Our firm has particular expertise in bed bug bite claims. We have successfully represented hundreds of clients in these specialist claims. You can read some of our recent case studies such as compensation for bed bug bites in a hotel and compensation for children bitten by bed bugs.
As reported widely in the US and UK media, bed bugs are once again a growing problem in Western countries. Roughly the size of small ladybirds, bed bugs lead a vampire-like existence, invisible by day, and emerging by night to feed on blood. Estimates show that complaints regarding bed bugs have grown by 30% a year since 2000. London and other major UK cities have been badly hit, with offices, shops and hotels being forced to close for disinfestation.
Experts agree that the causes of the current bed bug epidemic are down to two essential factors. Firstly, like most parasites, bed bugs have developed immunity to insecticides over a period of time. Having been virtually eliminated in developed countries in the 1970's and 1980's, pest control firms have long since turned their attention to other insects, and adapted their products accordingly. Secondly in the era of globalisation and cheap international travel, bed bugs are being transferred around the world at ever-increasing speed in clothing and luggage, causing outbreaks in multiple locations.
Bed bugs are not, as is popularly imagined, attracted by dirt and unsanitary conditions (though they do thrive in such environments). Rather, they are mainly drawn to places where large numbers of warm-blooded creatures congregate. It is for this reason that hotels and hostels provide the perfect breeding and feeding ground for these tiny blood-suckers. People are regularly bitten by hundreds of bed bugs while spending one night in a hotel. Staying in a hostel can lead to very bad bed bug bites, as the standard of cleaning is often lower than in a hotel. We have acted for many clients who have claimed compensation for bed bug bites from hotels and holiday resorts.
Bed bugs are hugely well-equipped both for survival and travel. They can live in linen, clothing, mattresses, pillows, carpets, skirting boards and furniture. For this reason they can easily be transferred from home to hotel and vice versa. Their eggs can withstand temperatures of up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, while a single female can produce up to 400 offspring a day. They arrive in hotels via guests’ luggage and may then be transferred from room to room by cleaning staff. Bed bugs may also stowaway in a guest’s luggage, later causing an infestation back at home. This can lead to sizeable future bills for pest control and disinfestation. These costs can often be included in when claiming compensation for bed bug bites.
While bed bugs do not carry diseases, people who are bitten will experience differing physical and mental reactions. A bed bug bite will usually resemble a small red welt, similar to a mosquito bite (though bed bug bites are normally symmetrically spaced, unlike mosquito bites). In severe cases a person may be bitten hundreds of times, and may suffer an allergic reaction and extensive inflammation. If the bites are scratched they may become infected. Visits to the doctor are commonly required, and even psychological counselling, especially when young children have been traumatised after being covered in bites. If your child has been bitten by bed bugs legal and medical advice are all the more important.
This summer’s heatwave may have parched lawns across the country, but the sweltering weather across Europe has also had the unfortunate effect of boosting the UK’s bed bug population, a problem that particularly affects homes, hotels and commercial premises in major towns and cities. Higher temperatures are estimated to more or less halve the reproductive cycle of these tiny bloodsucking insects, exacerbating the problem of bed bug infestations, which in any case have been on the rise for the past two decades.
As British tourists return from foreign holidays, a small minority will be bringing bed bugs home with them stored in luggage, resulting in infestations that can be difficult and costly to deal with. Meanwhile, visitors to hotels, guest houses and B&Bs in the UK may also unwittingly transport bed bugs with them, and both the resilience and breeding capacity of these insects mean that an entire property or resort can become infested in a very short space of time. This can cause massive problems for proprietors in peak season, as successful eradication can be a lengthy and complicated process, usually necessitating the closure of a holiday destination for a period of days or weeks.
Over time, bed bugs have developed immunity to traditional forms of eradication, while cheap global travel has facilitated their transfer from location to location via luggage and clothing. While the general public usually associate bed bugs with grimy hotels in exotic locations, the reality is that bed bugs are not attracted to dirt or unhygienic conditions, but rather to human blood and warm environments that allow them to breed more efficiently. This means that no hotel or holiday property is immune from the threat posed by bed bugs, and consequently neither are their guests, who may subsequently infest their own homes with bed bugs that will have travelled with them stowed away in luggage.
To claim compensation for bed bug bites at a hotel or holiday destination it will usually be necessary to prove that the owners or management were aware of a bed bug infestation, but failed to take adequate measures to deal with the problem. Compensation awards will reflect physical and mental suffering, as well as financial considerations, potentially including the cost of eradicating bed bugs from a guest’s own home. It is also sometimes possible to claim compensation from foreign hotels for bed bug bites as long as a trip was booked with a British tour operator.