A Vancouver woman who allegedly slipped in the bathtub of a Salt Spring Island Airbnb and fractured her neck is suing the platform and the hosts for negligence1)LEE, Kathleen v AIRBNB INC. VLC-S-S-186478. But the hosts and the company are arguing that they cannot be held liable as per Section 16 of Airbnb Terms, which states:
“You agree that some Experiences, Events, other Host Services, or the Group Payment Service may carry inherent risk, and by participating in such services, you choose to assume those risks voluntarily. For example, some Host Services may carry risk of illness, bodily injury, disability, or death, and you freely and willfully assume those risks by choosing to participate in those Host Services. You assume full responsibility for the choices you make before, during and after your participation in a Host Service or the Group Payment Service.”
The defendants are pleading that “plaintiff expressly used the Premises at her own risk and released these defendants from lability.”
Whatever the legal merits of this action may be, it appears to be a lose-lose case for Airbnb.
If Airbnb and the hosts prevail, the public perception would be that staying at an Airbnb is inherently risky as hosts have no obligation to keep their accommodation safe and secure.
A legal victory for the guests will render Section 16 of Airbnb Terms of no force in effect, opening up Airbnb and hosts all over Canada for more personal injury claims. Since Airbnb offers hosts on its platform a million US dollar Host Protection Insurance, a series of lawsuits could get very expensive very quickly for the company.
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