is he allowed to do that? Well, the result of the lawsuit could have a major impact on whether Airbnb guests are allowed to sue property owners under the legal banner of premises liability.
Essentially, there are no special protections for Airbnb owners. A hotel in a similar circumstance would have to face the lawsuit filed by these plaintiffs. The plaintiff contends that while he tried to swing on the tree branch swing, the branch snapped causing him to tumble to the ground.
Analyzing a host of problems
Hotels are not owned by Joe and Jane Doe, they are owned by LLCs. In this case, the property owners have been named as defendants directly as opposed to an LLC that owns the property separately. This means that the owners can be sued directly for damages and have been named personally in the lawsuit. Owners should also have insurance that covers them in the event of an accident or injury. Typically, homeowner’s insurance would cover such an action if someone damaged themselves on your personal property.
The biggest problem for the court right now is whether or not Airbnb is liable for the conduct of their hosts. Airbnb is named in the lawsuit but does not have any managing control over the guests, the hosts, or the property itself. The same, however, could be said of Uber, Lyft, and Amazon, all of which have faced lawsuits related to their services even though they don’t directly control the drivers or vendors on their sites. Can Airbnb be held liable? It’s possible.
A second question comes into play when analyzing the insurance policy that would pay out. Does homeowner’s insurance apply to a commercial rental? Maybe not. Is the host to be treated as a homeowner or a business operator? These are more questions that need to be answered.
If the lawsuit does proceed, it will proceed as a premises liability lawsuit. The plaintiffs will argue that the defendant should have inspected the tree swing and removed it when they noted the branch was rotten. Because they did not, someone was injured. A homeowner has a lower duty of care than a business operator. A business operator would be expected to inspect the premises prior to allowing someone access. If the defendants are held to that standard, then they would be liable for the injury. If not, then they have a lower duty of care.
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Payer Law represents the interests of those injured by the negligence of other parties. Call our Miami personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your claim immediately.