Bed bugs are hazardous pests whose bites are capable of causing serious health issues, including severe allergic reactions, skin blistering, permanent scarring, and bacterial skin infections. Bed bugs can also infest personal property, requiring the destruction and replacement of countless precious belongings.
If bed bugs infested your apartment in Washington, D.C., and you were physically or financially injured as a result, the bed bug litigation attorneys of Whitney, LLP can help. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients over the years. Contact our law firm online today to set up a legal consultation, or call Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000 to speak with a Washington, D.C. apartment bed bug infestation lawyer about filing an injury claim.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are flightless, parasitic, nocturnal insects that feed on blood from warm-blooded hosts. They will feed on any source of blood that is readily available, including people and animals – among them, many pets commonly kept in apartments, such as cats, dogs, birds, and hamsters. Though their small size (generally under one quarter inch) can make identification difficult, bed bugs can be identified by features that include:
- Small, ridged, oval-shaped bodies, which become elongated when feeding
- Brown, partially transparent coloration
- Lack of wings
- Small, black eyes set on opposite sides of the head
- No buzzing, humming, chirping, or other noises
- Six legs
Are Bed Bug Infestations Dangerous?
According to one 2018 study by a national pest control company, Washington, D.C. ranked second in the United States among the top 50 cities with the most bed bugs. Unfortunately, bed bug infestations are more than just a hassle or nuisance – they can actually pose a threat to your physical health. Medical problems that can be caused by bed bug bites include:
- Bacterial Skin Infections – Excessive scratching can cause small wounds, where bacterial infections can readily develop. Secondary skin infections linked to bed bug bites include lymphangitis, impetigo, cellulitis, and ecthyma.
- Blistering and Scarring – Bed bug bites can cause painful blistering and leave extensive scarring behind.
- Mental Health Issues – Victims of bed bug infestations frequently report experiencing anxiety, depression, insomnia, and social isolation.
- Severe Allergic Reactions – Bed bug saliva contains proteins that, in some individuals, can trigger a severe allergic response known as “anaphylaxis.” Potentially fatal without proper treatment, anaphylaxis can produce symptoms such as vomiting, weakness, difficulty breathing, facial swelling, and shock.
How Can I Tell if My Washington, D.C. Apartment Has Bed Bugs Before I Move In?
Bed bugs feed solely on blood. As a result, they are attracted to environments by people and, in some cases, their pets – not by garbage, moisture, wood, bright lights, or other factors that commonly lure pests into apartment dwellings.
For these reasons, it is impossible to tell whether an apartment unit is infested by bed bugs based purely on how messy or tidy it looks. The only way to know whether bed bugs are present is to check carefully for signs of a bed bug infestation in the apartment, which include:
- Dark staining on your mattress, which may have been caused by bed bug excrement or crushed bed bug bodies
- Egg cases or molted skins on your mattress, likely accumulated along seams and folds
- Unpleasant, strange odors, which may be caused by bed bugs releasing alarm pheromones (usually described as “musty” or “sickeningly sweet”)
- Visible bed bugs crawling on your bedding, walls, or furniture
Can I Sue My Landlord for Bed Bugs in My Apartment in Washington, D.C.?
Recently proposed legislation known as B23-0045, or the Bed Bug Control Act of 2019, remains “under council review” in Washington, D.C. According to an official legislative summary, the bill “creates regulations that govern the removal of bedbugs” and “requires landlords to notify adjoining tenants of infestations” within apartment buildings. Additionally, the Bed Bug Control Act establishes a rule that landlords must “provide [prospective tenants] a 12-month history for a dwelling of prior infestations before signing of a lease.”
The bill – which would be a major victory for renters in Washington, D.C. – remains pending consideration as of May 2019. Under current regulations, such as D.C. Municipal Regulations Rule 14-805, landlords become responsible for infestations only once they have spread to a second unit. On the other hand, D.C. landlords must maintain “reasonably insect-proof condition[s]” for tenants.
While current D.C. bed bug tenant laws are less robust than B23-0045, it may still be possible to file a claim against your landlord for negligence. Our apartment bed bug lawyers have handled numerous lawsuits against negligent landlords and property managers, and will help you understand your legal options for pursuing compensation.
Washington, D.C. Apartment Bed Bug Lawsuit Attorneys
If your D.C. apartment was infested by bed bugs, your landlord may be responsible for your medical bills, property damage, and other harm you have suffered. If you or your roommates were bitten by bed bugs, you should contact an experienced attorney right away for legal guidance. For a free legal consultation for bed bug claims in Washington, D.C., contact Whitney, LLP online, or call our law offices at (410) 583-8000.