After launching more than a decade ago, Airbnb has grown into one of New York City’s most popular property rental services, reporting more than 9 million guests since its debut in 2008. Users of the Airbnb app or website can rent out apartments, single rooms, vacation homes, and other types of properties, creating an affordable alternative to traditional hotels and motels. Unfortunately, not all Airbnb hosts meet the standards that guests deserve. There are numerous online forums in which former Airbnb guests have complained about severe bed bug infestations – often with photographic evidence attached.
If you or one of your family members was bitten by bed bugs while staying at an Airbnb property in NYC, the personal injury law firm of Whitney, LLP can help. Our Airbnb bed bug lawyers are committed to holding Airbnb and negligent hosts responsible for guest injuries. Contact our law offices online to set up a free legal consultation, or call Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000 to speak with an NYC bed bug attorney today.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Bed bugs are extremely small, typically growing no larger than one quarter of an inch in length. The juveniles, called “nymphs,” are a pale yellow-brown, while mature adults are a medium to dark brown color.
In their unfed state, bed bugs are rounded yet flat, like coins. When they are feeding, their normally flat bodies become engorged, expanding into a cylindrical shape more like a seed or cigar. Bed bugs also become darker in color after feeding, sometimes appearing a deep rust hue.
Lacking wings or powerful hind legs, bed bugs are incapable of flying or hopping long distances. However, they are fast crawlers who can cover large distances on foot in search of new food sources or hiding places. They are also much tougher than most other insects, capable of withstanding extremes of temperature and starvation better than many household pests.
How Can You Identify Bed Bug Bites?
Bed bug bites are commonly confused with flea bites or mosquito bites, making it wise to seek out a prompt professional medical diagnosis. Bites can also be challenging to identify because they present differently across different individuals. For example, some individuals develop puffy red welts, while others have almost no visible reaction. To provide another example, bite marks are sometimes arranged in straight lines, while other victims present with random, scattered bite marks. Finally, some individuals experience an almost immediate reaction, while others take one to several days to display any symptoms.
Health Risks of Bed Bug Bites
Discovering a bed bug infestation at your Airbnb is more than simply “gross,” “annoying,” or “disappointing.” It can also be physically dangerous. Contrary to widespread belief, bed bugs are not merely an unpleasant nuisance – they can also pose serious health risks. These risks include:
- Anaphylaxis – Anaphylaxis is a rapid-onset allergic reaction that can threaten the person’s life without fast medical intervention. Anaphylaxis can be triggered by certain proteins in bed bug saliva, which some individuals are highly sensitive to.
- Bacterial Infections – It is not bed bug bites themselves that cause infection, but rather, excessive scratching of the bites. Too much scratching can tear open small cuts on the skin, allowing bacteria to enter and cause infections like cellulitis or impetigo.
- Skin Blistering – In some individuals, bed bug bites can blister and ooze, increasing the level of pain and discomfort.
In addition to their physical effects – which are not only painful, but often costly to treat – bed bug bites can also cause or exacerbate stress, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. These dangers are amplified if the bed bugs travel via luggage or clothing from the Airbnb back to the guest’s home, restarting the cycle of infestation, injury, and property loss.
Can You Sue Airbnb for a Bed Bug Infestation?
The short answer to this question is possibly, depending on the circumstances of the infestation. Specifically, you will need to prove that Airbnb was aware of the infestation prior to renting the room, or otherwise failed to meet appropriate standards for basic safety and sanitation.
Other parties may also be liable for your bed bug bite injuries. For example, the individual who rented the property may be at fault or partially at fault if he or she was negligent in the cleaning or maintenance of the property.
It is critical to the success of your claim or lawsuit that the bed bugs were present before your arrival at the Airbnb. Conversely, you will not prevail in your claim if the bed bugs traveled to the Airbnb from your own home or apartment.
NYC Airbnb Bed Bug Infestation Attorneys
Don’t take on powerful companies like Airbnb without an aggressive and experienced attorney in your corner. At Whitney, LLP, we have dedicated our practice to representing the victims of bed bug infestations, and understand the complex issues of insurance coverage, building code, and injury liability integral to these types of cases. To discuss your claim confidentially in a free legal consultation, contact Whitney, LLP online, or call our law offices at (410) 583-8000 to speak with an NYC Airbnb bed bug lawyer today.