Termites are delicate and small insects that devour wood and return it to the soil. Termite damage to your property can result in significant financial losses. What may appear to be minor damage to windows or baseboards may only be insight into the devastating destruction going on inside your floors and walls.
If you suspect you have termite damage, what should be your next step? And if you’ve been the victim of termite fraud, when should you call a termite lawyer?
What Are the Signs of Termite Damage?
Termites will target the wood in your home as their primary source of food, including doors, flooring, window frames, and the framed structure of your home. But termites can also attack other materials inside your home such as siding, drywall, concrete, and furnishings.
There are a number of tell-tale signs that you have a termite problem. In some cases, you might actually see termite swarms inside your home, particularly during the insect’s mating season. You may also discover piles of termite wings that are discarded after an insect finds a mate.
If you tap on a piece of wood and it has a hollow sound, this could mean that termites are consuming the material from the inside out. Windows that fit too tight in their frames could be a sign of warping due to infestation. Finally, the presence of small mud tubes in your home’s foundation can indicate the presence of termites as the insects use these to burrow into the structure from the outside.
Who is Responsible for Termite Damage?
Termites impact roughly 600,000 homes in the U.S. each year, and the damage they inflict can be considerable. Americans spend an estimated $5 billion annually to repair termite damage and control infestations.
A typical colony takes about five years to grow to a size capable of causing damage. And homeowners that discover damage pay an average of $3,000 in repairs. But the cost of repairs and termite control measures can vary significantly. If you have termite damage, haven’t been provided with effective treatment, or have been the victim of fraud, who is responsible? The answer is, “it depends.”
Termite fraud comes in several different forms:
- Failure to Disclose Termite Infestation – When you purchase a property, the previous owner may have failed to disclose a known termite infestation. The party that hands over the property is required to disclose all known facts that could impact the property’s safety and value. If they did not do so, you might have a valid claim.
- Home Inspection Fraud – A home inspector that sees evidence of termite infestation would be considered negligent if they did not report it. One possible reason for doing this is that they are working with a real estate professional that wants the sale to go through.
- Termite Inspection Fraud – Fraud can occur when a pest control company says that a property is termite-free when it isn’t. Or, a pest control company might claim that there are termites present, even planting false evidence of insects, when there aren’t, in order to get an expensive treatment contract. In either case, the company could be held accountable for damages.
- Use of Ineffective Termite Treatment – Termite fraud can occur when a pest control company promises to fully take care of your issue but instead provides a cheap and ineffective service that accomplishes little or nothing. In some cases, a company might recommend an overly expensive treatment when something much less would suffice.
- Control vs. Extermination Contracts – Some property owners sign complicated contracts with pest control companies believing they are getting one thing when the contract states something different. For example, a pest control company might verbally imply that a contract will exterminate termites, but the contract only calls for them to provide “control” services, which will not eliminate an infestation.
Unfortunately, not all property owners and pest control companies are ethical. When another party employs tactics that are meant to mislead you about the presence of termites or the effectiveness of treatment, you may have a right to compensation.
When Should You Call a Termite Lawyer?
Discovering termite damage on your property is stressful, particularly if you are a new owner or have trusted a pest control company to help you address the issue. If you have been deceived by another party and have suffered financial losses, including diminished property value, you have the right to pursue compensation and should speak with an experienced termite litigation attorney.
Termite and large pest control companies hide behind large insurance companies, who are interested in protecting the reputation of major brands and minimizing claim payouts. Using a variety of shady tactics, these companies will attempt to convince property owners that their clients are not responsible for damages and that any issues can be fixed using cheap and simple cosmetic repairs.
If you have a termite infestation on your property, you may be entitled to various types of compensation. At Reeves & Mestayer, PLLC, we help clients pursue compensation related to damaged property, mental anguish, emotional distress, costs associated with moving and storage, and possible punitive damages.
In 2019, a Biloxi, MS couple sued Orkin for termite infestation in their home, alleging contract fraud. The couple was awarded $1.9 million in damages, including $1 million in punitive damages.
There are undoubtedly many other property owners who are dealing with termite fraud and wondering whether they should call a termite lawyer. We recommend that you contact us immediately to discuss your case.
Contact an Experienced Mississippi Termite Damage Attorney
Reeves & Mestayer, PLLC, based in Biloxi is a plaintiff’s litigation firm dedicated to protecting the interests of property owners throughout Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. We work with an experienced team of seasoned termite experts who will evaluate your property, and we can also refer you to a network of reputable contractors who will work with you to repair termite damage.
Contact our office today at 1-855-558-2977 or reach out online for a free case evaluation. We will meet with you to discuss your situation and advise you of your options.