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Who is liable when you are injured at an Airbnb in Costa Rica ?

by rpetersen

Who is liable when you are injured at an Airbnb in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is one of the top vacation destinations around the world. Airbnb is a popular sharing platform that some vacation travelers to Costa Rica use consistently over traditional hotels. Most of us that use the Airbnb platform do so without any incident. However a recent case in Costa Rica highlights what can go wrong. When something does go wrong how will you be compensated ?

The Carla Stefaniak Case

Carla Stefaniak had spent time traveling through Costa Rica with no incident until her last night when she booked a room through the Airbnb platform at Villa Buena Vista. The 7 unit building located in the western suburb of San Jose in San Antonio de Escazu was converted to short term vacation rentals advertised on platforms such as Airbnb.
Carla Stefaniak was assaulted and murdered by the security guard of Villa Buena Vista, Bizmark Espinosa Martinez. Since then it has been established that he was an illegal Nicaraguan immigrant with not authorization to be in the country and let alone work in the country. Despite this, according to a recent lawsuit filed in the Hillsborough County Circuit Court of the State of Florida by the Estate of Carla Seganiak the security guard was given full access to all rental units and lived on the premises as well.

Premises Liability and Failure to Provide Security

In the United States you have well developed premises liability law which stipulates that property owners owe different duties to visitors on their land, depending on the type of visitor. An Airbnb guest would be known as an invitee because they have been invited to enter your premises. This distinction places upon the property owner the duty to exercise a certain degree of care to make sure the property is in a reasonably safe condition so that guests who visit are safe. You also have mandatory insurance obligations such as homeowner’s insurance that provide coverage for guest injured on your property.

How about Costa Rica ?

sWhile there is a well developed regulatory framework for the hotel industry in Costa Rica this is not the case for online platforms such as Airbnb when you are dealing with private property owners. Do they have insurance to cover any injuries to their guests ? What precautions are they taking to provide safety to their guests ?
The lawsuit filed against both Airbnb and the property owner Villa Buena Vista alleges negligence to provide security and direct liability for the actions of the employee. Other causes of action are also set forth so I am sure that this case will be closely monitored by the sharing platforms and their property owners.
Airbnb did roll out a “Host Protection Insurance” which provided up to one million dollars worth of coverage for the bodily injury and property damage claims of third parties. However it is questionable if that coverage would extend to intentional acts of third parties under these circumstances.
As you can see the issues that can arise surrounding the liability in an Airbnb can be complicated and even more so when you throw foreign law into the mix. In the case of Carla Stefaniak the estate opted to file suit in the United States based on Florida law that allows jurisdiction in a Florida court over defendants that have contacts with the State by doing business, advertising or promoting products or services within the state.

I am attaching the full content of the lawsuit that was filed in this case below.

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