Description – Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas. Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete oxidation of carbon in combustion such as in kerosene heaters or gas ranges, which may cause high indoor concentrations of carbon dioxide. The exhaust from automobiles, trucks and trailers also can be significant sources of carbon monoxide.
Risks – When inhaled into the lungs, carbon monoxide causes tissues to become oxygen-deficient by preventing the blood from carrying sufficient oxygen. Infants and the elderly are more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include weakness, nausea, irritability, headache, and possibly vertigo. Chronic episodes of carbon monoxide poisoning may result in such symptoms as headache, dizziness ataxia, anorexia, and lassitude.
As a result, carbon monoxide often results in wrongful death, or at the very least, great injury to those exposed to carbon monoxide.
What Type of Claims Can a Carbon Monoxide Victim Bring?
There are three types of personal injury claims. It will be very rare for a person to intentionally poison another person with carbon monoxide, so intentional claims will be limited.
Strict liability claims, which do not care about intentions or degrees of care, will also be limited because activities involving carbon monoxide, like storage or transportation, are also rare. For companies which do transport or store carbon monoxide though, employees can bring claims if the company needlessly allows employees to be exposed to carbon monoxide.
Companies can minimize employee exposure to carbon monoxide by rotating employees who are required to handle carbon monoxide, requiring employees to wear protective gear, and by using equipment specifically designed to prevent carbon monoxide contact. Gas companies are often on the receiving end of these types of claims.
The most common type of carbon monoxide claim will be negligence. Negligence questions whether the appropriate amount of care was taken given the circumstances surrounding the case. For example, many major cities, like San Francisco, require that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in buildings used for human occupancy. Failure to follow these laws will result in negligence claims against the landlord or homeowner.
What Can Victims Collect?
Due to the dangerous nature of carbon monoxide, victims can demand both compensatory damages and punitive damages. The former are designed to restore the victim to where they were as much as the law allows and as much as money can restore what the victim lost. Funerals costs, medical costs, loss of income, loss of companionship, physical injury, and emotional distress are all included as part of the compensatory damages awarded.
The latter are designed to punish the other party for allowing the carbon monoxide to be released into areas used by humans. Punitive damages are added if the defendant failed to act as a reasonable person would, especially if the defendant failed to follow a law.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you believe that you or your child has become ill because of Carbon Monoxide poisoning you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine who is responsible for your toxic exposure and get proper compensation for your injuries.