Updated: February 3, 2021

Bed bugs have terrorized people for centuries, causing some degree of injury or irritation to anyone unfortunate enough to have been exposed.

These small insects hide in bedding, clothing, and furniture….

They come out at night and feed on victims while they’re asleep and at their most vulnerable.

The losses that victims of bed bugs experience can be severe in some cases.

They can come in the form of financial ruin, physical injury & scarring, or long-term emotional harm.

Can I Really Sue For Bed Bugs?

If you or a family member have been bitten by bed bugs..

Do you have the right to sue?

Can you potentially receive financial compensation for the damages you sustained?

The short answer is Yes….

Depending on the situation, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit.

Lawsuits filed as a result of injuries suffered from bed bugs are common, however they’re not always won. In order to win a case, you need to gather the correct evidence….

As the burden of proof is on you.

Laws surrounding bed bugs differ by state, so it’s important to get in touch with an attorney, who can walk you through local regulation and ordinances surrounding these pests in your area.

Some cities like Chicago, have strict laws surrounding bed bugs, whereas in cities like Milwaukee things are a bit murkier.

Let’s dive into different residences, stores, or facilities, where you can file a lawsuit if you were infested by bed bugs.

Can You Sue For Bed Bugs in Your Apartment?

In most states, landlords are required by law to deliver a property that’s free of dangerous conditions.

This falls under the doctrine called the implied warranty of habitability.

This is an unstated guarantee that:

A rental property meets basic living and safety standards before occupation, and promises to maintain these standards through the duration of occupancy. 

The landlord is responsible for ensuring this warranty is met, not the renter. Even if the lease doesn’t state this doctrine specifically, it is implied in the lease (in all states except Arkansas).

Tenants living in uninhabitable conditions (such as bed bug infested apartments) have legal remedies to force the hand of landlords to meet their obligations to living standards.

Tenants have a few options if they believe their landlord is in breach of his/her duty:

  • Withhold Rent (To stay in compliance with the law, rent should be put in escrow in a dedicated bank account)
  • Write a Demand Letter (Notify the landlord of substandard conditions and mention the legal consequences of inaction).
  • Early Move Out – You can move out of the residence without being held liable for your lease.

Before you take any of the above actions you should consult with a lawyer to ensure you’re in compliance with the laws in your state.

The tenant has responsibilities as well when it comes to landlord-tenant obligation. As long as you (as the tenant) continue to pay rent and meet your obligations, you may be able to hold your landlord liable for a bed bug infestation.

Apartment Bed Bug Case

In 2018 a civil jury in Alhambra awarded a Los Angeles Family $1.6 million dollars from a bed bug infestation. The family suffered for months, and their baby was covered in bites. (Source: NBC Los Angeles)

The family claims that they complained to property management, only to be told to throw out all of their belongings and sleep on the floor.  

The child (now 8 years old) experienced significant scarring from the infestation, and the family says a portion of the payout will be dedicated to cosmetic treatment for the boy to remove scarring.

Check out the video below for another case example of two women who suffered more than 50 bites at their new apartment.

Can You Sue a Hospital For Bed Bugs?

Medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics, or local offices are expected to be a safe, and clean place for patients to recover.

Hospitals are full of sick people, so there is an inherent risk of going to the hospital, but people don’t typically associate that risk with being infested by bed bugs.

The last thing that sick patients need are bed bug bites to occur (on top of the injury they’re already experiencing). These bites can inflame or exacerbate an existing condition, leading to more severe injuries and a longer hospital stay.

If you experienced bed bugs at a hospital (as a patient or visiting a patient) you deserve to be compensated for your losses.

The NPMA (National Pest Management Association) released studies related to bed bugs in hospitals.

The study found that pest management companies responded to over 50% more bed bug cases in hospitals than in the previous decade.

The NPMA has also released protocols for medical facilities to help actively prevent, and address bed bug infestations.

These protocols include the following:

Develop a Written Bed Bug Action Plan

This includes monitoring for early detection and keeping all areas within the hospital clean. Staff should wash/dry clothes consistently, with aggressive sanitation measures across the hospital.

Bed Bug Awareness & Education Program

All staff should be educated and on alert for signs of a bed bug infestation. Environmental services should do routine inspections and caregivers should listen for reports of bites by patients and visitors.

Responding to an Incident

If bed bugs are reported, staff should get samples of the bed bugs and arrange for inspection as soon as possible….. 

The patient should be moved and the infested areas should be closed off.

If you were or a loved one is currently a patient (or recently a patient) that experienced bed bugs in a hospital, you should use the above criteria, to determine whether the hospital failed to properly prevent, or address an existing infestation.

If you believe the hospital failed to provide a safe environment, causing you bed bug related injuries, you could be entitled to compensation.

Can You Sue a Nursing Home For Bed Bugs?

Bed bug infestations are a growing problem in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and elderly care units.

The number of reported cases in nursing homes has grown by 60% in recent years, hitting a demographic of people that are among the world’s most vulnerable.

Bed bugs tend to infest where people gather, which is especially true when you have people coming and going regularly. Nursing homes get visitors every day, from people trying to visit their relatives or loved ones.

The facilities that are poorly maintained are especially susceptible to infestations because they spread without anybody noticing.

How Nursing Homes Can Be Held Liable

Nursing homes can be on the hook if evidence of negligence and abuse is found toward the elderly.

This can be due to….

Inadequate Staffing – When the nursing home doesn’t have enough staff to realistically identify an infestation (or they mistake an infestation from similar looking insects).

Poorly Trained Staff – When there’s a lack of education or knowledge transfer on the part of management related to preventing, identifying, or dealing with an infestation.

 

Bed bug infestations in nursing homes can lead to serious injury, or death to the residents that live there.

Bed bugs are more dangerous to victims that have pre-existing conditions or health issues.

If you believe a nursing home or assisted living facility failed to maintain a safe environment, leading to a bed bug infestation, you may have a case for a lawsuit.

Nursing Home Bed Bug Case

A Georgetown nursing home admitted to having an ongoing bed bug problem according to WMBF News. A health worker who had dedicated years to the facility unknowingly brought bed bugs home to her family. The healthcare worker was then let go for voicing concerns about the bed bugs. The employee then sued the facility for damages (still ongoing).

The worker had to spend $5,000 on pest control to remove the infestation from her home as well as her mother’s home.

Can You Sue a Furniture Store For Bed Bugs?

Buying used items from a furniture store can be a great way to save money.

Sometimes you can get higher-end furniture for less than half the original price…

There is a stigma surrounding buying used things such as electronics, where you run the risk of the item breaking soon after your purchase.

With furniture people don’t think too hard about the risks, which is why used furniture is the cause for a growing number of bed bug infestations.

12% of reported bed bug cases originate from used furniture (according to a major pest control specialist).

Furniture stores that knowingly sell items infested with bed bugs could be held liable, because these items are considered defective and they’re putting customers in danger.

View the below resources for bed bug information and case examples at the following furniture store companies:

Ikea

Bob’s Discount Furniture

Aaron’s Furniture

Used furniture stores may have a duty to provide you with sanitary, bed bug free furniture. If the store is in breach of this duty they could be on the hook for damages.

If you fell victim to a bed bug infestation as a result of used furniture you purchased, you may be entitled to compensation.

Get in touch with a personal injury lawyer for a FREE no-obligation consultation. There are no fees unless you win your case.

Rent A Center Bed Bug Case

A woman is suing after she claimed furniture she rented from Rent-A-Center was infested with bed bugs. Leah Angle says she was just attempting to build a home for her family when she rented furniture from a Rent-A-Center in Houston.

After multiple trips to the hospital, Angle found out that her entire family was suffering from bed bug bites. She has since hired a lawyer and is looking to receive compensation for the injuries sustained by Angle and her family. (Source: click2houston)

WayFair Bed Bug Case:

Wayfair might be on the receiving end of a class action lawsuit against them, alleging they have been knowingly selling mattresses that were infested with bed bugs for over 2 years.

Wayfair’s customers have been extremely vocal about the situation, submitting numerous complaints, and claiming Wayfair has known about the problem since June 2016. 

Example of a Wayfair complaint:

My husband started experiencing the same type of bumps but on his arm. We have literally spent the past 48 hours tearing this entire house apart; all clothing, towels, blankets, anything of that nature we had to treat at the laundry mat, pulling entire rooms apart spraying scrubbing steaming vacuuming crying sweating all the while with that pit in your stomach to realize what has actually happened in your home! We’ve trashed our bed our couches our pillows for our bed and couches, rugs, and clothing we decided we could do without. We’ve lost our entire weekend cleaning a problem that I feel we could have prevented had I researched ordering from here a little deeper! 

— JUN 24 [2018] 

Interested in whether you can sue a hotel for bed bugs? Click here for more information.

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Date Published: 2020-05-20

Written By Robert Brown

I'm a seasoned pest control veteran. I focus my time on writing educational content about the industry and helping people learn about indoor insects. When I'm not thinking about bed bugs I am spending time with my daughters or walking the dog.

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