Bed bugs have become more and more present as the population has increased and travel has become more commonplace. Now, bed bugs are able to commute from place to place by latching onto luggage, clothing, merchandise, and more. Before, bed bugs were usually able to move in the rare times that candidates traveled. As such, there are more reports of the creatures and the infestations affecting numerous establishments, from homes and apartment complexes to hotels and nursing facilities.
In the last year alone, 97% of polled pest control professionals have reported attending to bed bug infestations. These individuals are usually called in to deal with another issue. The callers, in 84% of cases, mistake the bed bugs for fleas. Less commonly, they believe them to be roaches. Mixing up fleas and bed bugs is actually quite common. Pest control professionals have to use a lot of resources and methods to eradicate the bugs, and 68% of exterminators state that bed bugs are the most difficult pests to get rid of.
Reports have shown that the locations with high population density and poverty lines have increased occurrences of bed bugs. For example, Baltimore, MD, is the city with the most active bed bug pest control services. Los Angeles ranks 4th on the same list; on average, there are about 55 bed bug reports per month in the county of Los Angeles. However, this number can be deceiving; many victims of bed bugs do not make reports or let anyone know that they are suffering from such an infestation. If they do, they may be met with shame, face guilt, or feel embarrassment. Some landlords may also deny liability and not take the report seriously.
Victims of bed bug infestations take legal action from time to time. Not every case is settled or goes to trial, but those that do wind up with the victims leaving with somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 for their damages. Larger settlements and verdicts are more common in cases of extreme negligence or when numerous individuals are affected.
Bed bugs are incredibly annoying creatures that feast on human blood. They are primarily nocturnal and prefer to make nests near where their victims sleep or rest, choosing to stay in damp and dark locations. They come out to feast at any time but usually do so when the victim is incapacitated. They prefer this because of their biological traits. For one, they can only crawl and do not have wings or powerful legs to jump with. As a result, they will only travel about 100 feet for a meal, and would like to get back to their nests as quickly as possible. Second, they have an anesthetic substance in their venom that prevents their bites from being felt by victims – sleeping individuals will not wake up due to the pain of the bite. Lastly, they have an anticoagulant in their venom that allows them to drink uninterrupted for minutes at a time.
Many people mistake bed bugs for fleas. Fleas are differently shaped, lighter in color, and can jump great distances. Bed bugs, on the other hand, are reddish-brown in color, round-bodied and flat, and do not stay near animals. Although fleas can and do bite humans, they primarily feast on other creatures. Bed bugs are only about 5 to 7 mm in length. They are also identifiable due to their musty odor, which can be described as slightly sweet.
One of the reasons bed bugs are so frustrating is their hardiness. They are not easy to kill and they can survive many adverse circumstances. For example, they can live in high heat; they can also go without eating for over a year at a time. As long as they have had some blood or sustenance, they can enter a perfectly normal state and not starve.
Bed bug bites are also unique. Bed bugs will usually bite in a zigzag pattern throughout their feasting time. Once they have finished, they will go back to their nests. The bites may not appear overnight; it can take a few days for them to manifest as raised welts or bumps. There is not as much itching present as there is on flea bites, but some individuals do experience intense itching, which may lead to the wounds opening and becoming sores. In the worst cases, the bites can lead to allergic reactions and permanent scarring.
Bed bugs take about 5 weeks to reach full maturity. Female bed bugs lay about 5 eggs per day and can lay a few hundred in their lifetimes. The eggs are small, oval, off-white, and found in hard-to-see places. They often nest behind bed boards, under bed frames and mattress, in blanket and bed folds, behind picture frames and electrical outlets, underneath carpets and dressers, inside upholstery pillows, in drawers, in vents, and more.
If you need to find a bed bug nest, hunt for the eggs or try to locate the shed exoskeletons of juvenile bed bugs.
A common mistake is believing that bed bugs are only present in dirty areas or that they make their nests in filth. In truth, bed bugs are comfortable almost anywhere; the cleanliness of a location may just indicate the responsiveness and attentiveness of staff and management, while a dirty establishment may not have a skilled or careful cleaning crew. They may miss nests and let infestations spread.
Locations of bed bugs can vary. The majority of bed bugs are found in homes, apartment buildings, and hotels. Studies have shown that there have been infestations discovered in nursing homes and facilities, hospitals, schools, daycare centers and sitting centers, offices and businesses, college dormitories, and boarding school quarters, and public trains and buses. Almost anywhere that features a high turnover rate of visitors has a greater potential risk for bed bug infestations.
Premises Liability with Bed Bug Infestations
Laws dictate that property owners must provide clean and sanitary quarters for all individuals who stay there. This law generally applies to invitees, or customers. Invitees are individuals who come onto a premises for a mutual benefit, usually with the exchange of money. Licensees are those who are social guests; they are given a lesser duty of care than invitees, who must be protected.
A premises liability claim can be brought forth if the property owner:
Caused the infestation to occur, whether by bringing in infested furniture or otherwise introducing the bed bugs to the environment
Knew about the infestation and chose ot do nothing to alleviate the situation, such as in cases where previous tenants raised complaints or when current visitors brought the issue to light
Did not know about the infestation but reasonably should have if the owner had been properly diligent and attentive, such as in cases where hotel rooms are not adequately inspected for days or weeks at a time
California law states that property owners must ensure that all aspects of living quarters or dwellings must be kept clean and sanitary, free from filth or contamination, and must not be infested with any pests like lice, fleas, rats, roaches, and bed bugs. These rules can apply to apartment owners and landlords in the sense that the units must be clean and not unsanitary. If a landlord knew about the issue or failed to take proper steps, he could be held liable for the injuries and damages stemming from the infestation.
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As a hotel or motel tenant, you have several distinct rights, such as the right to clean quarters, right to legal action if you are harmed while on the property, right to abide by a contract stating your room must be sanitary, and more. The staff must protect you and ensure that you are not placed in harm’s way, which includes being in rooms that are infested with bed bugs.
As a tenant in an apartment, you should make sure to adequately document the inside of the unit before moving in. You should not move into a location that has a bed bug issue, and a landlord can be held accountable if he does not eradicate the issue prior to your move-in. However, you will need to have proof that he bugs were there beforehand. Thus, it is handy to have photos of the state of the unit when you moved in. Many landlords will say that you brought the bed bugs in yourself or that you were responsible in some way For example, if you went on a trip and came back with a small amount of bed bugs in your pocket, they could affect your entire home and an spread like wildfire
Some areas specify that landlords can be held accountable for the cleanup of bed bugs and other infestations by virtue of being the property owner. Others stipulate that it is up to the responsibility of the tenants to clean.
You may be able to file a specific premises liability claim against a landlord if there is a breach of habitability (sanitation), breach of contract (violation of a lease agreement wherein services that were owed were not given even though rent was paid), private nuisance violation (landlord’s unreasonable interference or actions caused the tenant to not be able to enjoy his property and resulted in substantial damages), or an intentional infliction of emotional distress (conduct was outrageous and caused by recklessness, which contributed to the individual’s severe emotional trauma).
There are some murkier laws with other establishments, like AirBNB, dormitories, public transit systems, and more. Essentially, an attorney will seek to prove that you were owed a duty of care that was violated by a responsible party, and the violation of duty led to an incident that caused you to sustain physical injuries.
If you have discovered bed bugs in your home or at a hotel, it is crucial that you immediately take steps to prevent the infestation from spreading and to document everything as meticulously as possible. There may be some steps that you can take specifically at hotels or places of business, and others that apply to all situations. You can read the entire list below. This list will allow you to be safe after an infestation and will provide you with a solid foundation for a personal injury claim against the responsible party for the infestation.
Firstly, you should seek medical attention as quickly as possible after the incident. Although bed bug bites may take a few days to show up, you should see a doctor as soon as you notice symptoms. You may have an allergic reaction to the bites and need medication to calm the symptoms down. Although bed bugs are not known to generally carry diseases, they are still creatures that feast and blood which is a communicable agent. You should be appropriately tested to cover all of your bases. Any medical tests, doctor’s notes, treatments, and receits should be kept and documented.
Next, you should take pictures of the bed bugs in every area you can find, whether they are in the bed or in their nests around the quarters. You will need appropriate photographic evidence of your injuries and bites as well. It is extremely unlikely that you will be able to hold on to the furniture or any items as evidence, so photo proof or video footage will have to suffice.
You should then procure copies of any agreements or contracts that you signed, or any proof that you were a legal dweller in the location. You may want to print a credit card or debit card statement showing that you purchased lodging at a hotel room, a signed copy of the lease agreement, and more.
It will help to add eyewitness testimony and accounts to your evidence pile. You may be staying with other people in the hotel or apartment, and roommates and fellow travelers can say that they were bitten or saw the bed bugs as well. In some cases, you can get the word of cleaning staff, but this can prove difficult; they may be compromising job security by doing so.
After you have gathered a fair amount of evidence immediately after the incident, you should contact the property owner to take the next step. If you were at a hotel, you could file an incident report or a complaint. It is extremely important that you do not alert the hotel to the presence of the bed bugs until after you have gathered your evidence. The manager will likely usher you out f the room so it can be cleaned, and in doing so, will erase all of the evidence you need for your claim. You should not accept any special vouchers, discounts, promotions, offers, or refunds, either; doing so can damage the chances of success with your lawsuit, as the defendant can claim that you were appropriately compensated.
If you had to call pest control yourself, you should keep the receipt and ask for verification from the company that your home was infested. You may need to temporarily move, which could accrue other expenses, which should be meticulously tracked.
After you have gathered all o the evidence you could and taken all the necessary routes, you should contact an attorney to move to the lawsuit phase. It can be extremely difficult to file a bed bug lawsuit against a hotel or landlord if you have never taken legal action before. The insurance agents and lawyers on the other side will fight to preserve profits and prevent the defendant from being found guilty or from having his reputation smeared. They will try to make you out to be a liar or claim that you were the root cause of the bed bugs. You may not have legal experience, knowledge, or funds to go through with such a lengthy claim. It is in your best interest to leave the legal process up to a qualified attorney.
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Value of a Bed Bug Lawsuit
The value of a bed bug lawsuit will vary depending on many factors. Because bed bug infestations and injuries are usually not terribly severe and result and lasting damages, the compensation is often much lower than car accident and slip and fall cases, for example. However, there are other factors that are weighed more heavily in bed bug cases.
Your claim will be valued by an insurance agent representing the party you are suing. He will look at many factors and will come up with an offer. This offer may be spot on if you have enough damning evidence, or it may be extremely low if the agent is only concerned with preserving profits. Insurance companies would prefer not to pay out all the claims they are hit with each day, and the agent will try to discredit you and your situation in any way possible.
The first and most important consideration will be your injuries, and how extensive and severe they were. If a victim suffered an allergic reaction and got permanent scarring from bed bug bites, his claim offer would be much larger than someone who was not visibly bitten and who did not have a need for medical treatment.
Your age and job type will also be considered, as well as how much of an impact the injuries you suffered had on your career. If you were unable to return to work for some time, you would be given a larger offer than if you could immediately work again. Additionally, the agent will look at your level of negligence. If you were partially responsible for the bed bug infestation, the defendant would not be held completely liable and would thus not owe the full requested amount.
Because insurance agents are tedious and difficult, they will likely not answer the phone or your messages regarding your claim. It will take two weeks or so for the claim to be received and considered, but if you do not have legal representation, the agent will just let it sit. He can then make a small offer after a few months; many people will be so starved for compensation that they will jump at any offer given to them after a period of time. With legal assistance, this will not be the case, and the agent will be forced to be on top of your claim and making worthwhile offers throughout.
Each bed bug infestation case is different. There is no guarantee that a victim will receive compensation, and the amount that can be won varies from case to case. Sometimes, an attorney may be more skilled and can wrestle a hefty settlement from an insurance agent. Other times, a jury may not agree with a plaintiff’s point of view and not feel the evidence is enough to show liability, resulting in no damages paid out at all. We have provided numerous settlements and verdicts below for you to consider. Bear in mind that these cases do not show what you will receive if you have similar injuries, but only what other victims have won.
McKindras v.Heritage Inn
In Martha McKindra, Alex McKindra, and Marcus McKindra v. Heritage Inn of Rancho Cucamonga Inc. a California Corporation, a family was afflicted by bed bugs at a hotel.
The McKindra family stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn after needing to drop off a vehicle amongst each other. They checked in to the hotel as a midway point between their homes. In the late hours of the night, the family woke up and found their beds covered in bed bugs. Alex and Martha McKindra, the parents, were both visibly bitten. The family attempted to move to another room, but hotel staff said that the hotel was full and decided to transfer them to another location. When transferred to the other location, the McKindras were given a note that explained that they were being moved for bed bugs.
Both parents received bites to the arms and legs, but Martha suffered bites to her face as well. She went to a hospital for an allergy medication and skin cream; in the wake of the incident, she was left with scarring. She developed emotional trauma from the incident. Further, Alex suffered emotional trauma as well, including distress, worry, and fear. Marcus, the son, was not visibly bitten, but also bore the mental trauma associated with the bites.
Learn more about your options for compensation by calling (855) 339-8879.
The hotel admitted liability but did not concede that it had intentionally caused stress and intentionally inflicted emotional damage against the family. Defense stated that the staff did all they could to appropriately handle the situation, including moving the family to a different hotel. However, the jury did not agree, and awarded the family a total of nearly $550,000 for their traumas.
Park La Brea Tenants v. La Park La Brea, PLB Management, and Round the Clock Pest Control
In Vivian Hsu; Abraham Bernato; Guillermina Bernato; Lee Ellis; Ayal Erlich; Ethan Erlich, a minor; Kyle Johnson; Airika Kimble; David Kozin, a minor; Dmitriy Kozin; Likun Lin; Justine Poon; Alexander Shmulevich; Alla Shmulevich; Jason Stewart; and Mingming Yan v. La Park La Brea LLC; PLB Management LLC; and Round The Clock Pest Control Inc., apartment tenants sued for bed bug damages.
Numerous plaintiffs living at Park La Brea apartment complexes were exposed to bed bugs in their units. The plaintiffs ranged in age from infants to elderly individuals. The plaintiffs claimed that the pest control company was present for years and had made numerous recommendations to management on how to best educate the tenants on bed bug procedure. They were instructed to use heat treatments and to call K-9 units for assistance. The management did not heed the pest control company’s requests. To make matters worse, management did not provide any notice to tenants about the possibility or previous presence of bed bugs.
The plaintiffs all suffered from bed bug bites, scratches, itchiness, and more. Collectively, the patients did not accrue more than $2000 in hospital and medical expenses. All of the patients did claim extensive emotional trauma from the incidents, though. Many of the plaintiffs moved out after suffering the trauma.
The defense claimed that the management acted properly, provided a notice to the tenants about a nationwide increase in bed bugs (but not a specific message regarding their own property), and information meant to help tenants report an infestation and deal with it. They also said that the defendants followed the instructions, but some refused treatment.
In the end, there was a mixed verdict awarding some plaintiffs damages, holding some defendants partially liable, and not paying others. The total money awarded was nearly $3.5 million.
Martinez and Maravillas v. Amusement Six Apartments
In Lilliana Martinez; Jorge Maravilla; Jorge Ruben Maravilla and Juanita Isabel Maravilla, Minors, by and through their Guardian Ad Lietm, Lillian Martinez v. Amusement Six Apartments LLC, a family was bitten by bed bugs at an apartment unit.
A family of four, including two children aged 3 months and 3 years old (Juanita and Jorge Jr., respectively), complained of bed bugs after discovering the bites on their son. The parents, Lilliana and Jorge, also suffered some bites, but not to the extent that their son did. They found the bugs after searching for days once they noticed the marks on Jorge Jr. The family reported the incident to their apartment complex managers, but they did not take any action or contact pest control until 9 days after the incident.
The family claimed that the bugs wholly infested their home, living in their furniture, clothes, and beds. They complained about annoyances, sleeplessness, humiliation, anxiety, scarring, and other kinds of emotional or psychological distress. Once treatment came, the family stated that it was ineffective; the pest control company did not eradicate the bugs altogether and left a dangerous chemical present in their home. Management did not replace the rug as it intended in a timely manner, either. The main point, then, pertained ot the timeliness of the responses to the family’s requests.
The defense pointed out numerous issues with the plaintiff’s report. First, they said that the family was the only group of tenants in the apartment complex affected, which indicated a problem they created. They said that reports did not line up with treatment dates and that the family signed an agreement to return, even n the middle of the complaints. The defense argued that Apartment Six acted in a timely manner despite the family failing to provide adequate notice. As a result, they said that the seriousness of the plantiffs’ damages were not conclusive, and they did not provide ample enough evidence to show the emotional traumas they claimed.
The jury decided in favor of the family, determining that Apartment Six was almost wholly negligent in their actions. The total award was just over $1.5 million.
The more individuals who were bitten, the more evidence you have of an infestation. This may sway the insurance agency or court toward siding with you. Although there are not many opportunities for medical expense reimbursement, there are ample opportunities for emotional trauma reimbursement. This is the most common damage requested in bed bug infestation cases.
Victims of bed bug infestations can be fully covered for their damages. It is often a mentally draining ordeal and can leave you with a sour taste for weeks. Some people even become paranoid and afraid of staying in unfamiliar locations, while others may become overly cleanly and obsessive. By filing a lawsuit, you stand to gain the following types of compensation:
Medical bills for any treatment, allergy medication, doctor’s visits, surgery for scarring, and more
Future medical treatment coverage
Property damage for your belongings and personal items that were lost, damaged, thrown away, or otherwise harmed in the incident, which may include furniture, clothing, and more
Lost wages from time you missed work because of the infestation, such as by having no vehicle or home to go to, as well as future missed income
Pain and suffering damages for PTSD, anxiety, fear, emotional distress, psychological trauma, and more
Learn more about your legal options: call (855) 339-8879 and speak with a representative now.
Punitive damages are awarded in times of gross negligence or an intent to cause harm, but they are very difficult to win due to being viewed as severe or excessive. Only a qualified lawyer with experience in bed bug lawsuits will be able to prove that the defendant acted in such a manner and should be appropriately punished.
Statute of Limitations for Bed bug claims
A bed bug lawsuit is a personal injury lawsuit based in premises liability. Therefore, according to California law, you have 2 years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. If you do not file a lawsuit within this time period, you won’t be able to collect any compensation in the future. This will prove problematic, as your damages will not ever get paid off. However, if you fill a claim quickly, all of your evidence will be preserved and you will have a better chance of success.
Many claims go without being filed because victims do not know the exact dates they must adhere to. They may not even know that they are eligible for any extensions to the statute of limitations. For example, minors can wait until they are 18 years old before they sue, and if a defendant leaves the state, the statute can be postponed until he returns.
You can speak with a lawyer to determine the deadlines for your claim and if you have any extenuating circumstances that would allow you to file later than usual.
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