CouchSurfing is an online service – both a social networking and a hospitality exchange service – that connects people who are interested in travel. It is accessible both through a website online and a mobile app. Couchsurfing was founded in 2003 as a nonprofit organization; later in 2011, it became a for-profit corporation. Recently, in 2020, the company shifted over to a subscription-based model. Members can pay $2/month or $15/year to use the service; in addition, members have an option to pay a one-time $60 fee to be verified by the company (this is supposed to verify their name/identity and allegedly increase safety). Since stays with hosts are completely free, this is the only way that the company makes a profit.
Free stays with people that you only know through an online profile sounds like a recipe for disaster. Although those looking for accommodations can interact online with a person before meeting in-person and staying with them in their home, there is absolutely no guarantee that the in-person interaction will be safe. In fact, the company claims not to be liable for any incident that could occur during stays with their hosts.
If you were injured on property while Couch Surfing, whether you suffered bed bug bites, sexual assault, assault and battery, or any other incident that led to harm, you might have grounds to file an injury claim. Of course, you could potentially sue the property owner, but you might also have grounds to sue the company for the harm that you suffered – even if they claim not to be liable for any incident.
For more information about your right to file a lawsuit if you were injured on a CouchSurfing property during your stay, do not hesitate to contact a CouchSurging injury attorney as soon as possible. Here at Downtown L.A. Law Group, our experts are ready to evaluate your situation and fight for your right to sue for the harm that you suffered. Do not hestiate to contact our experts as soon as possible.
CouchSurfing Safety and Terms of Service
The company has a number of safety recommendations to their users. Some of these recommendations include the following:
- Reviewing profiles and references thoroughly before meeting up with another member
- Trusting your instincts and having a backup plan (to allow you to quickly leave a potentially unsafe situation and stay elsewhere)
- Keeping communication strictly through CouchSurfing (not giving out personal contact information until you meet with them and feel comfortable giving them more access to you)
- Leaving honest references about your experiences to help other members who might be considering connecting with the same member that you connected with
- Reporting negative experiences to the team
Perhaps the most important feature available through CouchSurfing is the ability to report issues to the team. Here, you will find three fields with a number of options to choose from – a main category, a sub category, and a more specific what do you need help with field. For example, if your host acted inappropriately towards you in an in-person encounter, you would choose the Trust & Safety option, followed by the Reporting an Offline Experience option, and finally the Inappropriate Behavior option. To open a report surrounding your experience, you will need to send the team a link of the profile of the CouchSurfing member that you are reporting along with a description of what happened. Users also have the option to send attachments, which could include photos and videos, for instance. For more information about how to file a claim in that app, contact us immediately. We are ready to walk you through the process.
“If you interact with anyone through our Services who you feel is acting or has acted inappropriately, including but not limited to offensive, violent or sexually inappropriate behavior, who steals from you or engages in any other disturbing conduct, we strongly encourage you to immediately report such person to the appropriate authorities and to us by contacting us using the Couchsurfing Help Center. Please note that although we encourage you to report misconduct, we are not responsible or liable for our members’ actions, and we are not obligated to take any action.”
Is Couch Surfing Mobile App Liable if I get Injured?
How can I contact them by phone? Do they have an injury hotline or a claims department? Although they do not have an injury hotline that affected parties can contact by phone or a claims department, they do have a help center in which members can report misconduct. Although things might seem impossible (including how to contact them by phone or how to file an injury claim), it is still possible to file an accident claim.
With the help of an experienced accident attorney, you could take action against the company and sue them – even if they refuse to take responsibility for the harm that you suffered. One of our experienced attorneys can help you establish liability and help you sue.
CouchSurfing and Exposure to Bed Bug Infestations
When traveling, finding a safe place to rest is among the most important things. Unfortunately, unsuspecting travelers could be exposed to bed bug infestations when they are hosted through the CouchSurfing app. There could be bed bugs on the sleeping area, whether it’s a couch, a sofa couch, a pull-out bed, or an air mattress on the floor. Mattresses or even bedding (including sheets, blankets, and pillows) could be infested. This could result in bed bug bites (other physical injuries), mental and emotional distress caused by the exposure to the bed bug infestation, and property damage.
Who is liable for any harm resulting from exposure to bed bug infestations during a stay with a host through CouchSurfing? Of course, the property owner could be liable for any harm that guests suffer on their property. However, CouchSurfing could be liable in some cases. When can CouchSurfing be liable? Even though the company denies liability in their terms and conditions, they could still face liability if they knew of the risk present to their users – for instance, if they had received reports of bed bug infestation from previous guests but failed to take any action to deactivate the host’s account.
CouchSurfing and Sexual Assault
Staying at a stranger’s home regardless of previous interactions online or in-person could always lead to incidents, including sexual assault. If you were sexually assaulted by your host or another person on the property, the property owner could be liable for the rape and any other harm associated with the sexual assault. After being sexually assaulted during your stay on a property available through CouchSurfing, you might have grounds to file a lawsuit against the property owner as well as against the company (especially if they had already received reports of sexual assault or sexual misconduct and failed to take any action. For more information about your rights if you were sexually assaulted, you should speak with a CouchSurfing sexual assault attorney immediately.
CouchSurfing and Assault and Battery
If you suffered assault and battery during your stay with a CouchSurfing host, whether you were beaten up by the host or by anyone else on the property, you might have grounds to take legal action. Of course, you could sue the property owner for the harm that you suffered on their property. If CouchSurfing was aware of the situation and failed to act – that is, previous guests of the host had reported incidents and safety concerns – then victims might have grounds to take action against the company for assault and battery while couch surfing.
How We Can Help
If you suffered harm while you were being hosted through Couchsurfing, you might have grounds to file an injury lawsuit. Our lawyers can help you file an injury claim and recover the compensation that you are owed. What if you were injured in a foreign country, like France, Italy, England, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, or any country in South America? Because the company’s headquarters are in the U.S., we can still help you sue, even if your claim is an international claim.
For more information about your right to file a lawsuit for the harm that you suffered while Couchsurfing, do not hesitate to contact the experts at our law firm immediately. Our experts are ready to fight for your rights and help you recover the compensation that you are owed. We offer free legal services so that you will not have to worry about paying any upfront legal fees. These legal services are available as part of our Zero-Fee guarantee. In addition, we work on a strict contingency structure, so you will not have to pay anything until after winning your injury claim. If you don’t win, you won’t be responsible for paying any legal costs.
If you are ready to discuss your claim with our experts, contact us today.