Recently, there have been several lawsuits filed against hotels and landlords for bed bug bites. Bed bugs have made an apparent comeback, even though at one point they have been nearly eradicated.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are pests that feed on human blood during the nighttime. Their bites are not painful, but the effects are felt once the victim wakes up. Bed bugs can enter into premises through luggage and clothing. They can survive for up to 18 months without feeding on any blood.
Bed Bugs in Apartment Buildings
Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their properties are fit for human habitation (i.e. "implied warranty of habitability"). If the landlord allows the property to fall into disrepair, or allows pest infestations (such as bed bugs) to take hold, they are liable to the tenant for any harm that results. Normally, landlords are given a chance to get rid of the bed bugs before legal action is taken. But the tenant may be relieved of the duty to pay rent, or a part thereof. And if all else fails, the tenant may also be entitled to compensation for any injuries or health problems that result from the infestation of bed bugs.
Additionally, damages may be higher if the tenant or guest can prove that the landowner knew about the bed bug infestation, and did not take reasonable steps to address it. You can also attempt to get out of your lease.
Bed Bugs in Hotels and Hospitals
Hotels and hospitals have high turnover rates with a constant flow of new guests. Thus, there is a greater chance for hotels and hospitals to be infested with bed bugs because guests can bring bed bugs with them. However, hotels and hospitals have a higher duty to keep their premises safe and habitable. If you have bed bugs bites from hotels and hospitals, then they may be liable to you for:
- Breach of implied warranty of habitability
- Violation of city health and safety codes
For example, in one publicized case, a luxurious hotel in London was sued after a guest and his wife each suffered hundreds of bites after staying there. In another, a former guest is suing a New York hotel for $20 million after suffering hundreds of bites over a period of four nights.
Steps You Should Take When Bitten
If bed bugs have bitten you, you should have proper records of it.
- Visit a doctor and get examined.
- Inform your apartment, hotel, or hospital manager.
- File a report with your city’s health department.
- Consult a personal injury lawyer.
Consulting a Lawyer
A personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether you have a case for your bed bug problem. He can also help you assess your damages, prove your case, and file the appropriate court papers to get you monetary damages.