Hotels make their money based on reputation, and hygienic conditions are essential to building that reputation. We expect to be clean and comfortable where we sleep, especially when paying an establishment which provides that specific service. Suffice it to say, we don’t always get what we pay for. If you stayed at a hotel and experienced conditions that weren’t on par with your expectations, then the business itself might be liable. If you were bitten by bed bugs, then you might be able to sue for personal injury.
As you might expect, any lawsuit involving personal injury is laid upon a foundation that requires as much evidence as possible. If you experienced an unclean or unsafe environment, then there are steps you need to take to ensure you have the best case possible when it comes time to file your suit. Failure to take these steps might result in a reduction of potential recovery or a dismissal or your lawsuit.
In order to win this kind of personal injury lawsuit, you must prove the hotel’s negligence. You must also provide proof of the damages that were incurred. This isn’t always an easy task, especially since no one exactly plans to incur those damages. The hotel almost certainly won’t make it any easier. That’s why you should always photograph your hotel room whenever you stay. If something happens during your visit, you’ll be more easily covered.
Know What to Look for!
First thing’s first. You need to be certain that you file your lawsuit for the right reasons. If you know what to look for, bed bugs can be seen by the naked eye. After feeding, they grow substantially and turn red just like mosquitoes. Take a picture of a red bed bug while still in your hotel room, and you’ll be well on your way to proving a hotel’s negligence.
Know what a bed bug bite looks like. People can react differently to bed bug bites, and so it’s important to seek medical attention. Medical records can provide the requisite proof in such a personal injury case. Allergic reactions to bedbug bites are rare, but the resulting landscape of your skin can be quite unseemly.
Still, research indicates that the vast majority of people, between 30 and 60 percent, experience no visible reaction at all. Since you’re reading up on bed bug personal injury, let’s assume you fall outside of this spectrum. If this is the case, you most likely came down with a nasty rash after being bitten by more than one of the tiny insects.
If left alone, redness and swelling usually dissipate within a week or so. As with any rash, scratching can increase the longevity of any discomfort. The injury might be compounded if you were bitten on more than one occasion. When you’ve been bitten previously, the length of time it takes to react to the most current bite can be drastically reduced in much the same way as you’d expect from multiple poison oak exposures. In such cases, you might note blister-like pustules.
Whatever you do, take a picture of the affected area. DO NOT treat until you have a photograph! If you already treated the bites, your chances of a successful lawsuit will be substantially reduced.
Document and Record Everything
Most hotels provide more than one option for billing. Whatever you do, make sure you keep a copy of the bill. It’s important to know exactly how much you spent on the room, and for how long. Did you stay more than one night? If the answer is yes, were you bitten on more than one night? Be prepared to answer these questions if you go to court.
If you’ve been bitten by bed bugs and require medical attention, be sure to keep records of damages. In addition to the cost of the room, you’ll be able to seek reparation for any medical expenses. If you took pictures of the initial exposure, great. But be sure to continue to document your road to recovery. How long it took you to get better can influence the decision of the court to fall in your favor–especially if it took longer than the average recovery period of one week.
The Bottom Line
Okay, that’s all well and good, but how much can you expect to recover from a bed bug personal injury lawsuit? Well, that all depends. Can you prove the negligence of the hotel? Can you prove damages? How many bites did you incur? Was this a typical bite and reaction, or was it a prolonged exposure with prolonged medical consequences? Was there an accompanying infection or infestation because of the exposure? Were there extensive medical bills incurred? Was there a psychological component to your injury?
Don’t attempt to contact a hotel in order to recover damages on your own. Always seek the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer that has a history of successful premise liability cases. Failure to follow these simple steps might lead you to mistakenly help provide the hotel with information it could use to deny your entitlement to compensation.
If you’re lucky, the hotel will settle the lawsuit outside of court and you’ll avoid a substantial headache on top of the emotional distress you’ve already endured. If not, then evidence is your best friend. Photograph the room, photograph the bugs, photograph your reaction to the bites, photograph your recovery, and retain all of your bills. The more evidence of negligence or damages, the better your chance of getting the compensation you deserve.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abraham Jaros is the co-partner and founder of Jaroslawicz&Jaros PLLC, a law firm based in New York. During his career as a personal injury lawyer he has tried hundreds of cases and won numerous multi-million dollar verdicts on behalf of his clients. When not in the court room he can be found writing to help inspire future lawyers everywhere.