The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are usually as sudden and unexpected as they are devastating. The gas itself is invisible, odorless, and present wherever carbon-based fuels are burned.
Gasoline, kerosene, natural gas, charcoal, and even wood fires all release carbon monoxide (or CO). It gives no warning, and only a small amount is necessary to cause permanent, life-altering damage or death. Wherever there are people performing ordinary activities like cooking, driving, bathing, or keeping warm, a small malfunction or inadequate ventilation can have immediate and tragic results.
A study by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, examining poisoning deaths from 1999-2012, adds that 54% of these incidents occur at home.
What If You Live in an Apartment?
For apartment-dwellers and frequent travelers, the danger is even harder to avoid. Instead of scheduling your own repairs and inspections, you’re dependent on the owner of your apartment building or the hotels you visit to make sure these crucial tasks are done.
It may seem like a small comfort when you’re faced with the catastrophic aftermath of CO poisoning, but you should know that the law is on your side, and so are the passionate professionals at the Stoddard Firm.
Common Causes of Carbon Monoxide Inhalation
Chances are that you have at least a few CO sources in or near your apartment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies some of the most common poisoning culprits as:
- Space heaters
- Gas stoves
- Cars (in attached garages)
During day-to-day life, you probably only think about these items in terms of whether or not they’re working. If the heat, gas, electricity, or hot water suddenly die on you, fixing them might be a matter of a simple phone call. It might also turn into a drawn-out battle, depending on how responsive your landlord is, but at least you know there’s a problem to be fixed.
Don’t Wait to Get Repairs
If any of them begin leaking carbon monoxide, on the other hand, or if their vents become blocked, you may not know there’s an issue until it’s too late. Being forced to improvise your own alternatives due to delayed repairs, such as bringing in outside heating devices, can also put you at increased risk of poisoning.
The only real way to stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning is through regular, preventative maintenance of all fuel-burning appliances, ventilation systems, and carbon monoxide alarms. Unfortunately, this means that whether or not your landlord is on top of things has a huge impact on your safety.
Apartment Complexes and Hotels Have a Duty to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Inhalation
As documented by the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL), 37 states currently require all residential buildings with attached garages or fossil fuel-burning appliances to be equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm in each living space. Carbon monoxide detectors are also required in hotels and motels in 14 states.
If you live in a state where alarms are required, your landlord is legally obligated to provide an approved CO detector, as well as regular inspections to ensure it is functioning properly.
Even if your state does not require property owners to install and maintain CO detectors, your landlord is still responsible for providing habitable conditions to all tenants. This includes not only providing you with essentials like heat, hot water, and cooking facilities, but also ensuring that these systems remain in good, safe, working order. Allowing a CO poisoning to occur is a serious failure in this duty.
Common Injuries Caused by Carbon Monoxide Inhalation
According to Harvard Medical School, the immediate symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Shortness of breath
- Erratic behavior
- Vision problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chest pain
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Part of what makes carbon monoxide poisoning so dangerous is how easily its early symptoms can be mistaken for something innocuous, like the flu. The CDC recognizes those most vulnerable to CO poisoning to be infants, the elderly, and people suffering from anemia, chronic heart disease, or respiratory problems. However, even the healthiest adult can quickly build up a fatal dose in an enclosed space. People who are asleep when a leak starts often die without being awoken by symptoms.
For survivors of acute or even moderate carbon monoxide poisoning, long-term neurological complications are common and include:
- Personality changes
- Intellectual impairment
If exposure occurs during pregnancy, the fetus also has an elevated risk of death or cerebral palsy — a permanent neurological condition that can have a huge impact on quality of life.
What to Do If You’ve Been Exposed to Carbon Monoxide
If you believe that you or your loved ones have been exposed to dangerous carbon monoxide levels, the first step is to reach a well-ventilated area and seek immediate medical attention. It’s important to realize, however, that just because you’ve left the contaminated area doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the woods.
The consequences of a single poisoning incident may be with you for the rest of your life, or the rest of your children’s lives. There may be a need for costly ongoing medical care. Survivors may encounter limited career options, or even a loss of independence.
Nothing can erase the damage that carbon monoxide poisoning can cause, but if you or your loved ones have been exposed due to landlord negligence, you have the right to compensation. More importantly, you deserve support that won’t run out just as you’re beginning to realize the scope of the help you need. Turn to a skilled, compassionate Georgia premises liability attorney for help.
At the Stoddard Firm, we have the knowledge and experience to make sure you and your loved ones are properly looked after. Give us a call at 678-RESULT for a free consultation on your unique situation and what we can do to help.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have a case?
If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you could have a personal injury case. Every situation is different, so there’s no way to know if you have a case without consulting with a qualified personal injury attorney. If you are badly injured or a loved one has died, we are happy to speak with you and investigate the matter at no charge.
How do I pick the right attorney?
You’ll want to look for several qualities when choosing who will represent you. Your attorney should meet with you instead of sending an investigator, and he/she should be available throughout the process instead of having you consistently talk to a legal assistant. Your attorney should have a low number of cases so he/she can devote significant time to you and your case. Your attorney should have experience handling cases with facts similar to yours, and your attorney should have a proven track record with similar claims. Your attorney should also be able to devote significant money to your case so that he/she can hire experts, travel the country finding witnesses, and depose whomever is necessary to achieve justice. It’s also important to make sure your attorney is the right fit on a personal level, which is why you should take advantage of a free consultation.
What do I need to bring with me to the consultation?
For your free consultation, bring all relevant documents that you’ve collected regarding your case. If there are police reports, bills or correspondence from insurance companies, you’ll want to bring those items to the consultation so an attorney can learn as much about your case as possible.
How much time do I have to file a lawsuit?
There is a time limit on how long a person has after an injury to begin a lawsuit. This window is called a statute of limitations. For most personal injury cases in Georgia, the statute of limitations is two years from the time the injury was suffered. However, there are exceptions and subtleties that might change the amount of time you are afforded. Sometimes the period can be as short as 6 months, and other times it can be much longer than two years. Determining the statute of limitations requires a detailed analysis of the facts of your case.
What do your services cost?
A consultation with the Stoddard Law Firm is free. In most circumstances, we earn no fee unless we win your case. If your claim is successful, we take a percentage of the recovered amount.
What has to be proven in a premises liability case?
A successful premises liability claim must show that a hazardous condition exposed you to an unreasonable risk of harm and that the property owner failed to exercise reasonable care to maintain a safe premises. Common examples include slippery floors, unstable structures, broken handrails, stairs not built to code, scalding apartment shower water, natural gas explosions, electrical shocks, and improperly fenced swimming pools. There are several factors that can make or break a case, which is why it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer who can thoroughly investigate the situation.
How is negligent security different from premises liability?
Negligent security is a type of premises liability. These claims arise when a person is assaulted on someone else’s property by a third-party. Owners of apartment complexes, hotels, gas stations, and other retail establishments can sometimes be held liable if their inadequate security practices contributed to the attack. Such practices include failure to warn of prior crimes, inadequate lighting, broken access gates, broken locks, and failure to provide security guards.
How can an attorney help me?
Whether your injury was mild or severe, proving fault for premises liability can be a complex process. The standard of care owed by the property owner is made up of many factors and, in some cases, the hazardous conditions may no longer exist. A skilled premises liability attorney knows how to gather and preserve the necessary evidence – and how to defend you against accusations that you should have known about the dangerous condition.
How do I choose an attorney?
There are a lot of lawyers out there, so it’s important to select one that you feel comfortable with and who inspires confidence. Choose one who has experience with the type of claim you have, is qualified, has a good reputation in the legal community, and seems dedicated to helping you win your case.
How do I pay an attorney?
The Stoddard Firm handles litigation on a contingency basis. This means we accept a percentage of the amount we recover for you. If your claim does not have a successful resolution, we do not collect any fee. We are also pleased to offer free consultations.