Bed bugs are very small insects that may hide in bedding, clothing, or carpets, that may cause injuries or irritation in people through biting people as they sleep. Further, injuries from bed bug bites may be severe, and they may cause fever, insomnia, skin patches, itchy skin, or other skin irritation or issues.
If you have been bitten by bed bugs, you may be able to file a lawsuit in order to recover for your personal injury damages. Lawsuits filed as a result of injuries suffered from bed bugs are common, with hotels, or landlords being sued by their patrons or tenants.
If you believe that you have a bed bug infestation in your apartment unit or home, before filing a lawsuit, you should first contact your landlord or complex manager and inform them in writing of the bed bugs. After this, your landlord will hire a qualified exterminator to enter and inspect your unit for bed bugs, and if they find any then be able to eliminate the bed bugs.
Landlords are required by law to make sure that the property that they rent are both safe and free from dangerous conditions under the implied warranty of habitability. The implied warranty of habitability provides that a landlord must make sure that the units they provide for rent do not violate health codes and are otherwise habitable.
If your unit or property becomes infested with bedbugs, at no fault of your own, then you may be able to hold your landlord liable for damages. Additionally, if the landlord knew that there was a bed bug infestation, but did not properly treat the unit for bed bugs, then they may be liable for a breach of the lease contract (if there is a bed bug addendum), breach of the implied warranty of habitability, or for other personal injury damages related to bed bugs.
An additional remedy that is available for a tenant includes withholding rent payments until the landlord addresses and provides a remedy for the bed bugs. In these situations, a tenant should first notify their landlord about the bed bug infestation, and give them an opportunity to get rid of the bed bugs.
If the landlord fails to fix the infestation, then the tenant is allowed to withhold rent or charge the landlord for the amount of money spent to correct the problem, such as hiring an exterminator. Further, a landlord may be held liable for damages relating to relocation costs of finding a new habitable apartment and would not be allowed to hold the tenant liable for rent if the lease is broken.
Additionally, some states have specific laws regarding bed bugs that may also make a landlord liable for bed bugs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), twenty three states have passed or enacted specific bed bug legislation.
For example, in Texas, a landlord may not knowingly rent a unit infested with bed bugs and must remedy the bed bug problem if:
- The tenant informs the landlord in writing;
- The tenant is not late on rent payments; and
- The infestation was not a result of the tenant or the tenant’s guests.
Other states also have laws that provide additional landlord liability for bed bugs.
Similar to landlord liability for bed bugs, hotels may also be held liable for damages suffered as a result of bed bugs. Hotel owners have a similar duty of care to their guests as landlords; hotels must also ensure that their hotel and rooms are safe and clean for guests to use. Further, if a hotel owner allows for guests to stay in rooms infested with bed bugs, then they may be considered to be negligent and held responsible for the injuries suffered by their guests.
Further, hotel owners will be held more responsible if they knew about a bed bug infestation, but failed to take action to correct the issue. In these cases, guests of the hotel may be able to recover additional damages. However, proving that a hotel knew of the infestation may be difficult, unless you obtain evidence of previous guests having complained about bed bugs.
In many cases injuries resulting from bed bugs will not appear until days after the guest stayed at the hotel. This means that a hotel owner may try and deny liability for the injuries by stating that the injuries could have occurred in a different location. Additionally, hotel owners may assert that the guests brought the bed bugs from their home or work, in order to avoid liability.
If you were damaged by bed bugs at a hotel, the hotel may be liable to pay for your medical expenses, reimburse you for your stay, and reimburse you for any other damages you may have suffered, such as getting rid of infested clothes.
As mentioned above, if you discover bed bugs or injuries from bed bugs appear on your body, then you should immediately document your injuries (like photographing the site of bites), and inform the person you believe is responsible for the bed bugs.
A landlord, hotel owner, or other responsible party will typically be allowed to a period to remedy the problem. However, as mentioned above, some states provide immediate remedies against landlords or hotel owners who knew of the situation, but failed to properly remedy it.
Further, courts will often hold a guest or tenant liable for not informing a responsible party of the infestation, as well as continuing to reside in the infested place. This liability on a guest or tenant, arises out of a duty for a person to mitigate damages.
For example, after you discover evidence of bed bugs, you should immediately remove yourself from being injured further, not continue to sleep in an infested bed and later claim additional damages.
As can be seen, damages that you may recover from a bed bug bite injury will vary by case, state, and who the responsible party is. Obviously if the responsible party for bed bugs is the person filing the claim, then they will not be allowed to recover, or will be limited in their recovery. However, victims injured by bed bugs will typically be able to recover for the following damages:
- Medical expenses related to the treatment of the injuries suffered by bed bugs;
- Costs related to relocating from an infested apartment, or having to stay somewhere else during the treatment;
- Costs related to the reimbursement of the tenant hiring an exterminator to treat the infestation;
- Costs related to the hotel stay, such as the charges for the room; or
- Costs related to the destruction of property due to the bed bug infestation, including costs associated with clothes, furniture, or other property ruined by the infestation or treatment.
As noted above, state laws may provide for additional damages against a landlord or hotel owner related to bed bugs.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have been injured by bed bug bites, you may be able to recover for your injuries from the responsible party. However, in order to succeed in a claim for bed bug injuries, there are many steps that are necessary to follow, including first informing the responsible party, documenting and gathering evidence, and filing a legal claim with the court.
Therefore, it may be in your best interests to consult with a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney before pursuing an action against a landlord or hotel owner. Often, a personal injury attorney will provide a free consultation, help you understand your rights, and help you understand if your case is viable. After hiring an attorney, they will be able to help you file a claim against the responsible party, and represent you in court, if necessary.