Carbon monoxide or CO is called the “silent killer” because it is a colorless and odorless gas that can kill people while they sleep. Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels including gas, oil, kerosene or charcoal are burned. When fuel-burning appliances are maintained and used correctly, carbon monoxide poisoning is not a threat. However, if appliances are not maintained well or are used improperly, dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide can result.
According to Cal Fire approximately 500 people in California lose their lives each year from CO poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used appliances which burn fuel. An even higher number of people die from carbon monoxide produced by idling vehicles. Those at highest risk for CO poisoning are infants, elderly individuals and people suffering from anemia, heart disease and respiratory disease.
Symptoms of CO Poisoning
When a person is exposed to moderate levels of CO, they can suffer from severe headaches, dizziness, mental confusion and nausea. Exposure to moderate levels of this toxic gas also can kill if the levels are maintained for an extended period of time. Low level exposure can cause breathing difficulties, feelings of nauseousness, headaches and may have long term effects on one’s health.
Seeing that most of these symptoms are very much like the symptoms associated with influenza and other common ailments and illnesses, many people being exposed to CO do not even realize it.
How Carbon Monoxide Harms and Kills Victims
The destructive nature of carbon monoxide gas prevents oxygen from being delivered to the brain cells and other vital organs of the body. If cells do not receive an adequate amount of oxygen that is delivered by hemoglobin (a component of red blood cells), the cells will die. Carbon monoxide molecules are 200 times more likely to bind to hemoglobin than are oxygen molecules. When someone breathes in carbon monoxide, the gas enters the bloodstream and binds to hemoglobin, crowding out the oxygen molecules. This deprives cells of the oxygen they need in order to stay alive.
The possible sources of carbon monoxide include:
- Conventional & alternate heating systems
- Water heaters
- Chimneys (clogged)
- Electric generators
- Running vehicles
- Charcoal or gas grills
- Indoor pool heaters
Some of the specific causes of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Improperly installed boilers and furnaces
- Defective water heaters, stoves or other appliances using gas
- Defective propane heaters
- Gas leaks due to construction
- Poorly maintained heaters by landlords
Legal Rights of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Victims
Claims by individuals injured due to carbon monoxide poisoning include claims for negligence, liability for failure to warn and defective product liability. Damages sought in these cases include general and compensatory damages for:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain & suffering
- Past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity and,
- In cases of wrongful death, punitive damages
Some of the parties that may be held liable for a victim’s carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Property and building owners
- Manufacturers of defective appliances
- Technicians responsible for checking and maintaining appliances
- Any person who may have misused an appliance
If you or someone you love has been injured by carbon monoxide poisoning, you should seek the assistance of our Bay Area personal injury attorneys as we have experience in handling cases involving CO poisoning. Providing that it can be proven that your injury (or the death of your loved one) was caused by carbon monoxide and the person/entity that allowed you to come into contact with the dangerous gas was negligent, then your claim for compensation should be valid.
Hogan Injury operates on a guaranteed no-fee policy which means you do not pay us unless we win or settle your case. We are available 24/7 to speak with you about your case so contact us at your earliest convenience via our website or by calling 866-205-4971.