Multiple news outlets reported that at least nine people suffered injuries after a balcony collapsed at a birthday party in Malibu on Saturday, May 8, 2021. The incident took place at an oceanfront VRBO rental property along Pacific Highway, about 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles. The homeowner had rented the home out for the weekend as a short-term rental, and the collapse was captured on a security camera of a neighboring home.
The Associated Press reported Code Enforcement was investigating possible rental code violations. Although the home reportedly had a valid short-term rental permit, US News reported “the home had been red-tagged to indicate that it is too dangerous to inhabit.” If the owner or the rental company had knowledge of dangers on the property, they may be liable for resulting injuries.
History of Balcony Collapse Accidents
One witness described the beachfront deck collapse as a “freak accident.” We often hear this term to describe unexpected “perfect storm” type events. However, there is a long history of balcony collapse events, where balconies cannot withstand the weight of a large group of people. In June 2003, when a balcony collapsed during a party at a Chicago apartment building, 13 people were killed, and 57 others were injured. A balcony collapse in 2015 in Berkley, CA killed six people. Other deck and balcony collapse events have been reported in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
In 2019, Inside Edition ran a segment on the dangers of balconies, revealing more than forty million decks in the U.S. are more than 20 years old. Two years later, the number of dangerous decks and balconies continues to go up. Many apartment buildings and post notices forbidding large groups or parties on balconies.
Injuries and Deaths at VRBO/Airbnb Vacation Rentals
Short-term rentals like VRBO, Airbnb, and HomeAway offer the opportunity for unique experiences and gatherings, as well as income for a property owner. Although short-term vacation rentals have only been around a little over a decade, there have already been a number of serious injuries and deaths reported involving a range of events, including carbon monoxide exposure, falls, and fires. In one tragic accident, a man died after he decided to test out a rope swing at a Texas cottage, and the tree snapped in half and fell on his head.
What to do After an Accident at a VRBO/Airbnb Rental Home
If you are injured on a short-term rental property—such as Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway—do not delay in seeking medical attention immediately. Both for your own physical, mental, and emotional well-being as well as documenting your injuries for a claim, it is imperative that you seek medical care and follow up on your treatment provider’s recommendations for follow-up care.
You should preserve as much photo and video evidence as possible, documenting the accident scene and your injuries. A lawyer with experience proving landlord negligence and fighting for rights of injured tenants can help preserve security camera footage and other evidence which may help your claim.
Premises Liability Law in California
Premises liability laws cover injuries and deaths on the property. Although slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents are one of the most common types of accidents, premises liability protects individuals injured by all kinds of hazards. Although homeowners and short-term rental companies carry insurance, recovering compensation (and a fair amount) can be extremely challenging without a lawyer. Do not accept any offer of compensation before speaking to a reputable attorney.
VRBO Rental Property Owner Liability Coverage
All property owners owe their guests a duty of care to maintain their property in a reasonably safe manner and to warn any individual who enters their premises of known dangers. Owners may be liable to any individual who is lawfully on the premises and gets injured as a result of an unsafe condition. VRBO hosts are no exception to this rule.
However, it is important to note that just because rental property hosts are liable, it does not mean that you can seek recovery from their insurance carrier. Most insurance policies exclude injuries suffered by guests when the property is being used for business purposes, such as a VRBO rental. In fact, some carriers specifically exclude claims from homeowners who are rental property hosts. Fortunately, VRBO provides hosts and property managers with liability coverage. The policy covers all claims of up to $1 million (same as Airbnb Host Protection Insurance). If the host already has liability protection for their vacation-rental property, this policy is considered to be additional coverage.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer After a VRBO/Airbnb Rental Property Injury
Anyone injured in a VRBO or Airbnb vacation rental property, it is best to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The top-rated Los Angeles premises liability attorneys at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates can answer your questions, and help you understand how to protect your legal rights. If we represent you, we will fight to recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to. Under our contingency fee agreement, there are no upfront fees and we are only paid if we recover money for you.
With multiple offices located in Los Angeles, El Segundo, Irvine, Riverside and San Diego, where we proudly help victims injured in vacation-rental properties across Southern California. For more information or to schedule a free consultation with a Los Angeles premises liability lawyer, please call 949-727-9300.
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