Modern Travel Safety
Accidents can happen anywhere at anytime. Whether you’re at home, on the road, in the air, or on the sea, you need the best legal representation at all times. However, with the introduction of online travel communities and the “sharing economy,” which includes companies such as AirBnB and Uber, assessing liability in such travel situations is more difficult than ever.
What is the Sharing Economy?
The Sharing Economy is a socio-economic infrastructure in which consumers are able to bargain and exchange personal goods and services outside of and in more innovative ways than traditional avenues of commerce. Mainly conducted through community-based online methods, the sharing economy is gaining more traction among modern consumers every day.
However, because the sharing economy is still in its infancy, there are many apparent weaknesses in the regulations that govern its many components. Take AirBnB, for example. The current body of law that controls AirBnB and companies like it is severely under-equipped to respond to and address the many legal disputes that continue to arise from incidents that occur at AirBnB locations. And as more and more companies form to capitalize on the sharing economy, that grey area is poised to widen in the coming years.
That’s why the Law Office D. Hardison Wood is proud to take on these cases. We’re here to explain why these cases are so complicated, how they work, and specifically, what to do if you’re injured while using such online, user-generated travel communities.
Legal Loopholes in the Sharing Economy
The critical difficulty when handling cases involving the Sharing Economy is the fact that this particular field of law is severely underdeveloped and ill-prepared to address certain situations which may have been unforeseeable at the time of conception.
However, one of the key reasons for the incompleteness is the basic nature of a sharing economy. In essence, a sharing economy combines individual rights with rights of commercial entities – basically equating the two. This spurs a myriad of confounding disputes that sometimes must be litigated blindly, i.e. without the guidance of any truly applicable precedent. The result is an area in which victims are seldom aware of their legal options. On the other hand, the lack of precedent makes no case unwinnable and no injury unmendable.
AirBnB Housing Regulations
The vaguest areas of AirBnB litigation are taxation and housing law due to statutory discrepancies between the states governing each legal field. Despite the fact that AirBnB’s Terms of Service section refers consumers to laws of the specific locality in which they are renting, any blatant, sweeping outline of liability remains murky at best. Moreover, legislation has been introduced in certain states, like New York, to clarify the existence of the consumer within the short-term rental industry, as well as stipulate taxing regulations – making any universal, cookie-cutter legal interpretations less likely.
AirBnB Tax Regulations
New York City’s Department of Finance, in response to various challenges to AirBnB’s operation in the City, deemed AirBnB exempt from the state’s hotel room occupancy tax on the grounds that it allows hosts and guests to form private contracts for accommodation. Unclear still is whether or not local AirBnB residents are tax-exempt as well. And given that little has been heard from other states in regards to local legislation governing AirBnB’s tax status, outcomes of these kinds of cases are much less predictable.
AirBnB Hosts Liability
Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover commercial activity, i.e., if an owner is running a business out of his/her home, homeowners insurance does not cover any liability. So despite AirBnB’s efforts to “help” their participants by handing out ONLY $1 million to users in over 10,000 locations throughout the U.S. – which will barely put a dent in aggregate claims nationwide – most hosts’ homeowners insurance will not cover them for any damages that occur.