Posted By Alan Sackrin on December 6, 2016
In Florida, furniture rental companies, as well as sellers of new furniture, have an obligation to rent or sell furniture, including mattresses, chairs and sofas, that are free of infestation. Failure to do so, can lead to personal injury claims for things like pain and suffering, lost wages, emotional distress and more.
What most people do not know is that before a company will agree to remove the furniture or clean your home is that the rental company, like Rent-A-Center or Arron Rents, will require you to sign a general release. Signing a release waives your right to be compensated for your injuries.
A release or a waiver should not be signed by anyone until they have had an attorney review it and explain it’s impact on your injury claim.
Why Can Bed Bugs Spread From Rented or New Furniture to Your Home?
Florida furniture rental companies and businesses that sell new furniture need to properly inspect and have measures in place, including having a preventative maintenance program that looks for and properly treats any bed bug infestation.
The basis for most lawsuits for these bed bug infestations relate to these companies doing the following:
- Failure to inspect and proactively treat the furniture for bed bugs prior to the furniture being rented to a new customer;
- Failing to assure that the locations where furniture and other merchandise sold and leased to their customers are kept prior to delivery are free of bed bug infestation;
- Attempting to use self-help bed bug treatment methods such as spraying chemicals or rubbing alcohol to treat infested furniture instead of contracting with a licensed pest control contractor for professional treatment;
- Failing to warn customers that the furniture they had purchased or rented could be infested or had come into contact with bed bugs, and failing to educate their customers to to the potential signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation;
- Failing to inspect and promptly remove the infested bedroom furniture once they are notified that the furniture is infested with bed bugs;
- Failing to arrange for prompt, effective and competent professional extermination services to eliminate bed bugs from the customer’s home after it has become became infested with bed bugs from rental furniture; and
- Employing a business model that the rent-to-own business knew or should have known created and or increased the risks that the furniture they sold/leased was infested with bed bugs.
Can Bed Bugs Cause a Personal Injury Claim?
Due to the invasive nature of bed bugs (they can lay several eggs per day), an infestation can lead to personal injury claims against a business owner and/or other interested parties (i.e. the company that sold you the furniture).
If you show signs of a bite, from a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction, then the rental company or the business that sold you the furniture may be held liable for those injuries. In Florida, furniture rental companies have a duty to provide bug free goods (some duties can be contracted away – check your agreement).
Further, a claim for damages in a bed bug lawsuit can be significant, particularly if you have engaged the help of a mental health professional for severe emotional distress. Those damages are in addition to claims for pain and suffering, lost wages, reimbursement of medical expenses, disposal expenses, property damage and more. To this end, be sure to take pictures or video of your bites and try to collect evidence of the infestation, including capturing a bed bug, if possible.
If you are dealing with a bed bug issue with the furniture you rented or purchased, a good piece of advice is to at least speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer to learn about your rights, including what information you will need to make a claim and the amount of damages you may be able to recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.