Airbnb Customer Viciously Attacked By Rottweiler: Who Is Responsible?

According to Airbnb’s website, their business “is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone.”

It’s the ideal alternative for those who want to have a unique experience on vacation rather than selecting a local hotel chain. Airbnb offers their customers the opportunity to save money while renting an array of personally owned apartments, castles, or even a dog, believe it or not, as reported by Business Insider.

One of Airbnb's unusual property offerings.

With over one million locations in close to 35,000 cities and 190 countries, the sky is the limit in finding your perfect spot. That’s exactly what Mike Silverman thought until he was viciously attacked by an Airbnb host’s Rottweiler. He suffered horrible injuries, including a six-square-inch gash in his arm and numerous puncture wounds, as reported by the New York Times.

Mike Silverman, 58, and his wife have travelled to various places throughout the United States as well as outside of the country over the past yea. The couple have used Airbnb in order to stay within their desired budget of $100 per night for room and board.

Mr. and Mrs. Silverman are certain to do extensive research on each place they stay, reading reviews left by former tenants. They were pleased with the quaint home they found in Salta, Argentina, for their destination at the low price of $60 per night. However, the New York Times reveals that there was no mention of a dog in the Airbnb listing for this property.

Although the Silverman’s were surprised to see the Rottweiler at the Airbnb host’s home, they admit that the dog seemed calm, never barking or growling and seemed harmless. After a few days of being inside the home, Silverman decided to put out his hand for the dog to sniff in a very non-aggressive manner.

Suddenly, the Rottweiler pounced on Silverman, locking his jaws and sinking its teeth deep into Silverman’s forearm. The dog must have made contact with the plate in Silverman’s arm from a previous accident and loosened its grip momentarily — just long enough for Silverman to feverishly pull his arm from the animals jaws. Silverman described that moment to the New York Times.

“I looked down, and I knew instantly it was bad. I could see my artery, the tendons exposed and the muscle. There was blood everywhere.”

Before the hospital would treat Silverman, they required a deposit. Silverman contacted the Airbnb host, who could not pay the deposit. Time was of the essence due to fear of infection in his gaping wound, and Silverman had to make arrangements to get the cash so he could be admitted to the hospital.

Due to the medical expenses and unexpected additional room and board fees, Silverman contacted Airbnb asking them to step in and reimburse him for his unexpected out-of-pocket expenses caused by their host’s dog. Airbnb refused to pay any medical expenses, as well as additional room and board. However, the company said it was within their policy to refund Mr. Silverman for the nights he originally booked.

Silverman was shocked to find out that Airbnb does not provide liability insurance on any property outside of the United States, and only began providing insurance within the United States for their hosts in late 2014 — six years after the company started in 2008.

According to the New York Times, even Airbnb’s liability insurance is secondary after their host makes an initial claim to their own insurance. This was very disturbing news to Silverman, who believes all travelers should be aware when traveling abroad with Airbnb. He wrote an email to Airbnb, as revealed by the New York Times, stating what this incident has cost him — above and beyond financial loss.

“There is also a pain and suffering element as well as, perhaps, permanent nerve damage. Have you ever been attacked by a large dog? When I close my eyes at night, I see this thing tearing at my arm and blood everywhere — which is exactly what happened.”

Airbnb simply replied, “Please understand our refund was an attempt to soften the impact of an unfortunate accident and to provide our best possible customer service to you. Unfortunately, per our terms of service, we are unable to consider any request for compensation in liability scenario such as this.”

They did wrap up their email with well wishes for a speedy recovery.

However, when Ron Lieber with the New York Times contacted the company directly, Airbnb began singing a different tune and asked for Mr. Silverman’s medical bills and lodging receipts, followed by an email written by Airbnb’s spokesman, Nick Papas.

He said, “Over 30 million guests have stayed on Airbnb, and these kinds of incidents are incredibly rare, but when they happen, we try to make things right. This was a terrible incident, and we’re working with the guest to help cover his medical and other expenses and we’ve provided a full refund.”

Mr. Papas continued to admit that Airbnb would be investigating their options in providing insurance outside of the United States. However, travelers should take heed to Mr. Silverman’s horrific experience when making global reservations with Airbnb. Hopefully, they will resolve their lack of global liability insurance for their hosts in the near future.

[Photo Credit: Airbnb.com, TechinAsia.com]