On October 30, 2022, three Americans who had traveled to Mexico City for Day of the Dead celebrations were found dead in an Airbnb. The mysterious deaths were later revealed to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Investigators report that an improperly installed water heater in the La Rosita vacation rental unit was the source of the deadly gas leak that caused the terrible tragedy. The case is still under investigation.
The night before the deaths were discovered, one of the victims spoke with her boyfriend over the phone and mentioned that she had been feeling ill. After the call suddenly dropped, the victim’s boyfriend contacted the property’s Airbnb host and asked the host to check on his girlfriend and the other travelers with her.
The host went to the property with the police, who reported a strong gas smell upon discovering that the victims were inside the property and unresponsive. Later, the host informed the victim’s boyfriend that all 3 of the travelers had been pronounced dead.
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Victims’ families plan to file a lawsuit
The mothers of the 3 victims have now announced plans to file a lawsuit against Airbnb. The 3 women claim Airbnb should require every rental on the rental platform to have a carbon monoxide detector.
The parents’ lawsuit would not be the first time the vacation rental startup has been sued for not requiring carbon monoxide detectors.
Traditional hotels have also come under scrutiny due to tourist deaths. In May of 2022, another case of carbon monoxide poisoning caused the death of 3 Americans who were staying at a Sandals resort in the Bahamas.
Airbnb claims the Mexico City rental at which the victims stayed is now suspended from the site.
The rental agency also claims it offers smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to eligible hosts and that it has given more than 200,000 detectors to date. According to Airbnb, hosts are encouraged to confirm they have smoke and carbon monoxide detectives in their listed properties.
Potential lawsuit implications for Airbnb
The absence of a carbon monoxide detector on the listed property raises critical questions that may affect the manner in which Airbnb continues to operate.
A court ruling against Airbnb would hold the rental platform to a higher level of responsibility in establishing safety standards and ensuring each listed property complies with those standards. Ensuring compliance is likely to be a challenge for the rental platform because its properties are located around the world.
It’s possible Airbnb will argue that it is unreasonable for courts to hold the online rental platform responsible for checking every property because Airbnb ultimately offers an exchange for peer-to-peer transactions.
Personal Injury 101: A Beginner’s Guide
Can you sue someone if they were careless and it caused you harm?
To sue someone for being careless, you have to show 3 things:
- The person had a responsibility to be careful around you. A legal term for that is “duty of care.”
- The person did not act carefully.
- You got hurt or something was damaged because of the person’s carelessness.
This is called “negligence.”
If you or your injury attorney can prove all of these things, you may be able to get money from the person to help pay for the harm they caused.
Preventing similar tragedies in the future
In the future, Airbnb and similar platforms may require guests to visibly inspect properties upon arrival and upload photo evidence or complete a safety checklist to confirm the property meets reasonable safety standards.
The vacation rental startup may also require hosts to upload photos prior to each stay or complete a checklist to indicate the listed property meets the platform’s minimum safety requirements.
Airbnb may also enlist authorized local contractors to complete site inspections prior to approving properties to be listed on the platform.
If accidents continue to happen, vacation rental companies will likely be required to produce written safety policies and monitor the properties advertised on their platforms more closely to ensure compliance.
Now that peer-to-peer vacation rentals have become more accessible, courts will have to decide the extent to which the companies that host the platforms are responsible for resulting personal injuries. If the Mexico City victims’ families prevail in their lawsuit against Airbnb, the rules will likely change for other companies in the sharing economy.
South Carolina catastrophic injury attorney representing family of wrongful death victim
Wrongful death cases can be complex, and it is important to have an experienced legal team on your side to help you navigate the process and seek justice for your loved one.
Our attorneys will help you understand your rights and the best options available for your case. We will work with you to hold the responsible parties accountable.
If you are considering taking legal action after a wrongful death of a family member, contact us today.