Can You Sue a Hotel for Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are a fear for anyone who travels – and with good reason. These tiny bugs are painful, and they can be extremely difficult and expensive to get rid of once they have infested an area. If bed bugs hitchhiked onto your clothing or your luggage from a hotel room, you may be feeling like someone should compensate you for the cost and nuisance of their removal, which might even include alternative living arrangements until the bugs have been cleared from your home.

What Are Bed Bugs?

These insects are small – about the size of an apple seed – brown, and oval. They live off the blood of people and animals. They crawl across floors and ceilings. Like lice, they don’t fly but they are excellent hitchhikers and have been known to hitch onto travelers’ luggage or clothing after staying in hotels.

Some people assume that bed bugs are from dirty residences, but that’s not necessarily the case, and they don’t transmit diseases. Any area can get infested with bed bugs; all it takes is one to infest an entire residence. They have been found in 5-star hotels as well as low-income housing.

Can I Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

Getting rid of bed bugs isn’t easy once one has found its way into your home. Wash and dry all clothing and bedding in the hottest water cycle of your washing machine. They can be killed by heat. You can try to vacuum your beds and furniture, but in the worst cases, you’ll need to discard them. Steam clean any carpeting in addition to vacuuming. When you empty the vacuum bin, put the refuse into a sealed container.

Can I Sue for Getting Bed Bugs?

The good news is that you can sue a hotel for negligence if you got bed bugs after a stay. The more difficult news is that you must prove the hotel was negligent and that negligence is what caused your luggage or clothing to become targeted.

To prove negligence, you’ll have to prove the hotel knew about the infestation and didn’t take proper measures to rid the rooms of the bugs, or that the hotel didn’t do proper inspections and that lack of care resulted in the bed bug infestation. What makes this difficult to prove is the initial invisibility of a few bed bugs. How would a hotel know if there was an issue at an early stage? One hitchhiker could populate your entire home. It would be impossible for a hotel to have this kind of foresight – at least that is likely what the court will think.

If you have had an infestation, be sure to keep all evidence of your hotel stay as well as receipts for everything you’ve paid for treatment and bed bug removal.

You can file a lawsuit if you find enough evidence that the hotel acted negligently in their response to bed bugs. Your possible damages may include:

  • New luggage
  • New clothing
  • Bed bug treatment/removal from home
  • Alternative lodging during treatment
  • Time lost from work to handle infestation

Why West Virginia Is Different

As early as last year, West Virginia was still in the throes of a bed bug epidemic. Tenants of homes infested with bed bugs had no protection under state or federal laws. Current state law requires that hotels be free of bed bugs, but there is no state law regarding rentals.

Because the prevalence of bed bugs in this area is such an issue, hotels should be diligent in their prevention of bed bug infestations. If you think your home was infested because you stayed in a hotel with bed bugs, contact an attorney at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC to discuss your case.