Invisible, odorless and deadly, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning causes thousands of accidental deaths and serious injuries in the United States each year. Exposure to CO has been estimated to account for up to 40,000 emergency room visits each year. Just about everyone faces at least some risk of carbon monoxide exposure on a daily basis, through residential heating and cooking appliances, internal combustion engines of all kinds, and many different industrial processes. Cigarette smoking also generates carbon monoxide in both inhaled and secondhand smoke.
Carbon monoxide is an asphyxiant that interferes with the delivery of blood oxygen to cell tissues. Even at sublethal exposure levels, the resulting injuries can be very serious and disabling, including permanent damage to the heart or lungs, or irreversible impairment of brain function. The first signs of carbon monoxide poisoning usually appear when someone experiences a combination of the following symptoms: headaches, dizziness or disorientation, nausea, respiratory problems or unconsciousness. Untreated exposure to high CO concentrations will often result in death.
Consider Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Medical Emergencies
Fortunately, the levels of CO exposure we face in daily life are typically low and easily dissipated through proper ventilation. On the other hand, it is very difficult to tell when carbon monoxide has built up to dangerous levels without proper monitoring and warning devices. Because the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning resemble those of other illnesses from flu to heart attack, you should seek emergency medical care and let the treatment team know of any suspected CO exposure risks.
Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning can occur through improper maintenance of home appliances, cars and trucks, or industrial equipment. While you can take steps to protect yourself from the buildup of CO, sometimes you’re depending on others to minimize the risks: landlords, home construction contractors, repair and installation professionals, employers, auto maintenance shops and others. Negligence in preventing or warning about carbon monoxide risks could result in liability for any resulting injuries or fatalities.
The California Legislature recently passed a law requiring residential landlords to have carbon monoxide monitoring and warning devices in each rental unit by the end of 2013. Single-family residences have been required to have CO sensors in place since July 2011.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer for Advice: Call 866-288-6010
The attorneys of Weber & Nierenberg have decades of experience with the investigation and proof of claims in accidental injury and fatality cases of all kinds, including claims related to carbon monoxide poisoning. In one case, we recovered $700,000 for a 69-year-old man whose brain injury was traced to CO exposure caused by negligent installation of a home heating exhaust flue.
With offices in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and San Rafael, our law firm is convenient for clients throughout the Bay Area. Contact us to schedule a free consultation about your case, or visit our website at www.weberandnierenberg.com.