The Growing Problem of Bed Bug Infestation
Bed bugs are not a new problem and the United States has had a long history of bed bugs from its’ earliest beginnings. Although bed bug populations dropped dramatically during the 50’s, the United States is one of many countries now experiencing an notable resurgence in the population of bed bugs and they’re now showing up everywhere from private homes and offices to luxury hotels. In California, coastal cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego have the most reports of bed bug infestations. In recent years, public health agencies across the country have been overwhelmed by complaints about bed bugs. On a daily basis, people of all ages and social backgrounds experience painful bites as a result of bed bugs. New reports of bed bugs are filed daily and the problem is growing.
This increasingly common problem occurs in hotel rooms and apartment buildings across the country. People from all walks of life are subjected to repeated bites on all areas of their bodies as a result of bed bugs. Every age group is affected including the elderly, infants, teenagers and adults. All can be bitten and they often suffer serious injuries as a result.
Hotel operators and managers of apartment building have a special obligation to guests and tenants to routinely inspect for bed bug infestations and take all necessary steps to exterminate bed bugs from their property. Victims of bed bug bites are entitled to compensation for all medical costs, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and property damage.
What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are insects that feed exclusively on blood. Bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide in a person’s breath and by their body heat. When bed bugs find a host to feed on, they penetrate the skin and locate a suitably sized blood vessel to draw from. The blood pressure in the vessel is sufficient to fill the bed bug up and completely satisfy the insect’s appetite in a few minutes.
The large number of reports on bed bug infestations makes the size of the current problem apparent and emphasizes the need to address the bed bug issue in a comprehensive manner. Fortunately, preliminary studies show no evidence that bed bugs are capable of spreading viruses like HIV, but more study is needed to establish the absence of any such possibilities. The Center for Disease Control reports that live HIV can be recovered from bed bugs up to 1 hour after they feed on infected blood, but no epidemiologic evidence for HIV transmission by this route exists.
Travelling Bed Bugs
Bed bugs and their eggs travel in clothing or bedding and maybe transported unknowingly in luggage. Pets may also harbor bugs or their larvae. Infested items like furniture, clothing, and backpacksalso may introduce bugs into a previously uninfected area.Bed bugs are capable of moving through building structures such as ducts or in wall spaces. This ability of bed bugs to move about freely is frequently cited by owners of bug ridden properties as the source of the infestation. The owner might claim that tenants brought a mattress from another location and that the mattress was infested with bed bugs, and therefore the infestation was due to the tenant’s failure for not inspecting the mattress.
Determining Liability in Bed Bug Injuries Cases
In cases of bed bug injuries, a question that frequently arises is that of who has the responsibility and liability for the problem. Any property owner who rents or leases a residence to another is legally obligated to determine that the property is free of bed bug infestations. Instances of bug bites often occur when the property owners know of the infestation problem and fail to inform their guests and tenants.
California code states, “In every apartment house or hotel, every part of every bed including mattresses, sheets, blankets, and bedding, shall be kept in a clean, dry sanitary condition, free from filth, urine or other fouls matters, and from infection of lice, bed bugs or other insects.”
Property owners may gain knowledge of infestations through actual notice. When a previous guest or employee informs the property manager of the problem, this is regarded as an actual notice. Bed bugs are typically discovered when the housekeeping staff sees blood stained sheets, or feces from the bed bugs in blankets, sheets and mattresses. The observation of this evidence constitutes an actual knowledge of the infestation on the part of the property owner.
Constructive eviction occurs when there are indications of bed bugs that management knows about, but does not address.The tenant then has the right to move out and stop paying rent, without incurring legal liability for breaking any lease that might be in effect.
Liability for Infestations in Apartment Complexes
When readying a property for rental, landlords have an obligation and a moral duty to their prospective tenants to make sure that the property is suitable for occupancy and habitation. This includes being free of bed bug infestations. California has an “implied warranty of habitability” which applies to all rental properties in the state.
Violation of this implied warranty means that owners of apartments can be held liable when they rent a unit which has a bed bug infestation. Determining the original source of the infestation can be difficult due to the “travelling” nature of bed bugs. Property owners will often argue that the origin of the bed bugs was not in the apartment building.
While tenants actively occupy an apartment, the landlord must properly maintain the property including extermination of bed bugs on their properties or they are in violation of their legal responsibilities. When landlords do not correct infestation issues, the tenant is legally permitted to vacate the premises and move from the property under the process of constructive eviction.
Responsibility for Infestation in Furnished Apartments
Furnished apartments frequently come equipped with not only beds but also sheets, pillows, blankets, and other linens. The failure of the property owners to change these linens is afrequent cause of injuries that occur due to infestations.California State Housing Codes states: “In every dwelling where the linen is furnished, the linen shall be changed before a new guest occupies the dwelling unit.“In light of this law, liability for injuries will likely be placed on the landlord.
Steps to Take after Being Injured by Bed Bugs
It is important to adopt a proactive stance when you become the victim of a landlord or property owner that has failed to deal with a bed bug infestation. First and foremost, you should seek medical treatment for your injuries.Consultation with a dermatologist is advisable.Common sense measures include making reports to management and keeping copies of them for your records. These reports should include detailed information on all contacts you make concerning the situation and include the date, time and place of the incident. If at all possible, move from the property.
A call to the health department will determine if reports have been filed against the property in the past. Contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your rights.
The Scope of Damages Resulting from Bed Bug Infestation
Bed bug injuries are more than the physical sufferings a person experiences in situations like these. You may suffer financial loss through property destruction such as the destruction of clothing, furnishings and bedding. Disruption of sleeping habits may occur and allergiesdevelop from long-term exposure. Psychological trauma and mental anguish are other possible outcomes.
How Long Do I Have to File a Bed Bug Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in the state of California is two years from the date of the occurrence. Under certain circumstances courts will allow extensions, called “tolling,” to the statute of limitations. These extensions may include cases involving minors, mental or physical impairment, or delayed manifestation of the injury.
The DAG Law Firm – Bed Bug Attorney Los Angeles
Currently, there are dozens of victims who have filed bed bug lawsuits throughout the state of California. The process of filing a bed bug lawsuit involves addressing many concerns and issues, and you need the knowledge of a professional. If you have experienced a bed bug infestation in your apartment or while vacationing at a hotel or resort, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the DAG Law Firm now at (323) 947-2224. Our offices are experienced in bed bug personal injury lawsuits in Los Angeles and Southern California. If you would like more information regarding your case please contact our offices today for a free consultation.