According to the American Medical Association, as stated in the California Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. You should know about the risks associated with carbon monoxide and your legal options. If you or your loved one have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, you should also immediately contact a San Francisco carbon monoxide poisoning lawyer. 

What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide, aka “the silent killer,” is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. Carbon monoxide is found in fumes produced when burning fuel, such as that used in furnaces, gas ovens, car engines, gas generators, and fireplaces. 

Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when the gas builds up in an enclosed space—like your home or garage—and people breathe it in. Everyone is susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, however, it can be more severe in people with heart disease or breathing problems, the elderly, and infants. Carbon monoxide poisoning can feel like the sudden onset of the flu, with the following symptoms:

  • Headache,
  • Dizziness,
  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Chest pain,
  • Fatigue,
  • Confusion, and
  • Weakness. 

People can pass out or die from carbon monoxide poisoning before they even realize what’s happening to them, and it can kill people in their sleep. Even people who are lucky enough to recover from it may experience brain injury because of oxygen deprivation. Prolonged exposure to even small amounts can contribute to amnesia, psychosis, and Parkinson’s disease. According to the CDC, every year more than 20,000 Americans visit the emergency room for carbon monoxide-related harm, more than 4,000 are hospitalized, and more than 400 die.

How Can I Protect Myself and My Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Most homeowners and property managers must maintain working carbon monoxide detectors inside residential spaces. It is wise to also install a battery back-up to ensure they are always working. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends the following to decrease the risk of carbon monoxide exposure:

  • Keep gas appliances maintained and adjusted properly,
  • Use an exhaust fan vented to the outdoors over a gas stove,
  • Open flues when using fireplaces,
  • Have a certified professional inspect and tune-up your central heating system every year, and
  • Do not leave your car idling inside your garage.

It is not just your responsibility to safeguard against carbon monoxide poisoning. Other parties such as landlords, property owners, and product manufacturers also owe certain people a duty of care.

What Can I Do If I Suffered Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Because of Someone Else’s Carelessness?

Parties that may be liable for harm include landlords, property managers, product manufacturers and utility companies. The California Health and Safety Code lays out the legal requirements for certain facilities and individuals that owe such a duty of care. The San Francisco Fire Code also explains requirements for carbon monoxide safety. Residential care facilities for elderly adults must have at least one carbon monoxide detector. Property owners and landlords of residential dwellings, hotels, and motels must have the devices in each unit. These detectors must be in good working order and maintained on a yearly basis. California school buildings must also have carbon monoxide detectors. 

Landlords and property managers are also usually responsible for the care and maintenance of the unit’s appliances, including the stoves and heating systems. Failure to do so is negligence. Utility and gas companies that are called upon to inspect these systems must take care to do so according to state and federal regulations. 

Finally, product manufacturers may be liable for faulty devices. These devices could include carbon monoxide detectors, gas stoves, gas connection lines, generators, or any other device meant to detect carbon monoxide or that produces carbon monoxide.

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Do I Need an Attorney?

You should seek legal assistance as soon as possible if you or someone you love was harmed by carbon monoxide because of someone else’s negligence. If you hope to recover the full amount of your damages, it is essential that you hire a San Francisco carbon monoxide poisoning attorney. A carbon monoxide lawyer may be able to recover the following types of compensation for you if you were a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Medical expenses for the harm done and any future treatments you may need, including any associated costs like travel to appointments;
  • Past or future lost wages related to your injuries and recovery;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life; and
  • Possible punitive damages if the guilty party’s actions were especially egregious or reckless.

There is no average settlement amount that carbon monoxide poisoning victims can expect in San Francisco. Settlements depend heavily on the unique circumstances of each case. This is especially true if your case goes to trial, as the jury determines the value of non-monetary damages, e.g., loss of enjoyment of life or pain and suffering. Your carbon monoxide attorney can help you determine an approximate amount of what you should expect to recover.

Why Choose Riley | Ersoff LLP?

Negligence cases are big lawsuits. You might be looking at millions of dollars’ worth of damages. And you’ll be up against insurance companies or businesses that are guaranteed to have their own legal teams. For those reasons it is critical that you have a competent and aggressive firm that will guide you through the legal process and protect your interests from start to finish. The attorneys at Riley | Ersoff LLP are carbon monoxide lawyers ready to help you with your case. Our attorneys know how to get to the heart of your case, determine who was negligent and why, and aggressively pursue the matter to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We have recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients who were harmed by negligent landlords, property owners, caretakers, and the like. Please visit our webpage to view some of our results and testimonials from clients. If you or someone you love suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, please contact us today to discuss your case.