Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can cause death in a short period of time. Carbon monoxide poisonings result in hundreds of deaths and thousands of emergency room visits each year.
In recent years, states like PA and NJ, have passed laws requiring installation of carbon monoxide detectors in specific residential structures, including hotels. Click below for a list of statutes in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey relating to carbon monoxide detector laws (current as of May 2017).
Legal Rights to Compensation After a Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Pennsylvania or New Jersey
Individuals who experience carbon monoxide poisoning and sustain a serious injury should contact an injury law firm that handles carbon monoxide lawsuits. Oftentimes, building owners or business owners may be held liable under negligence laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Negligence Per Se
Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey recognize negligence per se, a legal principle which finds a party liable when the party violates a statute or law and as a direct result, an accident or injury occurs. This means that a building owner (i.e., landlord) or a business owner (i.e., hotel operator) can be held liable for failure to comply with state law or local ordinances that require installation/maintenance of carbon monoxide alarms. However, the violation must be the legal cause of the accident. For example, a landlord in Pennsylvania fails to install carbon monoxide detectors in a multi-family dwelling, as required under the Pennsylvania Carbon Monoxide Alarm Standards Law. As a result, a tenant dies due to carbon monoxide exposure that wasn’t detected because no alarms had been installed. The landlord could be held liable under a theory of negligence per se.
Ordinary Negligence Claims
Negligence is defined as the failure to do something one should do, or doing something one should not do. These principles can be applied to any individual or party in a carbon monoxide poisoning case. For example, a pool equipment company may be held liable for negligence in servicing a pool pump generator, which leaks carbon monoxide into an adjacent room.
Businesses which perform maintenance on furnaces or other fossil fuel burning equipment like boilers, generators, etc., can be held liable for negligence. In a March 2017 case in Somerset County, New Jersey, an auto repair shop was held liable for negligently installing a generator on a small business van, which resulted in a carbon monoxide poisoning. A jury found in favor of the small business owner and returned a verdict of over $2 million.
Product Liability Claims
In some cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, there may be a product liability or product injury claim against a manufacturer or seller. For example, a defective boiler may be responsible for a carbon monoxide leak, which results in a carbon monoxide poisoning brain injury. Under the laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the manufacturer of the boiler may be liable, in addition to the retailer and/or distributor. Learn more about product liability lawsuits.
When serious injuries such as brain injuries occur, an injured individual may receive financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages and any out of pocket expenses. In many cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, claims may also be made for future financial losses. For example, in a permanent brain injury case, the injured person may be able to obtain compensation for future medical treatment costs including cognitive therapy or neuropsychological treatment.
In cases when the individual is unable to resume working or has to adjust their work hours or duties, claims may be made for future wage loss.
Claims may also be made for pain and suffering, the physical suffering and emotional pain caused by the injury. When long-term brain injuries occur, the pain and suffering is tremendous. We often see lives turned upside down due to brain injuries after carbon monoxide exposure. In the worst cases, self-sufficient individuals may become completely dependent on others.
Wrongful Death Actions
When carbon monoxide exposure results in death, surviving family members may be able to file wrongful death actions against responsible parties. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, wrongful death action laws specify the parties who may make claims, the type of claims allowed, etc.
In general spouses, children, and immediate family members may file wrongful death actions. Claims may be made for funeral expenses, medical bills, and other financial losses which result from the death, such as loss of financial support from the decedent’s wages/salary.
Survival actions, which are different that wrongful death actions, are based on the legal claims of the decedent which pass to the survivors. In a fatal carbon monoxide case, the decedent would have his or her own negligence claim. Upon death, the legal claim passes to the decedent’s survivors. Survival actions may be difficult in carbon monoxide poisoning cases. That’s because these types of cases require that the individual survived and suffered for some period of time after the exposure, but before death. In most carbon monoxide cases, death occurs in a matter of minutes. So, it may be difficult to prove that the individual survived after the exposure.
PA & NJ Injury Lawyers for Carbon Monoxide Injury Cases
Our law firm handles carbon monoxide injury cases throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, contact us for more info. 215.399.9255 or 609.223.8900.
**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.