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Can renters sue for carbon monoxide poisoning?

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2023 | Personal Injury

CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning is a severe and potentially life-threatening issue that can occur in rental units if the property’s carbon monoxide detector is defective. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas resulting from the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels such as propane, natural gas and wood.

When inhaled, CO binds to the blood’s hemoglobin, lowering the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. This can cause devastating health issues or even death.

The importance of carbon monoxide detectors

The law requires rental properties to install carbon monoxide detectors to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. These detectors are designed to alert occupants if CO levels in the air become dangerous. They are crucial in providing early warning and potentially saving lives. Landlords are legally obligated to oversee the safety of their rental units. This includes maintaining and regularly testing carbon monoxide detectors. Failure to do so can result in serious consequences, not only for the tenants but also for the landlord.

Tenant’s rights and legal recourse

Can tenants sue for carbon monoxide poisoning if their rental unit’s carbon monoxide detector doesn’t perform properly due to inadequate maintenance? The answer is a resounding yes, provided certain conditions are met. Landlords owe a duty of care to their tenants. This duty includes ensuring that the rental unit is safe for habitation. The landlord may be held liable if an ill-maintained carbon monoxide detector results in a tenant’s injury or death.

To succeed in a lawsuit, tenants may need to prove that the landlord was negligent in maintaining or providing a functioning carbon monoxide detector. This typically involves demonstrating that the landlord knew or should have known about the detector’s inadequate performance but failed to take appropriate action. Alternatively, victims may be able to pursue damages under a strict liability theory when suing the manufacturer of a defective detector.

Causation and damages

Tenants must establish a direct link between the performance of the carbon monoxide detector and their injuries. This can be achieved by presenting medical evidence and testimony to show that the poisoning resulted from the malfunctioning device. In most legal actions, it has to be proven that the injured party suffered damages due to the defendant’s negligence. In carbon monoxide poisoning cases, damages can include pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, etc.

Tenants generally have the legal right to sue for carbon monoxide poisoning if their rental unit’s carbon monoxide detector doesn’t function properly, provided that causation and damages can be proven. If you find yourself in such a situation, seek immediate action to help protect your health and well-being and seek legal advice to better understand your rights and options.