Bed bugs can be a costly problem for hotels, not just in terms of reputation and lost business, but also in terms of legal expenses. Like a fire, flood or other natural disaster, a bed bug lawsuit can be enough to financially ruin a property without having adopted the proper protection. Bed bug-related legal issues have become increasingly common in recent years, with scandalous headlines affecting almost every major brand. If hotels do not protect themselves—in large part by implementing a bed bug preventive strategy—they can expect to spend a significant amount of money defending themselves against claims and lawsuits.
According to a 2018 survey by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), 97% of pest control professionals reported treating for bed bugs in the past year. This is up from 81% in 2013, and although more recent data from the NPMA is unavailable, pest control companies like Orkin continue to report in 2023 that bed bugs are a significant problem across the country. When guests find bed bugs in their rooms, they may sue the hotel for damages related to physical injuries, emotional distress and/or property damage. In some cases, multiple guests from a particular hotel may combine their claims and file a class-action lawsuit.
Defending against these lawsuits can be expensive. According to a 2017 report by Orkin, the average cost of a bed bug lawsuit settlement is about $17,000, and the average cost of a jury verdict is almost $24,000. Defendants must hire lawyers, expert witnesses and other consultants to build and present their cases in court. These expenses can add up quickly, especially if the case lasts months or even years. The cost of defense can also increase depending on the severity of the infestation. The worst-case scenario is a class-action lawsuit is filed seeking millions of dollars for damages.
Consider the alternative: a positive allocation of monies for hotels to improve their facilities rather than incurring the expense of defending themselves while embroiled in bed bug-related legal issues. Hotels may have no other choice than to delay or cancel plans to renovate rooms, upgrade amenities or hire more staff while paying thousands for legal representation. This can compromise guest satisfaction, as they may notice outdated or poorly maintained facilities, long wait times for service or other signs of neglect.
In an effort to effectively avoid bed bug-related legal issues, hotels must be proactive in preventing infestations. This includes regular inspections by trained pest management professionals, prompt treatment of any infestations that are discovered and ongoing staff education and training. Using an active mattress liner like ActiveGuard® as the centerpiece of an overall preventive plan stops bed bugs from biting and laying eggs for two years, working 24/7 to protect your guests. A prevention-based program featuring ActiveGuard can reduce the hotel’s risk of lawsuits and protect its reputation and bottom line.
Bed bug-related legal issues can be a considerable expense for hotels, diverting funds from maintaining their facilities and providing a better guest experience. To avoid these costs, hotels need to embrace prevention and take swift action when bed bugs are discovered. By doing so, they can protect their guests, their reputation and their bottom line.
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