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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

A HIDDEN DANGER

Article by Stephen Becker

Photography by Abi Begum


Whenever people operate vehicles, machines, or appliances that burn fuel in an enclosed space or with improper ventilation, it may create a a hidden danger: carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide (“CO”) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas formed by the incomplete combustion of fuels. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning, while more than 20,000 Americans visit the emergency room, with more than 4,000 hospitalized. 

CO is found in fumes when you burn fuels like charcoal, coal, gasoline, kerosene, natural gas, oil, propane, or wood. Thus, CO is produced when people use cars, trucks, small engines, portable generators, camp stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, space heaters, and furnaces that burn these fuels. CO can build up, and when people or animals breathe it, it displaces the oxygen in their blood, leading to poisoning. The most common symptoms are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.  These symptoms may be subtle and may seem “flu-like.”  And since people cannot detect CO with their senses, victims are often unaware of the cause of their illness. But breathing a lot of CO can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die without realizing they are experiencing symptoms. Exposure can also cause long-term damage to the brain and respiratory system, as well as miscarriage.  If you suspect that you or someone else is suffering from CO poisoning, get to fresh air and seek immediate medical attention.         

Injuries and deaths from CO poisoning may be caused by a defective product that releases dangerous levels of CO. CO poisoning may also result from someone else’s failure to act reasonably or under the circumstances or in disregard of known hazards. For example, a landlord, hotel operator, or other business or premises owner may fail to properly maintain a furnace or the venting ductwork on their property, thereby allowing CO to seep into areas where people live, sleep, or work. They may also fail to install or maintain CO detectors mandated by regulation or that are otherwise reasonably required. Likewise, companies installing, repairing, or maintaining furnaces or working on boats, RVs, and other vehicles may create or fail to detect leaks in exhaust and venting systems.       

In these kinds of circumstances, the law allows victims and their families to seek damages as just compensation and to punish the wrongdoer. Our firm has solid experience representing victims of carbon monoxide poisoning and has obtained substantial recoveries on their behalf. If you or someone you know has suffered a severe injury or death from carbon monoxide poisoning, contact our office for a free consultation and assessment of your case. You can do so by phone, email, by letter, or in person.        

However, there are laws establishing how soon a victim of wrongdoing must file suit in court after suffering harm. Thus, delay can dramatically affect whether a lawsuit can be filed. All discussions with our lawyers and staff remain strictly confidential — even if you do not hire us to handle your case. Call us for a free consultation at (205) 328-5050, or toll free at (888) 906-3955, or contact us on our website.