Our firm has particular expertise in bed bug bite claims. We have successfully represented hundreds of clients in these specialist claims.
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 52 degrees centigrade, while a single female can produce up to 12 eggs per day and 400 from a single mating producing viable eggs months after last mating. 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 decontamination. These costs can often be included when claiming compensation for bed bug bites.
Working with our pest control specialist partners, we can advise you on how to isolate your luggage and possessions and arrange for them to be sent to a dedicated decontamination facility and then sent back to you. We can also provide you with an information and monitoring pack that will ensure that your home remains clear. Our team understands your need for help and support at this stressful time which is why we continually work to provide you with the best possible advice and care.
As the bed bug problem continues to increase, it is not just cases in hotels, hostels and rented accommodation, there are also regular newspaper and radio reports about bed bugs on planes, in cinemas, on public transport, in offices and just about any other location that people visit. We all expect to be able to use these facilities without fear of bed bug bites, but often those responsible fail to take the necessary to protect the public.
Taking legal action when problems occur helps those responsible see that they need to take steps to prevent the same happening to other people in the future, and helps those affected seek closure to what can be a traumatic and stressful experience.
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 as we want to help you restore your life to normal. We are able to put you in touch with therapists who are trained in the medical and technical aspects of bed bug bites, and who also have clinical experience of dealing with traumatic issues of this kind.
With many people in the UK planning ‘staycations’ this year in preference to holidays overseas, some inevitably face the unpleasant prospect of being bitten by bed bugs at their hotel, guest house or B&B. Bed bugs can breed all year round, but are especially active in the summer months due to warm weather (which can halve the time it takes the insects to reproduce), and their ability to hitch a ride in tourists’ luggage, spreading infestations far and wide.
A recent U.S. report found that 97% of pest control experts had been called out to exterminate bed bugs in the past 12 months, while two-thirds stated that the number of bed bug calls they receive was increasing. Returning holidaymakers need to be aware of the danger of bringing bed bugs home with them, and there are a number of important recommendations to prevent private home infestations:
1) Luggage: Experts recommend opening suitcases and bags away from any upholstered furniture or soft furnishings when arriving at a holiday destination, as these are the most common locations where bed bugs hide. If there is even a remote possibility that you have brought the insects home with you, the contents of your luggage should be run through a dryer cycle on a high heat for at least 15 minutes, which will kill the bed bugs.
2) Holiday purchases: If you have bought clothing or soft or upholstered items of furniture while on holiday (particularly if purchased second hand), even after a close inspection you may not have noticed bed bugs or their eggs hiding inside. Again, such items should be run through the dryer on a high heat for a minimum of 15 minutes before being washed normally.
3) Handbags, purses and wallets: According to the specialists, the lining and pockets of small leather goods of this kind are common places to find stowaway bed bugs. Holidaymakers should check these items thoroughly before returning home to avert the possibility of a difficult to eradicate home infestation.
4) Soft items: Stuffed toys and similar furry objects are perfect places for bed bugs to avoid detection. Children’s soft toys can be put in the dryer on a high heat as described above, while holidaymakers with any other furry item, such as a faux fur jacket collar, should be particularly aware of what a suitable location these articles make for bed bugs to hide out.
Bed bug infestations are clearly on the rise, and can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive to get rid of. Holidaymakers need to be aware of the risk of bed bugs travelling home with them, and follow these simple steps to prevent the possibility of an infestation. If you have been bitten by bed bugs at a holiday destination, contact our team of experts to discuss the matter and find out if you can claim personal injury compensation for what can turn a much-anticipated trip away into a nightmare experience.
Healthcare facilities including hospitals, care homes, hospices and GP surgeries are the most common locations for bed bug infestations after hotels, despite their normally high standards of sanitation and hygiene. Bed bugs can enter healthcare facilities in the clothing and personal belongings of patients, as well as those of visitors and staff. The high turnover of people in these locations increases the risk of bed bug infestations, with the possible knock-on effect of patients, visitors or staff taking the bed bugs home with them and causing a domestic infestation.
Bed bugs are extremely good at concealing themselves, and may be found in mattresses, bedding, bed frames, headboards, soft furniture, clothing and even behind pictures on the wall. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities need to have clear policies in place to address the risk of bed bugs. In particular, staff need to be trained to spot bed bugs and signs of an infestation, and a bed bug protocol should be in place both to prevent infestations and to eradicate bed bugs as soon as evidence of their presence emerges. Our firm has recently handled bed bug bite claims on behalf of both patients and employees at healthcare facilities, with compensation awards reflecting the discomfort and distress that bed bug bites typically cause.
Bartletts Solicitors recently represented a family that was bitten by bed bugs while staying at a Center Parcs holiday village, and went on to claim a substantial four-figure sum in compensation from the leisure operator. Members of the family were bitten by bed bugs during their first night’s stay at their Center Parcs lodge, and left with red and sore bite marks on the legs, arms, hands and face which forced them to seek medical attention and ruined a long-anticipated family trip away.
In correspondence with Center Parks and the holiday village operator’s insurers, our solicitors argued that a bed bug infestation was a reasonably foreseeable risk to the health and safety of guests, and efficient measures should have been in place to prevent bed bugs from breeding in the lodges provided to guests. The holiday village in question had failed to provide safe accommodation to the family, and had consequently breached the duty of care it owed them. The family’s compensation award reflected the physical pain, emotional suffering and disruption to the family holiday caused by the bed bug bites.
Our firm acted on behalf of two small children who were on holiday with their parents at a resort and were bitten repeatedly by bed bugs on their first night’s stay. The children woke up with itchy and unsightly red welts all over their bodies, and were deeply distressed by the situation. They received basic first aid at the holiday resort’s medical centre, and the family decided to cut short their holiday and leave the same day.
Despite the family’s best cleaning efforts prior to departure, the bed bugs had already infiltrated the children’s luggage, and the family home later required the services of pest control specialists to eradicate a bed bugs infestation. Mr and Mrs F complained to the resort’s management, and were offered a refund on their stay, but feeling that this was a wholly inadequate response to what they had gone through, decided to seek legal advice.
As both children were minors in the eyes of the law, their parents were required to act on their behalf, and subsequently instructed Bartletts Solicitors to make a claim against the holiday resort for the pain, suffering and disruption to the family holiday that had resulted from the bed bug bites. In correspondence, we pointed out that holiday resorts are subject to the terms of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, and must take all reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable hazards, such as a bed bugs infestation, from causing harm to their visitors. In this case, we argued that the resort was clearly liable for failing to provide Mr and Mrs F’s children with reasonably safe accommodation. Following an admission of liability from the holiday resort’s insurers, the children received a combined total of compensation in excess of £5,000 for their injuries, and the loss of enjoyment of their holiday.
Read more: Bed Bug Bite Case Studies