Imagine waking up in a Florida hotel room on a vacation or business trip only to find yourself covered in itchy, red welts. You soon realize these are bed bug bites. You spend the next several nights and days itching and in discomfort. This discovery not only causes physical discomfort but also emotional distress. The thought of sleeping in a bed infested with bugs is deeply unsettling and can lead to feelings of violation and anxiety. You trusted the hotel to provide a clean, safe environment, and this trust was broken. Now, you are left to deal with the consequences of their oversight.
If you suffer from bed bug bites while staying as a guest in a Florida hotel or motel, you may be able to sue the hotel responsible.
Knowing what to do after a hotel injury in Florida, including who to sue and how to file a claim, is half the battle. Virtually all hotels have insurance that covers the costs of bed bug claims filed by hotel guests. Certain steps must be taken to present a successful claim. These steps include gathering evidence, sending a detailed preservation letter and notice of claim as soon as possible, preparing and sending a demand letter to the proper entity, and eventually litigating the claim if it is denied or the offer to settle is too low.
Sadly, many hotels and their insurance carriers ignore their hotel guests’ complaints about bed bugs. Unlike mosquitoes or ants, bed bugs are a pervasive and hazardous issue that needs to be eliminated immediately. Hotels and motels are in the business of filling rooms with guests. The sad reality is that it is much cheaper for these hotels, motels, and resorts to risk their guests’ health than to quarantine the infected rooms and properly address their bed bug infestation.
You can seek compensation if you suffer from bed bug bites while staying in a Florida hotel. An experienced personal injury lawyer at Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA, can help you sue the hotel responsible.
What To Do After Getting Bitten by Bed Bugs at a Florida Hotel
Taking immediate steps after being bitten by bed bugs is crucial in building a strong legal claim. Gathering as much information and evidence as possible creates a solid foundation for your case. This approach ensures that all details, big and small, are captured and can be effectively presented to support your claim.
Photos of the Bed Bugs
For your bed bug claim to be successful, you will need evidence, including but not limited to photos/videos of the bed bugs, the bites, and any scarring. This can all be captured using a cellular phone. There is a higher success rate with these types of claims when there is more evidence to present.
Make sure to take pictures of everything. Every bite that you have needs to be documented. After you take pictures of your bites, look around the room for physical evidence of the bed bugs. That means you must look under the bed sheets, the mattress, and all other nooks and crannies.
If you find any evidence whatsoever, take a picture of it. Also, take photographs of any blood on the bed sheets—this is a common indicator of a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs are small but not so small that a modern cell phone camera can’t photograph them.
The issue with many of these claims is that the physical symptoms of bed bug bites can take up to 14 days to develop in some people. These delayed bed bug symptoms often make a claim much more difficult to prove. However, it is not impossible.
Medical Diagnosis and Treatment
You must seek medical attention for your injuries if your bites become red and swollen, you have a fever, or your bites form into blisters or sores. It is difficult to prove that the bites came from bed bugs without a proper diagnosis.
If you or your loved one suffered a high quantity of bed bug bits, the medical provider will likely prescribe Permethrin or one of the many other varieties of topical creams used to treat bed bugs, scabies, and lice. In many cases, the doctor will prescribe an antihistamine pill or over-the-counter product like Benadryl to help alleviate the itchiness. In the most severe cases, the patient will be prescribed painkillers to relieve the pain.
Do not attempt to treat them on your own. A medical diagnosis and treatment plan will go a long way towards helping you recover while also strengthening your hotel injury case.
Most, if not all, hotels, motels, and resorts in Florida have policies for documenting guest complaints. It is very important to complain to management about the bed bug infestation. When you notice bed bug bites, you must report this to the hotel management and fill out an incident report. This will create a paper trail for your attorney and help establish your claim.
If possible, try to obtain a copy of the incident report. Certain hotels will provide a copy of the incident report to the hotel. However, many hotels, motels, and resorts do not allow guests to obtain copies.
Can You Sue a Hotel for Bed Bugs?
Yes, you can sue a hotel for bed bugs. However, immediately filing a lawsuit is not always the best way to go about it. Knowing what to do after a hotel injury in Florida is a big part of the legal process. An experienced attorney can help you take the next steps before filing a lawsuit.
Identify The Owner/Operator Of The Hotel
The first course of action should always be to locate the proper owner or operator of the hotel. In Florida, where we handle our bed bug claims, the best place to find the proper entity is sunbiz.org. On this website, you or your Florida bed bug attorney should be able to find the proper owner/operator of the hotel.
Inform The Hotel/Operator Of Your Claim
Your lawyer will send the hotel or operator a certified letter with a return receipt notifying them of your claim. The letter should include a request to preserve all of the evidence. If the hotel/operator fails to preserve the requested items and your case goes to court, the judge may instruct the jury that the hotel destroyed or failed to preserve the items requested. This helps prove the case.
The preservation letter should request that the hotel save all video, information, pest control orders/invoices, maintenance requests, and complaints, including but not limited to:
- All maintenance or service requests, letters, invoices, payments, or logs about bed bugs for a period of two years before the first date of your stay;
- Documentation of any prior complaints or injuries at the unit stemming from bed bugs and/or other insects in the common areas and hotel rooms;
- All lists, schedules, and rosters detailing employees at your hotel who were working on the dates of your stay.
- All lists, contracts, written documents, recorded statements, or receipts about outside pest control firms for a period of two years before the first date of your stay.
- Any and all incident reports of your bed bug complaints.
Filing a Lawsuit or Negotiating the Claim with the Insurer
Once the letter is received, it will likely be forwarded to the hotel/operator’s insurance carrier. Many smaller hotels will ignore the letter and hope you don’t file a lawsuit. If the letter is ignored, you will have no choice but to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your damages. If the letter is forwarded to the insurance carrier, they will contact you to try and resolve your claim.
Unfortunately, many claimants agree to release the hotel in exchange for a very small settlement during this process. If you are a victim of bed bugs, don’t let the hotels and insurance companies bully you with low settlement offers. Hire an attorney to help you get the most money in your pocket.
How Much are Bed Bug Claims Worth?
Bed Bug claims can be worth a lot of money. Insurance companies try to settle these claims for “nuisance value” by offering the claimant a small amount (usually between $200.00 and $800.00) in exchange for the signed release of liability. However, if you had to switch hotels due to the bed bug infestation, you may have incurred more than this in hotel fees alone.
What insurance companies don’t want you to know is that bed bug claims can be worth as much as $15,000 or more. Each claim is unique. That is why it is imperative to know the intricacies of bed bug law or get a Florida personal injury lawyer with experience handling bed bug claims.
The value of the claim will depend on the following factors:
- The Number of Guests. Whether or not more than one guest was bitten in the room can affect your claim. Take, for example, a situation where there were four guests in the same room, and only one of the guests suffered bites. In this example, it is much more difficult to prove that the hotel room was the source of the bed bug.
- Lost Wages. Sometimes, the bed bug bites make it impossible for the claimant to return to their regular job. This was the case for a Victoria’s Secret model who found it difficult to return to work covered in red welts and bumps caused by the bed bugs in her hotel room. Many people find it difficult to return to work because they are ashamed of their appearance. Many of our clients complain that their coworkers and employers don’t want them coming to work because they are grossed out by their appearance and believe the condition is contagious. This is the case with teachers, medical professionals, waiters, and a large portion of the general population.
- Medical Bills and Treatment. The claim’s value will often depend on how high the client’s medical bills are. In most cases, the medical bills that our clients incur do not exceed $2,000.00. A case where the victim is seen by their primary care physician (an average of about a $160.00 visit) will not be worth as much as a case where the victim is hospitalized for the injuries and incurs substantial bills.
- Hotel History of Bed Bugs. If bed bugs are a persistent problem at the hotel and the hotel fails to remedy it, it is possible to seek punitive damages. These damages are intended to punish the hotel and prevent future occurrences.
- Number of Bites. This can range anywhere from a single bit to over one hundred bites covering all parts of the body.
- Scarring. In many cases, the victim simply cannot deal with the itching and continuously scratches the areas where they were bitten. Constant scratching can often lead to permanent scarring.
- Hotel of Motel You’re Suing. Higher-end establishments generally pay larger confidential settlements quicker to avoid any negative publicity.
Seek an Experienced Florida Bed Bug Attorney
If you or a loved one have suffered bed bug injuries at a hotel, motel, or resort, then do not hesitate to contact Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA for a free consultation on your claim.
Our skilled lawyers have the expertise you need to secure the settlement you deserve. Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA has years of experience when it comes to handling bed bug claims and ensuring that our clients receive the compensation that they need to pay off their medical expenses, lost wages, etc.
We handle cases throughout the state of Florida. Unfortunately, we cannot represent clients who suffered bud bug injuries outside of the State of Florida at this time. For a free legal consultation on your case, call our office today at (305) 694-2676.