Airbnb and Vrbo Have experienced explosive growth since the concept originated back in 2008. At any given time, there are millions of listings around the world. In 2021, North Carolinians earned roughly $75 million on the Airbnb platform by renting out their properties. The average North Carolina Airbnb host earns almost $14,000 each year.
With millions of listings throughout the world, there is always a chance that a renter can be injured in an Airbnb or Vrbo property. Not every host takes safety precautions to protect their guests. Premises liability law will legally entitle you to financial compensation when the host is negligent. The issue becomes where and how to seek the compensation that you deserve.
Airbnb and Vrbo Rentals are Subject to Special Laws
Of course, as an invitee into someone’s home, you are owed a duty of care by the Airbnb host. They must act reasonably under the circumstances, and keep the premises safe for visitors, or they may be legally liable for injuries. Like every personal injury case, the legal standard when you have suffered an injury at an Airbnb or Vrbo property is negligence.
In North Carolina, the Vacation Rental Act imposes strict liability on the owners of vacation rental properties if there is a building safety code violation on the premises, and the building code violation was a cause of the injury. If you suspect a building code violation caused an injury while renting a vacation home, it will be critical to take photographs of the dangerous condition so it can be reviewed by building code experts.
Although the property owner is not an absolute guarantor of your safety, they must use reasonable care. Here are some examples of what may be negligence claims against rental property owners:
- A bannister gives way when you are climbing a staircase, and you fall.
- The driveway or sidewalk is not properly maintained, and you trip over a loose piece of concrete.
- The carpeting is frayed, and you trip over it.
- The property has a hidden and dangerous condition on the premises.
- You are burned or electrocuted when the electrical wiring has not been properly maintained.
- You suffered an injury in an attack on the property.
Seeking Compensation After a Rental Home Injury
The issue is that while the owner will be liable to pay you, they may not have the assets to satisfy a judgment. Personal injury plaintiffs often have difficulty collecting judgments when the defendant does not have the money.
The host’s homeowner’s insurance policy may not cover damages when the homeowner is renting out their property because rentals are subject to a policy exclusion. Airbnb hosts often purchase their own insurance to protect themselves from liability. There may also be other liability parties such as a property management company. If a property management company is responsible for maintaining the property, they may also be liable for your
Airbnb and Vrbo Offers Insurance Coverage for Hosts
With that in mind, and to protect themselves from liability, Airbnb and Vrbo have insurance policies against which injured guests can file claims. Airbnb maintains a policy that will cover up to $1 million dollars in damages when you can prove that a host was negligent.
There are certain exclusions from the policy (such as mold and intentional actions by owners), but the insurance should cover the situation described above. If you have suffered an injury on a rental property, your best bet is often to file a claim directly against the host protection insurance. The bad news is that courts have held that companies like Airbnb are third-party intermediaries and cannot be liable for your injuries.
They are much like rideshare companies in that the law treats them like a broker as opposed to a principal.
It Is Not Always Easy to Deal with a Large Insurance Company
The fact that there is an insurance policy in place means that you have to deal with an insurance company. Airbnb and Vrbo pay their insurance companies large amounts of money for the policy. In turn, the insurance companies want to keep as much as they can of the premiums. Simply stated, it is big business for them.
It is far from automatic that you will get a settlement check for an injury suffered at a rental property. The insurance company will still demand that you prove their policyholder was negligent. They may deny claims if they do not believe that you have met your burden of proof.
Since many Airbnb and Vrbo claims are slip-and-falls, where insurance companies are naturally skeptical, there is a high proportion of claims that are denied. You may have to fight for what you legally deserve in the face of a resistant insurance company.
Damages in a Vrbo or Airbnb Claim
Even if you can get a settlement offer, you are likely to receive one that is far below your actual damages. In any premises liability case, you are legally entitled to the following damages:
- The complete cost of all of your medical-related bills
- Lost wages for time missed from work
- Pain and suffering for the physical and emotional discomfort that you have endured since the accident
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Chances are that you will need to intensively negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. They will not offer you fair value at first, and it can take many months to reach that point. A personal injury lawyer can advise you and handle the negotiations with the insurance company. Our lawyers have extensive experience in premises liability cases such as these.
Contact a Wilmington Personal Injury Attorney Today
At Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys, your legal rights after an accident are our cause. We fight for our clients when insurance companies and large businesses try to save money at their expense. We will be the ones who stand up for you when you need a fighter.
To begin the legal process that can result in financial compensation, schedule a free consultation. You can send us a message online or call us at (910) 668-8067 to discuss your case with an attorney.
Vacation Rental Injury FAQs
How do I prove negligence in a premises liability case?
You need direct physical evidence that can include witness testimony, pictures, and physical documents that can show what the property owner knew and did about a dangerous condition.
How long will my premises liability claim take?
Much of this depends on the insurance company and its own timetable. Insurance companies have been known to drag out personal injury claims to wear down claimants.
Can I afford an attorney?
Yes. You do not need to pay an attorney upfront. You only pay if you win your case.