Bed bugs can overtake any hotel room or apartment building, no matter how tidy and new the premises. Attracted by their sole food source – blood – bed bugs are drawn to any environment where they can easily hide and feed. To fight bed bug populations and improve public health, counties and cities throughout Maryland have enacted regulations holding landlords responsible for extermination. Similarly, hotels are required to ensure that guest accommodations are hazard-free and fit for habitation. If you were bitten by bed bugs at a hotel or apartment building in Annapolis, you may have cause to file an injury lawsuit. To learn more about filing a bed bug injury claim in Maryland, contact Whitney, LLP online, or call our law offices at (410) 583-8000 to speak with our Annapolis bed bug attorneys today.
What Are Bed Bugs?
The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) is a nocturnal, parasitic insect belonging to the Cimicidae family. Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood, which may be consumed from any warm-blooded host, including humans, dogs, cats, and birds, depending on what is available in their environment.
Physically speaking, bed bugs are brown, wingless, and six-legged, ranging from a few millimeters in length to roughly one quarter of an inch depending on how recently they have fed. This ability to expand sometimes causes bed bugs to be confused with ticks, which have eight legs instead of six. Bed bugs also have antennae, which ticks lack.
How Do You Know You’ve Been Bitten by Bed Bugs?
You may not even know that you’ve been bitten by bed bugs, depending on how sensitive you are to the bites. Most individuals are moderately sensitive, producing physical responses like swelling, itching, and if some cases, blisters or rashes. These effects may persist for several weeks after the bite has been inflicted. A small handful of individuals suffer through serious complications, such as anaphylaxis, that require urgent medical treatment, as discussed in greater detail below. No matter what sort of a physical response you experience, you should see your physician right away to get diagnosed and discuss your care plan.
Bed Bug Infestation Health Risks
There are serious health risks associated with bed bug infestations. Examples of health problems that can be caused by bed bug bites include:
- Anaphylaxis – Anaphylaxis is a severe, rapid-onset, potentially fatal allergic response that affects a small percentage of people in the United States. Often connected with peanuts or bee stings, anaphylaxis can also be triggered by proteins in bed bug saliva, which enters the host’s body while the insect feeds. Warning signs of an anaphylactic reaction include confusion, weakness, nausea, facial swelling, and difficulty breathing.
- Skin Infections – Open wounds caused by picking or scratching at bed bug bites can trap bacteria and become infected. Secondary bacterial infections associated with bed bug infestations include lymphangitis, cellulitis, and impetigo.
In addition to these physical health issues, bed bug infestations can also cause victims to suffer from worsened mental health. Reports of anxiety, depression, and insomnia are common among individuals who have experienced an infestation.
Annapolis, Maryland Bed Bug Lawsuits: Hotel and Landlord Liability
Annapolis is located in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. If renters live in the city of Annapolis, they should look to the Annapolis Code of Ordinances for building codes and regulations about landlord responsibility for bed bug extermination. If renters live outside of Annapolis, the Anne Arundel County Code applies.
City of Annapolis Code
The relevant portion of the Code is Section 17.40.760 (Rodents and Pests—Generally). It states that when an “infestation is caused by failure of the owner or operator to maintain a dwelling in a rodentproof condition, extermination is the responsibility of the owner or operator.”
Anne Arundel County Code
The relevant portion of the Code is Section 15-4-201, which deals with property maintenance. However, rather than setting forth its own rules, Section 15-4-201 simply explains that Anne Arundel County has adopted the 2003 International Property Maintenance Code. Therefore, tenants must then refer to the International Property Maintenance Code, which states, under Section 308.4 (regarding multi-occupant dwellings), the following:
“The owner of a structure containing two or more dwelling units [such as an apartment building]… shall be responsible for extermination [of bed bugs] in the public or shared areas of the structure and exterior property.”
In other words, Annapolis landlords are generally responsible only for common areas and exterior spaces, like lobbies or courtyards. However, the Code then makes an important exception: “Where the infestations are caused by defects in the structure, the owner shall be responsible for extermination.”
Hotels are likewise held to rigorous standards for guest safety. Hotel managers, cleaning staff, pest control services, and other parties may be liable for a guest’s medical bills, property damage, and other losses incurred due to the bed bug infestation.
Annapolis Bed Bug Injury Claim Attorneys
You may be entitled to financial compensation if you were bitten by bed bugs in your apartment or hotel in Annapolis. With more than 25 years of combined personal injury experience, the bed bug lawsuit attorneys of Whitney, LLP are ready to fight tirelessly on your family’s behalf. Contact the law offices of Whitney, LLP online right away to arrange a free legal consultation, or call (410) 583-8000 today.