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Carbon monoxide, also known as the “silent killer,” is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas that can cause brain damage and even death upon excessive inhalation. Because carbon monoxide (CO) cannot be perceived by human senses, carbon monoxide poisoning can quickly harm or kill unsuspecting victims.
Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide, if not fatal, can cause chronic health effects such as lethargy, headaches, problems focusing, amnesia, psychosis, Parkinson’s disease, memory impairment, and changes in personality, among others.
About 500 people are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning annually in the United States, and an additional 15,000 people visit the hospital for related injuries.
If you or someone you love has experienced carbon monoxide poisoning, and another party is to blame, get in touch with our San Jose carbon monoxide poisoning lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde today. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and earning capacity, pain and suffering, and more.
On This Page
- How Negligence Can Lead to CO Poisoning
- Responsibility of Landlords & Businesses
- Causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
How Negligence Can Lead to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Poor manufacturing or design can result in defects which cause carbon monoxide to leak from gas appliances and other products. The negligent manufacturing or design of these products may result in illness or death, depending on the level of leakage.
Additionally, it is possible for an appliance technician to fail to identify a potential problem or fail to repair a carbon monoxide leak, resulting in a dangerous condition. In either of these cases, the negligent party may be held liable in civil court.
Gas appliance manufacturers, maintenance technicians, and property owners all have a duty to ensure the safety of their products or premises, and to perform competent investigations and necessary repairs. Should any of these parties be negligent in their duty, they could expose innocent people to a deadly gas.
Determining fault in a carbon monoxide poisoning case is no easy task. You want to hold the at-fault party responsible for the losses you have suffered, but proving they were at-fault is complicated. This is why you should hire an experienced lawyer.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can give rise to personal injury lawsuits in certain situations. But who can be held liable for this type of injury or fatality?
Landlords and businesses are legally required to take reasonable steps to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from happening on their property. Standard safety precautions may include preventative actions such as conducting regular tests, installing carbon monoxide detectors, and complying with building codes and safety regulations.
If a tenant’s carbon monoxide exposure is caused by the landlord’s failure to maintain or repair a furnace, pipe, or another device in an area that exposed the tenant to carbon monoxide, then the landlord can be held liable for the tenant’s injury.
If a city ordinance makes it mandatory for the landlord to conduct an inspection and repair appliances or devices that may expose a tenant to carbon monoxide and the landlord fails to do so, that situation can result in a personal injury lawsuit.
By contrast, if a tenant’s exposure to carbon monoxide resulted from a defective appliance on his or her property, and it wasn’t defective when the tenancy started, then liability is less clear. In other words, if your landlord didn’t violate any laws or regulations, and was unaware of the defective device, then he or she is not liable.
Yes. All landlords must have carbon monoxide detectors installed in their dwelling units, and the devices must be operable when tenants take residence.
However, tenants are responsible for notifying their landlords whenever they become aware of an inoperable or dysfunctional carbon monoxide detector. If a landlord does not fix a broken CO device upon request, they are in violation of the law.
Unless the proper alarms are in place, the presence of dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide may go undetected by the hapless residents of an affected household.
Perhaps the most alarming fact about carbon monoxide poisoning is that its many sources include common household items, such as the following:
- Oil and gas heaters
- Water heaters
- Kitchen gas stoves
- Lawn mowers
- Charcoal and gas grills
- Gasoline and diesel generators
- Gas-powered tools
- Camp stoves
Some of these items, such as grills and automobiles, emit carbon monoxide fumes naturally and should never be left operating inside enclosed spaces without proper ventilation. Others, such as heaters and stoves, may spring gas leaks if faulty.
If you haven’t already, you should install a carbon monoxide detector in your house. It is a device that notifies you of the presence of carbon monoxide in the air with a distinct audible alarm. Not only can this device potentially save your life, but it is also required by law to be installed in every dwelling unit intended for human occupancy that includes a fossil fuel burning appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage.
This includes single-family homes, duplexes, lodging houses, dormitories, hotels and motels, condos, time-share projects, and multiple-unit dwelling buildings.
Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu.
So how can a person protect themselves from something they don’t even know is there? Taking the necessary precautions in your own home is one thing, but how can you predict being exposed to carbon monoxide on another’s property? Or how do you know that gas appliance you just bought doesn’t have a dangerous defect?
The unfortunate answer is you don’t.
Not knowing about the levels of carbon monoxide does not mean you are powerless. By understanding the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, you can identify dangerous situations and remove yourself from them; and if your health was jeopardized by the negligence of another, you have the right to take action.
If you exhibit any of the following symptoms, and there seems to be no reasonable explanation behind them, trust your instincts and go to the hospital:
- Sudden fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Loss of consciousness
Individuals who are burdened with heart disease or other health conditions are usually the first to exhibit symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. The elderly and young children are also more prone to early manifestation of CO poisoning.
Call Caputo & Van Der Walde for a Free Review
If you have suffered considerable losses due to carbon monoxide poisoning, you may have a case for compensation. To find out what your chances of successful litigation are, contact Caputo & Van Der Walde today for a straight answer. Our San Jose carbon monoxide attorneys have the experience to effectively handle your case.