Have you stayed at a hotel in New York and been bit by bed bugs? Have you recently moved into an apartment only to find out your new apartment is infested with bed bugs? If so, a New York Bed Bug attorney can help, and you have come to the right place.

Bed bugs are a growing problem across the U.S., causing significant injuries to those harmed. Knowing your legal rights is the first step to recovery. Unfortunately, those injured are often times taken advantage of by insurance companies and property owners. Injured parties are made to feel at fault for the bites across their bodies and in some cases they are told lies by hotel managers and landlords. It is important that you understand your rights and know that you can file a lawsuit for your injuries. For this, a New York bed bug attorney can help.

A bed bug can individually and collectively cause a number of health effects including skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms. bed bug injuries, bites or cimicosis, itching from the bed bug bite, which may lead to a range of skin manifestations from no visible effects to prominent blisters.

There are many places for bed bugs to hide, and if the exterminator is not properly trained, the bugs are safe.  Bed bugs hide in mattresses, boxsprings, bed frame, headboards, couches, chairs. nightstands, dressers, in electronics, in outlets and in the walls.

Legal Rights of Tenants in a New York Infested Apartment

A. Negligence
Generally speaking, owners of premises have a duty to maintain their properties in a reasonably safe condition as well as a duty to warn of any unsafe conditions. Insect or other pest-related infestation is by and large considered “unsafe,” being both unsanitary and potentially harmful.

Premises liability claims typically focus on a negligence theory; that is, by allowing the condition to exist or failing to warn of the associated danger, owners of the premises at issue have failed to meet the standard created by the duty of care that they owe to their tenants. A claimant can recover on this theory when an owner’s breach of its duty leads to some injury on the claimant’s part – whether it is to their person or to their property.  In addition, if there is a pre-existing history of bed bugs in the apartment building where you are residing, New York City law requires that the landlord disclose this history to a prospective tenant.  Furthermore, under New York Law, it is the landlord’s responsibility to remediate the bed bug condition.

Recent cases indicate that to the extent that claimants can demonstrate actual losses related to infestation, they will be awarded compensatory damages. Recovery may also be sought for the costs for physical harm caused by the bites, scarring, mental distress, and loss of consortium for married couples, as well as replacing personal property that was damaged or needed to be disposed of as a result of the bed bug infestation. 

Under the laws of most states, punitive damages are a mechanism by which to address the willful and wanton misconduct of a person or entity. In essence, they comprise some appreciable amount beyond that needed to address a claimant’s actual losses (which are covered by compensatory damages) as a measure of punishment for the defendant’s outrageous conduct and a means of deterring such activity in the future.

Documenting the problem and any resulting loss is of critical importance for evidentiary purposes. Should a claimant’s case be strong enough to warrant recovery, a New York Court will require sufficient proof of the extent of the damage suffered in order to aid in the determination of what should be awarded. Collecting bugs and photographing their presence on furniture or personal possessions as well as evidence of bite marks is ideal.  Notifying the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) is also key because a finding of bed bugs by HPD can only help your claim.

B. Breach of the Implied Warranty of Habitability
Similar to the duty associated with a negligence-based theory, there is another legal doctrine that focuses on a property owner’s responsibility to maintain its property in a certain condition: the implied warranty of habitability. The basic premise behind the doctrine is that a landlord warrants that the dwelling at issue is fit for its intended purpose – that is, it sets a minimum standard by requiring that the areas in which its tenants will live are suitable for human inhabitance. Depending on conditions, the presence of bed bugs may diminish the habitability of a dwelling or render it altogether uninhabitable.

C. Battery
Another potential avenue for pursuing damages related to bed bug infestation focuses on battery, the tort that addresses intentional, unpermitted acts that result in the harmful or offensive contact with another person. Essentially, the landlord’s awareness of a condition that is known to cause harm in such a manner, absent any effort to stop such contact from occurring, constitutes battery.

Hotel Negligence
Whether the hotel is a five-star hotel or a one-star motel, bed bugs do not discriminate, and the standard of care remains the same for everyone: Hotels are obligated to provide clean and sanitary hotel rooms, free from bed bug infestation. By renting a bed bug infested room, the hotel has breached its duty.  Guests are entitled to recover damages for their injuries caused by the hotel’s negligence.

Compensation for Bed Bug Bites
Being bitten by bed bugs can be a traumatic experience. As many victims have found, it is not just about the bites and property damage.  Emotional distress and anxiety can be debilitating, especially if the injury was severe.  We have recovered the following compensation in hotel bed bug cases:
– pain and suffering for bed bug bites
– property discarded to avoid bringing an infestation home
– emotional distress and anxiety related to sleeplessness and constant fear of bed bugs after being bitten
– long-term and permanent scarring and skin disfigurement
– the cost of ruined vacations and trips
– the cost to replace personal property that had to be thrown away because of the bed bug infestation
– lost wages from work due to side effects from being bitten by bed bugs

If you have been bitten by bed bugs or believe that you have been bitten by bed bugs, you should do the following things:
– Take photographs of the bed bug bites and document the dates.
– Try to capture a bed bug and place it in a zip lock bag.  Do not keep more than 1 bed bug in a bag because the bed bugs will try to kill the other bug in a closed environment.
– Go see a doctor to confirm that the bites are actually bed bug bites.
– Notify management at the hotel or in the apartment building about the bed bug problem in your living quarters.
– If you are living in a New York City apartment, call 311 and contact HPD.
– If you have started to throw out or replace items, keep receipts for the replacement items that are purchased.
– Contact the Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C.

Free Consultations.  Call us now at 646-504-7384, or use our Contact Page

Pest Control Companies
Pest Control companies have a duty to properly inspect for and treat all infestations, including bed bugs.  When a pest control company fails to properly inspect and detect an infestation of bed bugs in a bed bug infested home, hotel room or apartment building, the tenant is left with an infestation that continues to plague them.  In an apartment complex situation, if the pest control company fails to detect the infestation, the property manager will often refuse to have another company inspect, leaving the tenant at the mercy of the bed bugs.  In some instances, the Pest Control company may fail to advise the tenant of the best course of treatment or fail to inform them of what steps should be taken before and after treatment.

When a pest control company fails to treat an infestation properly, the person whose residence they negligently treat can be severely injured.  We have seen a situation where a person exposed to bed bug chemicals developed multiple chemical sensitivities, a heightened sensitivity to chemicals and fragrances.

Unfortunately, some pest control companies do not follow industry guidelines, do not use licensed or experienced bed bug exterminators, use the wrong chemicals to treat an infestation, do not inspect and conduct an efficient treatment, or do enough treatment sessions. The conduct of the Pest Control companies could possibly worsen the problem they were called to fix.  We have experience holding these companies responsible for their negligence.

Contact The Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C. to discuss your case.
Free Consultations.  Call us now at 646-504-7384, or use our Contact Page