Bed Bug Lawsuits Against Florida Hotels
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What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are parasites that have tormented humans for thousands of years. They are tiny brown insects, about the size of a ladybug, which feeds on human blood like other human parasites.
Since the mid-1990s, these parasites have become a real problem for hotel guests causing both physical and emotional injuries, which have led to a large number of injury claims being filed against hotels. In fact, they are a serious and growing problem in Florida, especially in Orlando, Miami, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale hotels where the highest concentration of bed bug claim activity occurs and where most of our clients were bitten.
Bed Bug Injuries:
Physical injuries can include:
- Itching and swelling
- Allergic reactions
- Secondary Skin Infections
- Disfiguring bite marks and
- Permanent scarring
Mental injuries include:
- Emotional distress
Hotels have a duty to inspect their rooms to ensure that there are no Bed Bugs!
Quick Facts about Bed Bugs
More and more national news coverage has been given to the 2016 resurgence of tropical bed bugs here in Florida. USA Today reports that “Rare bed bug re-emerges in Florida after 60 years,” and CBS News warns “Tropical bedbugs back in Florida after 60 years.”
1. Variety of Bed Bugs in Florida: Common and Tropical Varieties
There are different kinds of bed bugs here in Florida. First, there are the Cimex lectularius, or “common bed bug.” These are different than the newly discovered “tropical bed bug,” or Cimex Hemipterus.
Genetically, both are from the same family, Heteroptera Cimicidaie. They cannot be considered to be the same insect. Both bite humans to feed on human blood.
Common Bed Bugs
Common bed bugs will feast on humans or animal hosts. They are active at night and are able to survive for many months between feedings. They can live for a year without oxygen.
They may be red-brown or light brown in color and are very small, flat, oval-shaped bugs. They build nests, usually in bedding or mattresses or under carpeting.
A female common bed bug will lay around a dozen eggs a day, and they respond best to warmer temperatures (like 80 degrees). Eggs are generally laid in crevices and dark, quiet places. Eggs will hatch about 17 days later, and a common bed bug has a life span of around one year.
For more information on common bed bugs, visit BedBugs.org.
Tropical Bed Bugs
Tropical bed bugs like darkness and they are most likely to live in bed linens, mattresses, wallpaper, carpet linings, etc. They are active at night. They come out to feed on their host (the human body) and then return to their safe haven.
Tropical bed bugs are tiny and oval-shaped. They are red-brown and little more than a quarter-inch in length as a full-grown adult. The female tropical bed bug will lay around 500 eggs each day. The eggs take around 2.5 weeks to hatch. An adult tropical bed bug can live without eating blood for a year.
For more information on tropical bed bugs, visit BedBugsBites.net.
2. The Dangers of Bed Bug Bites
When you are the victim of a bedbug, you will not know it immediately. The bite itself is painless. The first hint that you have been bitten by a bedbug is the series of small, flat, bumps that appear on your skin akin to a rash. You may also suffer from itching, as well as swelling and redness in the area.
Doctors usually prescribe antihistamines or steroid creams to those suffering from bedbug bites. Your doctor may dismiss the bedbug bites as a minor annoyance without serious implications to your health.
Transmission of Disease
However, there is controversy over whether or not bedbugs can transmit more serious human diseases, like hepatitis or Chagas Disease. Some researchers believe that bedbugs, as they bite into the human bloodstream, are capable of spreading over 40 different human diseases.
A 2014 study by the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, found that bedbugs can carry the Chagas Disease from human to human. Chagas disease is considered one of the most deadly diseases in the United States today.
Therefore, anyone suffering from bedbug bites would do well to be forewarned that they may have been exposed to more serious and even deadly diseases than a mere “skin rash” in a doctor’s diagnosis.
Additionally, victims of bed bug bites may suffer from psychological issues, including anxiety and depression. The damage to the bedbug victim’s mental health cannot be underestimated. See, “Bed-Bug Madness: The Psychological Toll of the Blood Suckers,” by Rose Eveleth published on October 16, 2014, in The Atlantic.
Bed Bugs in Florida Hotels
In January 2016, the national exterminator company Orkin published a list of the top fifty cities in the United States where bedbugs were a problem. Miami/Fort Lauderdale made the list at number 43; Tampa was at number 31; and Orlando at number 38.
While some may assume that bedbug infestations in hotel rooms or resort guest suites are due to poor maintenance or a lack of cleanliness, this is not true. Bed bugs are survivors and can thrive even in areas of excellent housekeeping.
The key for Florida hoteliers is to maintain vigilance for these pests. Dogs are especially adept at sniffing out the nests and eggs of bedbugs. They are considered to be almost 100% accurate in locating bedbugs. Hotels have a duty to be on the lookout for these pests and to use the services of professional exterminators (with their bug-sniffing dogs) as often as need be.
Read (From Our Blog): Bed Bugs in Rented Furniture and New Furniture
Florida Hotels Have a Legal Duty to Protect Guests from Bed-Bug Bites
Why? In Florida, businesses that open their doors to customers for overnight stays as hotels, motels, resorts, and more are in the business of innkeeping. They act as the “second home” of their clientele, and Florida law places upon these innkeeping businesses a special duty of safety and care to their guests.
Under Florida’s Premises liability law, hotels can be held liable for injuries suffered by a hotel guest who has been bitten by a bed bug. Hotels have a duty to exercise reasonable care in keeping their rooms in a reasonably safe condition. Bedbug infestations are evidence that the hotel has failed in that duty of care. Meaning, they can be held liable for paying damages that result from this breach of care.
Sadly, both here in Florida and across the country, more and more hotel guests have been forced to file lawsuits in order to obtain compensation after being bitten by a bed-bug in a hotel room. A few years ago, for instance, a New York woman successfully sued after suffering bedbug bites in a Holiday Inn hotel room in North Carolina. The result was a $7 Million verdict in her favor. Similarly, a bedbug victim was awarded $100,000 in damages from the injuries she sustained after being bitten by bedbugs in a Washington, D.C. hotel room.
If you suspect that you have been bitten by bed bugs during your stay in a Florida hotel, it is crucial to:
1. Take Pictures and Videotape of Your Hotel Room
Using your smartphone or another camera, try and get images as soon as you can of the entire hotel room. This may be evidence of the infestation. Get images of any “dust” that you see on the bedding, in the carpeting, on the chairs or sofas. Check the walls, too. Remember that the bed bugs are very small, and will look like dust more than moving insects to the human eye.
Also remember to take photos of the sheets, your clothing, and your pillow.
2. Take Pictures of Your Bites
Make sure to get clear photos of your bites as they manifest. These can be a series of shots taken over a period of time.
3. Notify the Hotel and Get the Hotel Report.
Notify the hotel management that you think you are a bedbug victim. Have them come and check out the room. Get the report that is made. (Yes, they will document everything and you should get copies of it.)
4. See a Doctor and Get Their Documentation
Have a doctor examine your injuries and give you medical treatment. Get a copy of his or her diagnosis as well as any prescribed medication. If you feel traumatized by the event and see a mental health professional, get their documentation as well.
All medical records will be needed to support your claim for injuries.
5. Contact the County Health Department (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Orange, etc.) and the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants.
The county health inspector should be informed that you have been the victim of bedbugs. An inspector will likely visit the hotel room and do their own inspection because vermin, in certain counties (like Broward), can lead to the declaration that the hotel room is unfit for human occupancy.
Of course, it is important to get a copy of their report. (This is like getting a police report after a car crash; it is the government’s recorded investigation of your incident and it can help other victims prove the hotel knew about the bed bugs.)
Also, a victim can file a complaint with the Division of Hotels and Restaurants. A victim can file a complaint on their website or call (850) 487-1395. The Division performs an inspection in response to every complaint received.
6. Discuss Your Injuries with a Florida Bed-Bug Attorney
Whether or not you have a viable personal injury claim against the hotel will depend upon your unique circumstances. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer to assess your documentation (as well as any additional things you may need, like expert opinion testimony) can be vital to building a successful case against the hotel that has caused you harm.
Damages You Can Recover From Bedbug Injuries
Just like any other serious illness, bedbug bites can lead to compensation claims for medical bills, including therapy, and missed work. A serious incident involving bed bugs can leave a victim with significant medical expenses, lost wages, and lingering health problems.
With the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney, you may be able to recover damages for:
- Pain and Suffering
- Medical Bills – Past and Future (Including Cosmetic Surgery to Remove Bite Scars)
- Lost Wages
- Workers Compensation
- Mental Anguish and Emotional Distress
Who We Represent – Types of Bed-Bug Claims We Handle
Our offices represent victims of bedbug bites in Florida hotels, motels, resorts, and other hospitality businesses, particularly in the Orlando, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward areas.
These injury victims may or may not be residents of the State of Florida; as hotel guests, they may reside in other states or other countries and have been victims of injury while visiting Florida and staying at a local hotel.
Related (From Our Blog): Bed Bug Claims by a Florida Tenant: Can You Sue the Landlord?
Will A Victim Have To Come Back To Florida To Pursue His Or Her Claim?
Most personal injury claims are settled without the need to file a lawsuit and without the need for the victim to return to Florida. (95% of all personal injury claims settle). This fact applies to hotel bed bug claims.
The bottom line here it is highly unlikely a victim will be required to return to Florida to get compensation.
Experienced Florida Trial Specialist – Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer
Alan Sackrin’s 38 years of experience handling Florida personal injury cases makes him qualified to handle even the most complicated cases. Alan is a Board Certified trial lawyer which means he is a trial specialist and an expert in personal injury matters.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to bed bugs, contact Alan Sackrin, an experienced Personal Injury Attorney, today for a free consultation. Doing so will put you in contact with an attorney who has for years represented local and out-of-state guests hurt in Orlando, Miami, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale hotels.
Get A Free Case Evaluation By An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Contact Alan Sackrin to find out how he can help you. You can contact him by phone at 954-458-8655 or by e-mail through this web site to schedule an appointment and learn more about your rights from an injury lawyer. He offers a free initial consultation.
To learn more about Alan Sackrin, click on this link: Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
Alan Sackrin adds value to his clients because he will go to trial when the insurance company denies coverage or doesn’t make a settlement offer that he believes is fair. Alan won’t send his client to a different lawyer to file a lawsuit, he’s the lawyer that other lawyers send their cases to when they are unable to obtain a reasonable settlement offer.
Do You Have a Question?
Fill out the “Talk With Us” form above to ask a question or call us at 954-458-8655. We promise to get back to you promptly. Ask now.
*$20,000.00 is an average for a hotel bed bug settlement, some bed bug cases will settle for a lot more and some for less. Also, the average does not include an amount for property damage reimbursement, if any. This number is for illustrative purposes and should not be relied upon as each case is unique and each case should be evaluated on its own merits.