What Happens If You’re Injured in an Airbnb?

The vacation rental service Airbnb has skyrocketed in popularity across the globe. I’m a premises liability attorney in Memphis, and in my hometown you can find Airbnb carriage house apartments, historic midtown homes, and balcony condos on the river, all for less than you’d spend at a hotel.

It’s a great deal for travelers and property owners, unless something goes wrong.

This week the New York Times reported a terrible story about an Airbnb trip gone awry:

Early in the evening of July 4, Micaela Giles’s mobile phone started sounding alerts, and a series of messages straight out of a horror movie began scrolling down her screen.

Her 19-year-old son told her that his Airbnb host in Madrid had locked him in the fourth-floor apartment where he was supposed to be staying and removed the key. The host was still there, he said, rattling knives around in the kitchen drawer and pressing him to submit to a sexual act. He begged his mother for help.

When she called Airbnb, its employees would not give her the address and would not call the police. Instead, they gave her a number for the Madrid police and told her to ask the police to call the company for the address. But the number led to a recording in Spanish that kept disconnecting her, she said, and when she repeatedly called back her Airbnb contact, the calls went straight to voice mail.


According to her son, Jacob Lopez, he was sexually assaulted that night. Eventually, he persuaded his host to free him. He returned home to Massachusetts and is in trauma therapy.

Just a few months ago, the same outlet reported another story about a vicious dog attack at an Airbnb in Argentina.

These are, of course, isolated instances. But Airbnb’s response to both has been troubling. In the dog attack case, Airbnb only offered to refund the rental. It wouldn’t pay for the victim’s medical bills, which were significant.

Airbnb only recommends that its hosts carry liability insurance. And some hosts are actually already renting the property from someone else who may not even know it’s on Airbnb. At the time of writing this, Airbnb doesn’t offer any liability insurance to guests. The company claims they assume their own risk. 

That means there are many, many situations where someone injured at an Airbnb won’t have any idea who is responsible for paying for it. This is upsetting for victims of terrible accidents AND cases of crime, like the alleged Madrid case. In both situations, the guest might need medical care and long-term therapy.

So What Can You Do?

That’s where a good attorney can change everything. Our premises liability lawyers help people who’ve been injured on someone else’s property. We identify who is responsible and which policy covers the accident. Then we work to make sure our clients get compensation. 

These cases are extremely complicated, and Airbnb’s industry is changing every day. The above examples are proof of what you’re up against. You really shouldn’t go it alone if you want to get compensated for your injuries.

If you have an Airbnb injury case, or if you’ve been injured on a rental property, please contact us today to speak with an Airbnb liability lawyer for free. We’d be happy to talk with you about your options.