Do you rent? Have you recently been hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning? Poisoned tenants could file a claim against their landlords depending on the situation. Even if you own your home, steps must be taken to ensure protection against carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year, more than 5,000 Americans die due to carbon monoxide, and twice that number are hospitalized. Deaths frequently occur because of product defects in household appliances, conflated with a faulty detector.
Carbon monoxide leaks into the home when appliances like boilers, furnaces, fires, or water heaters function improperly. This occurs when the product is defective or was installed incorrectly. Carbon monoxide causes a host of symptoms, including:
Massachusetts passed Nicole’s Law in 2005. It states that all homes with any fossil-fuel-based appliances must also have a CO detector installed. Because carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, it is impossible to notice without a detector. Carbon monoxide poisoning’s first symptoms are similar to the common cold, so many people think they are simply getting sick instead of being poisoned by toxic gas.
CO detectors must be installed on each floor. Even unused spaces like attics and basements need detectors. Detectors also need to be installed within ten feet of every inhabited bedroom, and they must be regularly inspected. Detectors and alarms are ineffective when the batteries and backups fail, the voltage is low, or the system is wireless and gets disconnected.
Landlords are typically only responsible for exterior areas and common areas. However, the landlord may also be bound by repair clauses in the lease. This means that parts of the home controlled by the landlord like the furnace, pipes, water heater, or more than leak carbon monoxide are his or her responsibility.
Your case gets easier if the landlord had promised to fix a broken device on the property, but either stalled or failed to fix the problem correctly. Some local laws and lease agreements may require landlords to survey and fix equipment and appliances that put tenants at risk for CO poisoning. In all of these cases, you will file the claim against the landlord.
Landlords are not held liable if they did not know about the issue, or if the tenant failed to inform them about a problem. For instance, if the tenant tries to relight a furnace or fix an appliance themselves and further damages it, the tenant is held responsible and will likely be unable to file a claim against anybody. If the issue is due to a product defect and the landlord did not know about the problem, the claim may be levied against the manufacturer.
You may have a legitimate claim based on how the CO poisoning occurred. For instance:
Call Sweeney Merrigan Law at (617)-391-9001 for help if you or a loved one has come down with carbon monoxide poisoning. We have helped many families file personal injury claims for CO poisoning, and we know the nuances involved with Massachusetts law. Contact our Boston attorneys to help you determine where the fault lies and if you have a claim.