Ah, a phrase we’ve all surely heard or even used “Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite.” For most, it’s simply an endearing way of saying ‘Goodnight’ or ‘Sleep Well,’ but to those who have had the unfortunate experience of rooming with bed bugs, the saying takes on a vastly different meaning. Over the past few years, the creepy crawly blood-suckers have made their ways back to our homes… and, namely, our beds. Maybe you wake up with a few bites, a little itchy, but before long, you notice you’re covered in little red dots and constant painful itching. What can you do? Well, first step is to get an exterminator. And, yes, likely it will be as bad a process as you’ve heard. Bed bugs are very difficult to get rid of so the process is onerous (and worth it!).
Along with getting an exterminator, see a doctor. You want to make sure you take care of any allergic reactions and get the proper course of treatment to limit any significant or potential long term damage (including scarring).
Now, I’ve described a perfect situation – assuming you have control over the situation and know exactly the pest with which you’re dealing. However, unless you are familiar with bed bugs, you may not know what’s bugging you (pardon the pun). So, if you are trying self-help things like throwing out your mattress, you may only be dampening the problem. Bed bugs can be in about anything, including light sockets. Another consideration is where you are experiencing the problems. For example, if you are in a hotel, what do you do? Or, if you are a renter, what can you do? Well, both have a duty to free you of this pest. If you are at a hotel, switching rooms may do the trick, BUT, I would recommend getting out of there. We’ll discuss your legal options shortly.
If you are a renter, you need to contact your landlord immediately to inform him of the situation. Your landlord’s response should be to hire an exterminator immediately and put you up for the duration (or make alternate arrangements). If your landlord takes any action other than immediate remediation, you need to take action. While I would recommend seeing a landlord-tenant attorney familiar with these situations, the Florida Statutes do provide you the tools to do it alone. Provide your landlord with a rent withholding letter stating the bed bug issue and providing reasonable time (generally 7 days) to fix it. If the landlord still decides to take no action, you can provide notice that you are terminating the lease due to his or her noncompliance and you leave.
Now, all of this is not only a headache, but can entail high costs – both financially and physically. What can you do? Well, likely you’ll want to consult with a landlord-tenant attorney who has dealt with bed bugs. Generally, the first step is going to be gathering all evidence of injuries and monetary losses. Your attorney will contact the landlord regarding potential insurance policies to cover the losses. Putting together all of the facts and evidence, your attorney will put together what is often referred to as a “demand package.” Basically, this is what it sounds like – a demand, generally for money. The package should contain an explanation of the claim along with relevant evidence to support the claim. A good demand package can be a really effective tool. From there, negotiations will take place and, if successful, you will have redress. If not, you will have the choice to litigate the matter.
Now, here’s the most important tip I can provide – THIS IS NOT A LOTTERY TICKET. If your attorney tells you it is, you need to find another attorney. Keep in mind that pursuing redress for your losses is just that – redress. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but unless you have an exceptional situation, you need to stay realistic about your case. That is not to say you agree to any offer on the table, but only that you never look at this lawsuit – or any lawsuit – as a lottery ticket. You should look at it as a means to make you whole. Prior to endeavoring any lawsuit or redress, you should find an attorney that can walk you through the entire process… and one with whom you have a good fit regarding communication and approach to the matter.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of sharing your bed with bed bugs, call The Law Office of W. Chase Carpenter today for a free consultation.