Property Owner Liability for Vacation Rentals and Airbnbs

July 27, 2021 | David Abels
Property Owner Liability for Vacation Rentals and Airbnbs Vacation rentals from companies like AirBnB and VRBO appear picture perfect on their websites. As excited vacationers browse through all the listings, they imagine settling into a modern, spacious property for a fraction of what a comparable hotel would cost them. However, not all rental properties turn into the dream vacation. Some are operated by negligent property owners or have hidden dangers that could result in injuries to you and your family. In unfortunate situations like this, you may find yourself wondering who you can hold responsible for your damages.

I was injured at a vacation rental home. Can I get compensation for my injuries?

If you were injured at a vacation rental home, you can only receive compensation if your injuries were caused by the negligence of the owner or operator. This means that any injuries caused by unforeseeable incidents would not be eligible for a personal injury lawsuit. However, if you believe that the property was unsafe or that the owner was negligent in some way, you can seek compensation by speaking with a personal injury attorney. In these circumstances, you may be able to recover compensation for damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

What responsibility does a vacation rental owner have to keep me safe?

In accordance with the Illinois Premises Liability Act, vacation rental owners have a responsibility to keep their properties free from avoidable hazards. The owner of the property or the property manager must ensure that the rental is well-maintenanced, regularly cleaned, and properly secured. One way this is supported is through the requirement to register with the City of Chicago in order to rent their properties through companies like AirBnB. This makes each rental unit subject to regulations, such as building inspections that can happen at any time.

What types of insurance do companies like AirBnB and VRBO have?

AirBnB and VRBO are two of the biggest vacation rental online marketplaces in the United States. These websites allow homeowners and property managers to rent out their furnished properties for lodging, vacations, and tourism activities as an alternative to hotels. Since companies like AirBnB and VRBO handle so many tenants each year, they are required to have a certain amount of insurance to cover some of the property owner’s responsibilities. For instance, AirBnB has Host Protection insurance to cover bodily injuries and property damage suffered by renters which covers claims of bodily injury and property damage up to $1 million. Most standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover home-sharing services, which is why Airbnb offers its own host protection insurance program. However, some home insurance policies do cover these types of activities. Additionally, some property owners purchase supplemental insurance. In almost all situations, these policies don't apply if the property owner isn’t determined to be at-fault.

Don’t trust insurance companies to have your best interest in mind.

If you are injured at an Airbnb or VRBO and need to file an injury claim, you should be cautious of the insurance company’s intentions. The insurance adjuster will likely want you to give a recorded statement and submit other information. Doing this without legal counsel can be risky. The insurance adjuster could guide you into revealing information about your vacation that may make you look culpable. Without thinking about it, you could casually mention some detail that can be twisted to work against your injury claim. That’s why it’s best to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after you sustain an injury so that they can guide you through the process. Additionally, there are situations in which the property owner’s insurance is supposed to cover your damages. For instance, coverage for injuries that occur due to a break-in or assault may be included in the owner’s insurance policy but you would never know unless you speak to an attorney.

What are some common ways people are injured at vacation rental homes?

Poorly maintained rental properties can lead to a variety of injuries that may have lasting effects on victims and their families. These injuries can range in severity, but they almost always cause medical bills, lost wages from missed time off work, and other issues like pain and suffering.

Slip and Falls

Slip and falls are one of the most common causes of injuries at vacation rentals homes. Some of the most common causes of slip and falls at homes or apartments are loose flooring, hidden hazards, unsecured handrails, and poor lighting. While some falls can be laughed off, 20% of falls lead to serious injuries like broken bones or head injuries.

Swimming Pool Injuries

Even though Illinois requires pools to be enclosed and other safety features are recommended, that doesn’t mean all Chicago vacation rentals meet this criteria. This can leave young guests vulnerable to drowning. Drowning can of course be deadly, but in some instances a person may be saved but still suffer complications like brain damage, lung tissue damage, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), hypothermia, or a variety of other medical conditions.

Burn Injuries

Burns are another common cause of injuries in rental vacation homes, especially in cases where there is damage or negligence. Stoves, grills, and appliances that are old or damaged can cause burns caused by fires or explosions. Faulty electrical wiring in a rental property is also a major danger and can cause burns or electrocution.

Dangerous Staircases

Loose handrails, torn carpeting, and insufficient lighting are some of the staircase hazards that can cause a serious fall in vacation homes. Neck and back injuries, brain damage, and broken bones are just some of the many serious injuries that can develop if you fall down an unsafe staircase.

Hidden Dangers

Rental properties that aren’t properly cleaned and maintained could have dangers lurking throughout the unit. There may be dangerous medicine in places where children can find them or lose items like unsecured bookshelves and mirrors that can fall and injure a guest. There may also be loose boards on the lake dock or unsecured banisters around the deck. The list of possible hidden dangers is long. In most scenarios, the responsibility is on the owner of the property to make sure that their property is safe and free from hazards.

Invasion of Privacy

Numerous AirBnB guests have found hidden cameras while staying in vacation rentals. Hosts have been caught surveilling bedrooms and bathrooms where guests expect the highest level of privacy. In these circumstances, guests have successfully sued the rental property owners and their management companies for negligence, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress to recover compensation for damages and attorney fees.

How can a Chicago premise liability lawyer help me?

A Chicago premise liability can help you to fully understand your circumstances, your rights, and what actions you should take to be able to recover compensation. They will also help you with gathering evidence and showing the extent of your injuries so that your claim won’t be undervalued or dismissed. Abels & Annes has decades of experience handling premise liability claims. Let us use our experience to get you the highest possible compensation for your vacation rental injuries. For a free initial case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.  
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David Abels

Partner

David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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