No one expects an attack on their personal safety when booking a vacation rental at an Airbnb stay. Yet, sexual assaults in these rentals get reported more frequently than you may have imagined. Like the increase in Uber assaults, thousands of assault incidents occur in Airbnbs yearly.
If you've stayed at a vacation rental and experienced an attack, you might have concerns about what to do afterward. You might wonder if you have the right to file a lawsuit or consult a lawyer. Is Airbnb liable or the host?
Meeting with a lawyer can answer these questions. You could be owed compensation after an Airbnb assault. The personal injury lawyers at Rubenstein Law are experts at holding those responsible for the harm done to you.
The vacation rental sector is a massive part of the hospitality industry. Airbnb and VRBO monetize private homes by providing a marketplace for short-term rentals. The revenue of this industry was valued at over $13 million in 2021, with one in eight people staying as a guest.
Those numbers provide a wide opportunity for predatory behavior such as sexual assault. The vacation rental industry is built on trust. Guests trust both their host and Airbnb to provide them with safe and secure accommodation.
But, this isn't always the case. In 2016, an Australian woman was allegedly sexually assaulted in her Airbnb rental at knifepoint in New York City. This led to a $7 million payout from Airbnb.
This incident led to the company creating a crisis management team to handle incidents with customers. Many lawsuits get filed against Airbnb every year. Now, the crisis management team is in place to get ahead of bad PR.
Although nondisclosure agreements and binding arbitration clauses keep damages secret.
While assaults take place in all kinds of locations, vacation rentals through Airbnb and VRBO break the trust regarding safety between the company and the customer. According to travel research from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 6.1% of complaints from Airbnb guests were for unsafe conditions. These unsafe conditions include "serious safety issues" of bodily assault and "hidden cameras."
Sexual assault is more than rape. Federal, tribal, and State law define sexual assault as any non-consensual sexual act. This includes when the victim is unable to provide consent. Unwanted touching, kissing, and bodily contact are all forms of sexual assault.
A sexual assault at an Airbnb rental may involve:
Sexual assault often leaves survivors with trauma through emotional and physical injury. Every incident is different and needs personalized recovery. Yet, the immediate steps to take after an assault are similar.
The first step to take is to make sure no further injury can occur. Get to a safe location and call 911. Try to keep calm as the body goes into shock and the fight, flight, freeze response gets activated.
While the first thing a victim of sexual assault may want to do is have a shower, to preserve evidence it is recommended not to do so. At the hospital, a Forensic Nurse Examiner can collect physical evidence and document injuries. A strong case against an assault often includes physical evidence.
For immediate support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline. The trained support workers listen to your story, provide local resources, and help you report your assault.
Take the time to document your immediate experience. Write down or make an audio recording of the events. Try to be as detailed as possible by recording the time of day, smells, or sounds that happened before or during the assault. If possible, take photos of the scene of the assault.
Memory changes each time an event gets remembered or re-told. While reaching out to a friend is important for an individual's well-being after an assault, memories can fade or alter the more they get explained or relived. Therefore, keeping a personal record of the assault is helpful for a legal case.
Make sure to keep all records of your stay at the Airbnb. Any emails and financial statements that prove the dates and confirmation of the vacation rental are important for a legal case.
If you have been a victim of an Airbnb assault, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer who specializes in personal security issues. They can help navigate who is legally responsible for your mental and physical injuries.
Airbnb assault case liability depends on the circumstances of the assault. Every incident has a different scenario that led to the possibility of an attack. These details are important to determine liability.
Due to a high number of incidents, Airbnb created its Host Liability Insurance program. This program protects hosts from legal liability for injury. For each occurrence, the host property limit is $1,000,000. If the insured host sexually assaulted or caused assault and battery, they get excluded from the Host insurance.
Therefore, a victim of an Airbnb assault can file a claim through this insurance policy. If someone breaks into your vacation rental and assaults you, you can file a claim through the Airbnb insurance program. This also applies if you are sexually assaulted by someone visiting or staying in your rental.
If the attacker is the Airbnb host, the case becomes more complicated than a simple insurance claim. Filing a lawsuit against the host is necessary in this case and there are likely grounds for a dual case against Airbnb.
Seeking out support with a lawyer who specializes in Airbnb assaults is necessary if someone or the company requests you to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding your sexual assault. A lawyer can also help you determine if Airbnb provided proper background checks on your host.
Airbnb may have received prior complaints regarding the host. If they knew the host was a danger and did nothing to prevent further issues, they are likely liable for damages.
Sexual assault leaves a large impact on survivors. Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and crippling flashbacks are all common after an assault. Victims of assaults deserve compensation for the impact on their quality of life.
While financial compensation can't take away the impact of the event, it does help with recovery. Damages get provided to cover:
Punitive damages may also apply. This is compensation used to punish the person responsible for the assault. Family members are likely eligible for compensation if their relationship with the victim changed due to personal injury.
Physical injuries are easier to prove, but emotional injuries are just as important. Expert legal representation ensures both categories of injuries get included for compensation.
Statute of Limitations is the time limit for starting a legal proceeding. The location of the assault determines what the Statute of Limitations is. Each state has its own limitations for sexual assaults. Many states have no limitations for sexual assaults, while others have limits as low as a few years.
Despite this fact, there are good reasons to pursue a case against Airbnb if your assault occurred years ago.
Airbnb spends millions of dollars every year to keep assaults that happen at their host properties out of the public eye. Even if an assault occurred many years ago, there is a good chance you are eligible for damages.
Hiring a lawyer for your Airbnb assault case helps with:
Discussing your case with the lawyers at Rubenstein Law will provide you with the next steps for getting what you deserve.
The experts at Rubenstein Law understand the emotional impact of surviving a sexual assault. No one deserves to experience a violation. Renting an Airbnb is based on trust, so having your trust violated by assault is something that deserves punishment. It is a confidential environment at Rubenstein Law for telling your story.
Our personal injury lawyers are here to fight for your rights. While compensation can't take away the experience of the assault, it can help you overcome it.
Contact us today or call for a free consultation. Our phone and online chat service is available 24/7, 365 days a year.