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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Lawsuits in California

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced by burning kerosene, gasoline, natural gas, propane, wood, and paper, among other fuels.  Because it cannot be detected by sight or smell, carbon monoxide poses a uniquely high risk of poisoning people who inhale it, leading those victims to file lawsuits seeking compensation in California and across the country. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that every year hundreds of Americans die from carbon monoxide poisoning, while thousands seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms.

Many common household appliances produce carbon monoxide, including stoves, water heaters, furnaces, and room heaters; fireplaces; portable generators; and charcoal burned in enclosed areas such as inside a garage or basement.   Internal combustion engines produce CO as well; idling automobiles, portable generators, power mowers, gasoline-powered leaf blowers and power washers can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if adequate ventilation is not provided.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms

At low levels of exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms resemble those of the flu.  They include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath

As exposure continues or increases, symptoms become more and more serious:

  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

Because the early symptoms are comparatively mild, carbon monoxide poisoning victims often mistakenly attribute their symptoms to common causes such as stress or over-exertion.  As a result, victims frequently continue to inhale the poison, exacerbating their condition and sometimes, tragically, leading to their death.

Carbon monoxide poisoning lawsuits

California carbon monoxide poisoning lawsuits may be filed against a number of defendants, depending on the circumstances.  As experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyers, Ellis Law attorneys are well-equipped to help victims determine who is responsible for their injuries and help them obtain compensation from all those at fault.  Specifically:

  • Sometimes faulty appliance repair can cause carbon monoxide leaks in the home; in these cases, victims may sue the repair company.
  • Under other circumstances, landlords may entirely ignore their obligation to maintain furnaces, hot water heaters, chimneys and other potential sources of carbon monoxide poisoning.  If a landlord does not keep such equipment in safe and working order, he or she may be liable for a tenant’s injuries.
  • Household appliances may be designed or manufactured defectively, making the manufacturer potentially responsible in a carbon monoxide poisoning lawsuit.

California carbon monoxide detector law

In 2010, the California legislature passed the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, requiring carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in all single-family dwellings, duplexes, lodging houses, dormitories, hotels, motels, condominiums, time-share projects, and dwelling units in a multiple-unit building. The law also required the state fire marshal to develop a list of approved carbon monoxide devices, and prohibited the marketing, distribution or sale of devices not on the approved list.

A person poisoned by carbon monoxide in a building that unlawfully failed to contain approved CO detectors may seek damages from the owner or manager of the building.

Types of compensation

Victims of carbon monoxide poisoning in California may recover compensation for their pain and suffering, medical treatment, lost wages, and possibly future medical treatment necessitated by the poisoning event.  If a close relative dies due to carbon monoxide poisoning, family members may recover damages for the pain and suffering and medical expenses incurred by the victim before death, as well as damages for emotional distress and the loss of the victim’s future earnings.

Free consultation with Los Angeles carbon monoxide lawyers

The Ellis Law Firm can offer expert advice to victims of carbon monoxide poisoning in Los Angeles and LA County.  Please contact us for a free consultation regarding your legal options by calling 1-800-INJURED.