Houston Brown Recluse Spider Bite Attorney
Houston Brown Recluse Spider Bite Lawyer
The Brown Recluse or “Fiddleback” Spider
The brown recluse spider (genus: Loxosceles) is brown to golden-brown in color and typically measures between a quarter of an inch to three-quarters of an inch long, but occasionally may be larger. It usually has markings on the first major body section or cephalothorax with a black line coming from it towards the rear of the spider that looks like a violin neck. It is commonly known under nicknames such as the fiddle-back spider, brown fiddler, or the violin spider due to its unique markings. Unlike most spiders, the brown recluse has only six eyes instead of eight. It is most commonly found the southern Midwest down to the Gulf of Mexico.
The brown recluse is a very private spider that prefers to hide in undisturbed areas. It is typically found in barns, wood piles, warehouses, basements, garages or hiding in or under anything lying on the ground for any significant undisturbed period. Things such as heavy rain and flooding can drive them indoors or they may simply migrate in through holes in the wall or seams through the doors. Once inside, a brown recluse will often seek a dark quiet place to hide such as amongst base boards, in furniture in thick carpeting, in clothing drawers, or between bed sheets. They can multiply at an alarming rate. A single female needs to mate only once to produce eggs for the rest of its life and they can produce up to 150 offspring per year.
The Brown Recluse Spider Bite
The brown recluse is not an aggressive spider. It will bite, however, if pressed against the skin, such as being sat upon in a chair or laid on between bed sheets. The brown recluse spider bite is not always highly noticeable at first. It may feel as light as a pin prick or the spider bite may be as strong as a wasp sting. Some may be relatively harmless. However, others can be very serious causing necrosis, severe pain, permanent scarring, and in some cases death. The pain may be mild to severe and usually develops within a few hours. In the early stages, the symptoms may include pain, nausea, vomiting, chills, headache, fever or rashes as the venom spreads through the body. Some form a necrotizing ulcer in a few days that eats away the tissue leaving deep wounds. The necrosis may continue to spread for weeks to months. Some brown recluse bites can cause serious kidney damage.
If you suspect you have suffered a brown recluse bite, appropriate first aid involves applying ice and aloe vera to the affected area. You should seek medical attention immediately. If the spider is available and easily captured, it may be helpful to bring it in a safe jar or container for identification purposes.
What Makes the Brown Recluse So Special?
There are other dangerous spiders that can do significant damage and may very well give rise to a claim if not dealt with properly by a landlord. However, the brown recluse is particularly dangerous because many people simply do not recognize what they are dealing with when they spot one. Its small size and non-aggressive nature conceal the real threat. A female brown recluse needs to mate only once in its lifetime to produce eggs for the rest of its life. It can produce up to 150 hatchlings per year. Thus, a single female brown recluse can infest a home or apartment very quickly, making it difficult if not impossible to avoid contact by the inhabitants.
Legal Liability for Fiddleback Spider Bites
The Negligent Landlord Spider Case
Legal liability involving a brown recluse bite may exist when:
- the bite occurs at a permanent or temporary residence,
- the person is unaware that the spider is a brown recluse and, therefore, unaware of it’s dangers,
- there exists a special relationship between the resident and residence owner such as rentor-rentee, lessor-lessee, or other landlord-tenant relationship, and;
- the residence owner or manager was aware of the presence of spiders and failed to take reasonable steps to exterminate them timely.
Most rental/lease agreements contain an express or implied warranty of habitability that requires the landlord to provide a place that can be safely inhabited. Extermination duties typically fall upon the property owner. (This can be altered by lease or contract and should be looked at in every individual case.) Liability typically arises when a tenant, sees and reports spiders but does not appreciate the fact that the spider is a brown recluse. Property owners in the Midwest and Southern U.S. should be aware of the presence of brown recluses and other dangerous spiders indigenous to the area. If a property owner/manager fails to act promptly to exterminate the spiders resulting in a tenant getting bitten, the property owner/manager may be liable for failing to provide a habitable place to stay and/or failing to remedy an unreasonable risk of harm.
The Negligent Carpet Installer Spider Case
Another situation where liability may arise regarding the brown recluse is when someone brings them into your home. Rolled up carpet in a warehouse makes an ideal home for a brown recluse to hide and lay eggs. If you have your carpet replaced and suddenly find yourself with a spider infestation, you may well be the recipient of an unwanted gift from the carpet company. Anytime you hire someone to do work in your home, they owe you a duty to exercise reasonable care in doing it in such a way as to not cause you harm. Thus, bringing you a litter of dangerous spiders could result in legal liability.
Other Legal Considerations
While most brown recluse bites are not the result of someone’s negligence (i.e. they occur in the woods, or the landlord has no reason to know or investigate for spiders before hand), many are. Run down apartments, hotels and motels infest the Houston area and their owners/landlords often ignore the requests and complaints of the tenants.
The above issues demonstrate why you need an experienced premises liability lawyer advising you if you have been injured as a result of negligence. If you have been bitten by a brown recluse and you suspect its presence is the result of someone else’s failure to act, you may be able to file a claim for your medical bills and damages caused by their negligence. Call us for a free consultation.
For more reading about legal issues involving brown recluse spiders in nursing homes or medical facilities, please see:
Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.