At the Philadelphia premises liability law firm of the Reiff Law Firm, we have investigated many tragic situations involving propane and gas tank explosions as well as carbon monoxide poisoning in New Jersey. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental death poisoning in the United States and this odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas is a silent killer. If you or a loved one has been exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning, many times you will experience headaches, flu-like body aches, fatigue, vertigo, and vomiting.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas produced by burning fuel in cars, trucks, fireplaces, small engines, furnaces, lanterns, portable generators, and other devices. When this gas leaks out and accumulates in an enclosed space, anyone who breathes it in is liable to be poisoned. Just because a space is ventilated does not make it safe. While many people are poisoned accidentally or through their own error, others suffer carbon monoxide poisoning due to the negligence of another person, company, or manufacturer. Our team of New Jersey carbon monoxide poisoning attorneys is dedicated to holding these parties accountable for their conduct.
Carbon monoxide poisoning could strike an unexpected person without warning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that over 400 people are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning every year. An additional 20,000 require emergency room care. If you or a loved one was exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, contact the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that is toxic to the central nervous system and the heart. When inhaled, carbon monoxide compromises the ability of red blood cells to deliver oxygen to vital organs. Accordingly, carbon monoxide poisoning victims may exhibit vision problems, angina, respiratory failure, nausea, fatigue and low blood pressure. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms can easily be mistaken for those of other common illnesses. Installing a carbon monoxide sensor can alert you of this otherwise undetectable danger.
Sources of Carbon Monoxide
Gas and wood-burning appliances generate carbon monoxide as a byproduct. If available ventilation does not disperse carbon monoxide, the concentration of gas can pose a life-threatening danger. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur at home or at work. At home, stoves, furnaces, gas lanterns, barbecues, lawnmowers, and vehicles can leave elevated levels of carbon monoxide. In the work environment, carbon monoxide commonly threatens firefighters, welders, mechanics, and parking attendants.
In one of the cases that the Reiff Law Firm gas explosion lawyers was consulted on, a number of individuals were visiting a South Jersey motel when they claimed they were feeling tired, dizzy, and suffered severe muscle cramping and pain. Medical examinations revealed that they were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty heating system and lack of proper ventilation. Elderly people, infants, and children are more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning than others. People who suffer asthma, emphysema, respiratory ailments, and anemia are more prone to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Over the years, our skilled injury lawyers have handled many cases involving the failure of carbon monoxide monitors and the death and illness of unsuspecting and innocent victims. It is extremely important to have a reliable carbon monoxide detector in your home and to make sure that it is installed in a proper area according to manufacturer’s specifications. A carbon monoxide detector put away in a closet will do no good.
Legal Theories of Liability in New Jersey Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Cases
Many personal injury cases are based on negligence. However, this is not always the case. Carbon monoxide poisoning cases are complicated and often require a more nuanced approach. Our New Jersey personal injury attorneys will usually apply one of three legal theories when evaluating a carbon monoxide poisoning lawsuit
Negligence Per Se
New Jersey recognizes the legal principle known as “negligence per se.” Under this legal theory, a party could be held liable if they violate a law or statute and that violation results in an accident or injury. For example, a property manager could be held legally and financially responsible if they failed to comply with a law that required the installation and maintenance of a carbon monoxide detector. However, the violation itself is not sufficient to hold the defendant liable. The violation must also be the legal cause of the injury.
Most personal injury lawsuits are based on the legal principle of negligence. Negligence is legally defined as someone doing something that a reasonable or prudent person would not do. For example, a contractor could be found to be negligent if a heating unit was improperly repaired, resulting in a carbon monoxide leak. Unlike a negligence per se case, in an ordinary negligence claim, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed them a duty of care and their injury was caused by a violation of that duty.
In some cases, someone suffers carbon monoxide poisoning because of a defective product. For instance, carbon monoxide could leak into a room due to a defective boiler. If the boiler had a design flaw or manufacturing defect that cause the leak, the manufacturer could be held liable under a product liability claim. In New Jersey, this liability could extend to a distributor or retailer.
Holding a Landlord Liable for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in New Jersey
When someone owns a home, they will likely take precautions to protect themselves and their family, including installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. However, when someone is renting an apartment, they often rely on the landlord or building management to ensure the property is safe.
New Jersey landlords should be proactive in protecting their tenants from carbon monoxide poisoning by installing detectors in their buildings. Under New Jersey law, all single and two-family homes require carbon monoxide detectors at the time of sale or transfer. Additionally, all new and existing commercial buildings must have working CO detectors installed. Residential rental properties must have a Certificate of Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm Compliance prior to initial occupancy. There is an exception for buildings without an attached garage or any fuel-burning appliances, such as heaters, fireplaces, or stoves.
In many cases, it is difficult to hold a landlord liable if a tenant is injured in their apartment or rental home. However, if the injury resulted from negligence on the part of the landlord, then the landlord could be held accountable. For example, if a landlord did not repair a heater that was leaking carbon monoxide or failed to install CO detectors, they could be held liable if a tenant is poisoned by carbon monoxide.
Proving Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in New Jersey
A carbon monoxide poisoning case is often complicated and challenging. When a civil lawsuit includes different negligence theories used against different parties, the level of complexity increases. A carbon monoxide poisoning case is likely to involve several potentially liable parties, such as a business, a property manager, a construction company, an architectural firm, or a manufacturer. You need an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer that has handled intricate legislation.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, a carbon monoxide poisoning lawsuit could involve a premises liability claim, a products liability claim, or a negligence claim. For instance, a hotel could be held liable for hiring an inexperienced maintenance company to inspect its heating and ventilation systems. If the maintenance company fails to detect a defect in a ventilation system, the manufacturer of the equipment and the maintenance company could also be held responsible for any damages.
Our office will have to find evidence to support your claim of carbon monoxide poisoning. Your medical records and a statement from your doctor will be a crucial part of the evidence presented. We will also examine the maintenance records of the property, test the carbon monoxide detector, and turn to expert engineers if necessary. The type of evidence required will depend on the legal theories presented in your case.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors in New Jersey
New Jersey requires CO detectors in single- and two-family homes when they are sold, new residential construction, and all new and existing commercial properties.
There are thousands of fatalities every year in America from carbon monoxide poisoning and even a small amount of carbon monoxide in a living area can cause major health issues. It is important to recognize that carbon monoxide detectors often have a limited life span and should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
If you believe that someone sustained carbon monoxide poisoning and a carbon monoxide alarm/detector was not operating properly, you should seek the services of an experienced carbon monoxide poisoning attorney specializing in defective products for a full and immediate investigation or your claim.
Contact Our New Jersey Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Attorneys for a Free Consultation
The dedicated injury lawyers of the Reiff Law Firm have represented wrongful death victims since 1979 and have been awarded over hundreds of millions of dollars. If you were suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning, you might be able to recover compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact our New Jersey carbon monoxide poisoning attorneys at (215) 709-6940.