Sometimes the smallest foes are the toughest to battle. Bedbugs are a great example of this truth. Bedbugs can cause painful itching that can feel like torture to individuals sensitive to their bites. Bedbugs are mobile, hitching a ride from one place to another and quickly making themselves at home in residences, offices, even libraries. They are tough to eradicate, typically requiring professional intervention, and repeat infestations can occur. Attorney Greg Brod, a San Francisco bed bug lawyer, helps bed bug victims when infestations are caused or exacerbated by a person’s/entity’s negligence. Today’s post focuses on bedbugs in hotels, a problem that can cause extreme discomfort and can lead to additional infestations in the victim’s home or place of business.
California Man Says Hotel Bedbugs Turned Dream Vacation into a Nightmare
One California couple says they learned the hard way about bedbugs in hotel rooms. SFGate.com reported on the incident and shared a video that may make viewers’ skin crawl. In the clip, the Long Beach man flips over a mattress to reveal numerous small, scurrying bugs. The man told the press that he and his girlfriend had been splurging on a $400-per-night room in New York’s Central Park to celebrate New Year’s Eve and a milestone birthday when they encountered the pests. The video also shows the girlfriend’s body, covered in a rash and more than 75 bites allegedly incurred during the stay including marks on her arms, stomach, fingers, and toes.
California Hotel Laws Regarding Bedbugs
In California, numerous laws and regulations govern the hotel industry, including several relevant in bed bug cases. California Health and Safety Code Section 17920.3 lists a number of conditions that, if they endanger an occupant’s health, welfare, or property, may render a building substandard including “[i]nfestation of insects, vermin, or rodents as determined by the health officer.” Other conditions on the list that can result in a hotel falling below legal standards include a lack of proper sanitation, inadequate maintenance, or overall dilapidation.
Additionally, the California Code of Regulations Title 25, Chapter 1, Subchapter 1 provides that: “ In every apartment house or hotel, every part of every bed, including the mattress, sheets, blankets, and bedding shall be kept in a clean, dry sanitary condition, free from filth, urine, or other foul matter, and from the infection of lice, bedbugs or other insects.”
Legal Claims for Hotel Guests Injured by Bedbugs in California
When an individual sues a hotel for bedbug-related injuries, the suit is typically a negligence claim. The above-referenced laws help establish the duty of the hotel to provide a safe, vermin-free room and clean bed. Generally, the plaintiff will also need to show that hotel personnel knew or should have known about the infestation. This can be satisfied with evidence of prior complaints or simply with evidence that a reasonable inspection would uncovered the pests. There are also a few other legal theories that may apply including claims based on contract law, the warranty of habitability, or even fraud.
A range of damages may be available to plaintiffs in California hotel bedbug cases. These may include: Payment of medical bills; Compensation for pain and suffering, including emotional injury; Payment of lost income; Damages for future expenses; and Compensation for property damage. In some cases, particularly where the defendant actively concealed an infestation, punitive damages may also be available.
What to Do If You Encounter Bedbugs in a Hotel
What should you do if you are the victim of a hotel bedbug infestation? Document everything. Search the room, take pictures of bedbugs and/or fecal matter, and even capture a few of the pests in a plastic bag. Remember to take pictures of the bites and any resulting rash too. Notify the hotel formally and make sure there is a written report. Retain all paperwork. Seek medical treatment and keep all related records. Avoid bringing the pests home (see ExpertBeacon and The Atlantic’s CityLab for tips on avoiding hotel infestations and how to avoid bringing the pests home should you encounter bedbugs in a hotel).
As soon as possible, contact a bed bug attorney. Attorney Greg Brod has specific experience helping people in Northern California bring bedbug claims and obtaining compensation for bedbug injuries. Whether you encountered bedbugs in a hotel, a rental residence, or elsewhere, Attorney Brod can provide legal guidance. Call the offices of our bedbug law firm in Oakland, San Francisco, or Santa Rosa at (800)-427-7020 to arrange a free consultation. Most cases are handled on a contingency fee basis so there is no charge for our services unless you recover money. Attorney Brod also has experience in class action law and can help groups of hotel guests or tenants with bedbug problems.
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(Image by Gilles San Martin)