Bed bugs are invasive pests that can infest and destroy expensive personal property. They can also cause serious injuries and health problems, including bacterial infections, allergic reactions, anxiety, and depression. If your apartment, hotel room, motel room, or Airbnb had bed bugs, you may be entitled to financial compensation. To be compensated, you will need to file a claim or lawsuit against the liable parties, such as your landlord or exterminator.
With more than 20 years of experience filing bed bug lawsuits in Maryland, the College Park bed bug lawyers of Whitney, LLP are here to help you through this process. Contact us online to set up a free consultation, or call (410) 583-8000 to speak with a bed bug attorney in College Park today.
Identifying Bed Bugs
Known as Cimex lectularius, the common bed bug is a flightless, parasitic insect that emerges at night to feed on blood from warm-blooded hosts like humans, cats, and dogs. Bed bugs range from light to dark brown, with ridged, semi-transparent, oval-shaped bodies. Normally just millimeters long, bed bugs can expand to roughly one quarter of an inch when feeding, becoming engorged and elongated. This quality sometimes causes them to be confused with ticks. However, bed bugs possess six legs and one pair of antennae, compared to ticks which have eight legs and no antennae.
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?
Physical reactions to bed bug bites range from nonexistent to extremely serious. While some individuals do not experience any symptoms after being bitten, others develop oozing, painful blisters and swellings, requiring swift medical care.
Most individuals develop bite marks similar to those left by a mosquito. These markings are generally pink, raised, and itchy. They may appear in straight lines, or be randomly grouped in clusters. Since reactions to bites can vary – and in some cases, require aggressive treatment – it is critical to see a physician for prompt and accurate diagnosis.
Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
There are several ways to check for bed bugs in your apartment or hotel room. The most obvious indicators are visible bed bugs crawling on your bedding, walls, furniture, or other surfaces. However, bed bugs tend to hide from predators, only emerging at night to feed. Even if you do not see any bed bugs, they may be present in the room. Warning signs that bed bugs are present in a hotel or apartment include:
- Unpleasant odors, which may be caused by bed bug alarm pheromones (distress signals), often described as “musty” or “sweet,” or compared to scents like almond and coriander
- Dark, jagged-edged stains on your mattress or bedding, which may be caused by crushed bed bugs or their excrement
- Molted skins and/or egg cases in your bedding
Are Bed Bugs Dangerous?
Bed bugs are not just an inconvenience or hassle – they can also pose a real risk to your physical and mental health, with the danger increasing the longer the infestation persists. Health problems linked to bed bug infestations include:
- Allergic Reactions – When a bed bug feeds, a miniscule amount of its saliva is injected into the host. This saliva contains proteins called “antigens.” Some people are extremely sensitive to these proteins and suffer an allergic response when bitten. This response, called “anaphylaxis,” is potentially life-threatening. It is marked by symptoms that include facial swelling, nausea, weakness, respiratory problems, and shock.
- Bacterial Infections – Scratching or picking at itchy bed bug bites can open small wounds in the skin. Bacteria can enter the body through these wounds, leading to secondary skin infections. Infections linked to bed bugs include ecthyma, impetigo, and cellulitis.
- Mood and Sleep Disorders – Mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are common in victims who have been living with bed bug infestations for prolonged periods. Since bed bugs feed at night, many victims also develop problems sleeping on a regular schedule, leading to insomnia and associated health issues.
Can You Sue Your Landlord or Hotel for Bed Bugs in College Park, Maryland?
The answer to this question depends on several factors, such as:
- Whether you suffered physical or financial injuries
- When your injuries occurred
- Why the infestation developed
Like other personal injury claims, bed bug claims depend on establishing negligence. This means you must prove that a landlord, a hotel manager, a pest control company, and/or other parties somehow failed to meet acceptable standards, thus causing an infestation and the resulting injuries.
For example, Maryland’s various county codes each establish their own pest control standards for local landlords and property managers. Landlords who fail to meet these standards may be liable for infestations and the resulting tenant injuries. Under Section 13-238 of the Prince George’s County Code, “All owners of the property shall be responsible for the extermination of insects, rats, vermin, or other pests in all areas of the property” – including bed bugs.
Hotels are also held to high standards when it comes to providing safe and habitable conditions. Maryland hotels are generally required to disclose infestations to guests, and must take timely, adequate measures to prevent or eradicate infestations.
College Park Bed Bug Injury Claim Attorneys
If your apartment, hotel, or Airbnb in College Park was infested by bed bugs, you should discuss your family’s legal options with an experienced bed bug claim lawyer, like those of Whitney, LLP. Depending on what caused the infestation and when it occurred, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, property damage, and costs associated with pest treatment and extermination. To confidentially discuss filing a claim with one of our College Park bed bug lawyers, contact Whitney, LLP online, or call our law offices at (410) 583-8000 for your free legal consultation.