Bed bugs can cause physical, emotional, and financial damage to their victims, inflicting injuries while infesting and ruining valuable personal property. If you were bitten by bed bugs while staying at a hotel or Airbnb in Florida, or if bed bugs infested your apartment building, you may be able to obtain compensation for the resulting property damage, medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, and other damages you have incurred.
The Florida bed bug attorneys of Whitney, LLP have been fighting against negligent landlords, hotels, and exterminators since 1992, recovering millions of dollars for our clients in the process. If you have questions about your legal options for filing a lawsuit after a bed bug infestation in Florida, contact Whitney, LLP online, or call our law offices at (410) 583-8000 to schedule a free legal consultation.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are nocturnal, parasitic insects that feed on blood while their victims sleep. The victims often sleep through being bitten and do not notice their symptoms until the following morning or several days later.
Bed bugs can be hard to identify because they are so small, measuring no more than several millimeters. However, they become much larger while feeding, growing to approximately one quarter of an inch. They can be identified by their brown, ridged, semi-transparent bodies, which lack wings or stingers but feature piercing, conical mouthparts designed for sucking blood.
How to Tell if You’ve Been Bitten by Bed Bugs
The best and most reliable way to determine that you have been bitten by bed bugs is to show your bites to your physician or dermatologist for a professional diagnosis. This is due to the fact that different people experience different physical reactions to bites.
In most people, bites trigger minor swelling and itching, with pink or reddish discoloration, that persists for up to several weeks. However, some people do not have any physical symptoms, while others suffer uncommon but serious adverse effects. These effects are discussed in the following section.
Are Bed Bugs Harmful?
Bed bug bites are not merely itchy – for some individuals, they can also be dangerous. Potential health risks linked to bed bug infestations include:
- Anaphylaxis – Anaphylaxis is a severe, swift-acting allergic reaction whose effects may include facial swelling, difficulty breathing, weakness, nausea, and shock. It is caused by a sensitivity to proteins called “antigens” in bed bug saliva.
- Mood Disorders – Anxiety and depression can develop in individuals who are exposed to bed bug infestations, particularly in the long term.
- Skin Infections – The wounds created by scratching at bites are perfect entries for bacteria. Secondary bacterial infections associated with bed bugs include ecthyma, cellulitis, and lymphangitis.
Warning Signs of a Hotel or Apartment Bed Bug Infestation
In Florida, landlords and hotel companies are generally required to disclose known bed bug infestations to prospective tenants or hotel guests. Unfortunately, these disclosures are not always made. However, you may be able to protect yourself by thoroughly checking the apartment unit or hotel room for bed bugs. Other than visible insects, which may be spotted crawling on horizontal or vertical surfaces (including ceilings), bed bugs may also be detected by:
- Checking any mattresses for dark stains, egg cases, or molted skins, which may also be present on pillows or bedding
- Paying attention to any strange, unpleasant odors in the room – especially if they seem to be somewhat sweet or musty – as these may be caused by bed bug pheromones
Filing a Bed Bug Claim in Florida
If you were bitten by bed bugs in Florida, you may have cause to file a personal injury claim against the parties responsible, such as a landlord, hotel, hotel manager, pest control company, or Airbnb owner. In order to prevail in your claim and be compensated, you will need to prove three basic facts, using evidence such as medical records and photographs of the infested premises:
- You were exposed to a bed bug infestation in your apartment, hotel room, or Airbnb. Landlords, hotels, and similar entities have a “duty of care” toward guests and residents, which means they must provide safe conditions.
- You were somehow harmed by the infestation. For instance, you might have been physically injured by the bites, or may have suffered financial losses caused by property damage and replacement.
- The infestation was caused by the careless, or negligent, actions (or failures to act) of another individual or business. For instance, the failure to inspect or treat infested areas of a hotel or apartment building is often a key factor.
Various counties have their own regulatory codes, which typically establish landlord pest control duties. Depending on where in Florida the infestation occurred, the relevant code may impact your claim. It is important to work with an experienced, knowledgeable bed bug litigation attorney who understands how local ordinances affect bed bug liability in your case.
Florida Bed Bug Lawsuit Attorneys
Bed bugs can cost you your physical, mental, and financial health. You should not have to pick up the pieces on your own. Your landlord, the hotel you stayed at, or other parties may be responsible for your losses. To talk confidentially about filing a bed bug claim in Florida, contact our law offices online today, or call Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000 to speak with an attorney.