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Can You Sue Hotel Owners According to CA Bed Bug Law for Hotels?

Many people are cautious of staying in a hotel because it’s one of the most common areas for insect or bed bug infestations. Rental units are prone to bed bugs because the number of people in and out of the premises provides them with a steady food source. Many hotels and guest houses have their way of keeping the bed bugs out, but guests should still be mindful of the place they’re staying at.

So is it possible to sue a hotel owner for bed bugs in California? According to California bed bug laws, property owners like landlords and hotel owners have a responsibility to keep their buildings “habitable” and free of pests. A bed bug infestation is an appropriate reason to sue a hotel for negligence, breach of warranty of habitability, private nuisance, and infliction of emotional distress.

When to Sue a Hotel for Bedbug Injuries

According to 68% of pest control operators in the country, bed bugs are the most difficult pests to eliminate on a property. A chemical treatment used to be the best method for bed bugs in an apartment complex, hotel, or guest house. However, it was eventually found to leave bad effects on the residents and guests staying in the rental units.

Heat treatments are also effective in eliminating these pests by raising the temperature in the building until they can’t survive anymore. It’s much safer than applying a bunch of chemicals to the property that might affect the health of the tenants or guests.

Although there are bed bug prevention policies and treatments available, there are still records of bed bug infestations in hotels around California. If you happen to be a victim of bed bug injury after staying in a bedbug-infested hotel, you may sue them for:

1. Negligence

A landlord or property owner is considered negligent if they failed to do something that a careful person WOULD do, or if they did something that a careful person WOULDN'T do in certain situations. Their action or inaction toward the problem is considered negligence if it caused harm to the tenant or guest.

It’s a landlord’s responsibility to care for and protect tenants and guests that rent their property. This means they need to ensure that the hotel room or rental unit is safe when the guest checks in. They should also do everything they can to fix any kind of hazards that they discover later on.

For example, 16 tenants of the Park La Brea apartment complex were awarded about $3.5 million after winning a bed bug case against the property owner. During the lawsuit, the jury found that the owner knew about the bed bug infestation in the apartment building, but didn’t warn the new tenants about it.

2. Habitability Breach

According to California law, property owners must keep their place “habitable” for the guests and tenants. It means that the building should be fit for a person to live in and free of defects that might endanger a tenant’s health and safety. These “defects” usually refer to debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.

To file for a claim due to breach of warranty of habitability, the guest needs to show evidence of the defective condition and how it affected the habitability of the hotel room. They should also notify the hotel owner about the suspected infestation and give them ample time to fix the bed bug issue.

3. Private Nuisance

Hotel guests may also file a private nuisance claim against the hotel owner if they experienced damages due to bed bugs in the room. A private nuisance claim is only considered if the hotel management’s action or inaction affected the guest’s use and enjoyment of the property. They may also file for a claim if the interference resulted in “substantial actual damages” that were unreasonable in its amount, duration, or nature.

For example, a guest may ask for compensation from the hotel owner if they present evidence that they were repeatedly bitten by an adult bed bug and got itchy welts during their stay in the hotel. They should submit supporting documents for their claim, including medical reports and photos of the bedbug-infested mattress, bed frames, box spring, or a headboard in the hotel room.

4. Emotional Distress

Bed bug infestations are also grounds for suing a hotel owner for intentional infliction of emotional distress in rare cases. It’s often used as an advantage in recovering punitive damages that are added to the ordinary negligence claims and compensatory damages.

For example, a jury may award thousands of dollars to an entire family that was bitten by bed bugs during their stay in a five-star hotel in California. The plaintiff may present evidence that the hotel already had a history of a bed bug problem in the past, but they didn’t take the right steps to get rid of them for good. Their stay in the hotel has caused them to experience severe emotional distress, which makes them eligible for a punitive damage claim.

What to Do if There Are Bedbugs in the Hotel Room

If a guest discovers the presence of bed bugs in the hotel room after checking in, they have the option to sue the hotel owner and claim compensation for the damages. Here are a few important steps to take if there’s a bed bug infestation in the rental property:

  • Document the evidence of bedbug infestation. Take photos of the bed bugs in the mattress seams, sofa, bed frames, box spring, headboard, or other parts of the room. It might be hard to prove that the bed bug bites happened in the hotel room without sufficient evidence.
  • Check if the hotel has a record in the national bedbug registry. This is strong evidence of the hotel owner’s negligence that helps out the plaintiff in court during a bedbug lawsuit.
  • Seek medical attention immediately. The effects of a bed bug bite injury depend on the person’s immune system. It may appear as a red itchy spot, but it may also develop into an itchy welt or painful sore on the skin. Some people even have an allergic reaction to a bed bug bite, which is why it’s important to go to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. Make sure to keep the medical records because they help strengthen a guest’s bed bug case.
  • Call the health department to check the hotel room for a bed bug infestation. The guest should ask for a copy of the report to strengthen the claim that they were attacked by the bed bugs in the hotel room.
  • Notify the hotel management about the infestation. Take note of the people involved in cleaning the room because they might be at fault for being negligent and allowing the bed bugs to infest the rented unit.
  • Talk to a bed bug attorney for legal advice. Bed bug lawsuits involving hotels are difficult to handle, which is why it’s better to hire an experienced bed bug lawyer to make your case.

Compensations for Damages Caused by Bed Bugs in a Hotel Room

Hotel guests may receive compensation for the damages after the bed bug lawsuit. The exact amount depends on different factors like:

  • The severity of the injury — This refers to the number of bed bug bites in the body, any kind of reaction from the bedbug bites, or cosmetic disfigurement caused by the bed bug bite.
  • Monetary loss and property damage — Hotel owners are also required to pay for the damaged items or anything that the guest had to throw out because of the infestation.
  • Medical cost — All medical bills from the hospital visits related to treating the bed bug injury should also be paid by the hotel management.
  • Pain and suffering — Some guests suffer from long-term psychological effects because of the bed bug infestation. They may ask the hotel owner to pay for their medications, therapy, or counseling sessions.

Expert Bed Bug Extermination for Hotels in CA by California Bed Bug Exterminators

Hotels should rely on a licensed pest control operator like California Bed Bug Exterminators to get rid of the bedbugs on their property and avoid lawsuits from affected guests.

Our highly trained team only uses safe and effective bed bug treatment methods to keep the hotel bedbug-free for longer. Call us now to book an inspection or follow-up treatments for your hotel in California.