Carbon monoxide poisoning is the most common form of fatal poisoning worldwide. Although these deaths may be ruled as “accidental,” the truth is that many of the tragedies could have been avoided.
What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
When people are exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide gas, they first suffer mild symptoms such as headaches, nausea, or dizziness. Since the gas is odorless, they may assume they’re getting the flu, especially when symptoms progress to chest pain, vomiting, and tiredness.
Carbon monoxide gas mixes with the hemoglobin in the blood, preventing the blood from carrying oxygen to the body. Without oxygen, people may suffer brain damage, neurological problems, cardiac arrest, and eventually death.
What Causes Carbon Monoxide Gas Leaks?
Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels do not burn completely or efficiently. Coal fires, burning wood, car engines, gas generators, or burning oils can all cause a buildup of carbon monoxide gas, especially if used in a poorly ventilated area.
While many advances have been made to bring down the number of deaths, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recorded 834 fatal carbon monoxide poisonings in the U.S. between 2008 and 2018, many of them caused by:
- Generators. The vast majority of deaths were caused by generators and occurred during power outages or power shut-offs due to weather-related incidents.
- Small spaces. Many fatalities occurred in houses less than 1,500 square feet in size, with the carbon monoxide-producing device placed inside the living area of the home.
- Overnight leaks. Undetected leaks are most likely to be fatal if they occur at night, during a victim’s normal sleep time, or when a victim is unconscious.
- Temporary structures. Poisoning was common in temporary shelters such as cabins, campers, RVs, and animal trailers where victims were attempting to provide power to a non-powered structure or vehicle.
- Close proximity to exhaust. In over 60% of recorded fatalities, there was no apparent attempt at proper ventilation of the generator exhaust. When the generator was located outside, it was often placed too close to windows, air conditioners, or vents that allowed the gas to enter an enclosed space.
Who Can Be Liable for Wrongful Death From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
In order to win financial compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove that someone’s action or inaction directly led to the fatal injury. You may need our help to demonstrate a duty of care and show that the carbon monoxide exposure could have been avoided. Your loved one’s death may have been caused by:
- Landlord negligence. You might have a premises liability case if your relative’s landlord failed to ensure that the heating, cooking, and ventilation systems were in good working order before renting out the property. Landlords and property management companies may be held liable, and the developer may be at fault, if the building’s poor design made injury more likely.
- Home defects. Homeowners may have claims against the person who designed or constructed the house, the company that performed a remodel, a furnace installation company, a roofer who blocked the flue or chimneys, or the home inspectors who failed to notice potential hazards.
- Faulty appliances. The manufacturer of carbon monoxide-generating consumer products has a duty to ensure that the appliance is well-designed and properly ventilated. They must also include clear directions on how the product should be used to avoid injury.
- Faulty carbon monoxide alarms. Carbon monoxide detectors are becoming more and more common in everyday homes, but they can’t provide protection if they don’t work properly.
- Defective vehicles. Auto manufacturers, assembly plants, and mechanics might all be held responsible if the poisoning was caused by a leak or blockage in a vehicle’s exhaust pipe.
While no amount of money can bring your loved one back, the legal team at GriffithLaw will do everything possible to demand accountability and secure a settlement that allows you to move on. Contact us today through our online form or give us a call at (615) 807-7900 to have us explain your next steps at no cost to you.