Often called the ‘silent killer’, carbon monoxide poisoning wreaks untold havoc on the health of so many people every year. So, if you’ve suffered the trauma of carbon monoxide poisoning due to someone else’s negligence, you could be eligible to make a personal injury claim.
Many people, when considering the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, make the mistake of thinking of it in terms of leakages involving gas or other forms of fuel. Whilst leaks of this kind can be dangerous and even fatal, however, one facet which they don’t share with carbon monoxide is the odourless nature of the harmful gas itself.
Whilst a leaking gas pipe will at least make itself apparent through the smell of gas, allowing people in the vicinity to open doors and windows, evacuate the building and contact the relevant emergency services, carbon monoxide doesn’t have a smell, colour or taste. And even a small leak occurring over a period of time can have a devastating effect on the health of people breathing it in.
>Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when you are exposed to a large volume of carbon monoxide. When you inhale this toxic gas, it goes straight into your bloodstream where it combines with your haemoglobin, to form carboxyhemoglobin. When this is formed, the blood cells can no longer carry oxygen around your body, and the cells and surrounding tissue begin to shut down and die.
If you’ve experienced carbon monoxide poisoning, and you think it may have been caused by someone else’s negligence, then you can get in touch with a legal advisor on 0800 234 6438 for free advice, or fill in the form on this page and they’ll call you back.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas which is produced by petrol engines or when solid fuels such as wood, charcoal, gas and coal are burned. Many household heating and cooking appliances, as well as machinery in a factory or workshop, make use of fuels of this kind, including:
Most cases of carbon monoxide poisoning occur when an appliance of the type listed above has been poorly maintained, is damaged or was installed incorrectly. There is also a risk posed by the kind of portable devices sometimes used in boats, caravans and mobile homes.
Other problems which might cause carbon monoxide to build up to dangerous levels within an environment include a blocked flue or chimney, the build-up of certain kind of paint fumes and burning fuel in an enclosed place, such as making use of a portable barbecue stove within the confines of a tent. If the exhaust of a car has become blocked or been damaged, then carbon monoxide might leak back into the interior of the car itself.
Although the most extreme cases of carbon monoxide poisoning generally involve people being killed by a dangerous build up, or suffering severe reactions to the presence of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, there is also a risk that long term low level exposure to the gas could have a damaging effect upon the health of those exposed, particularly people under the age of 14 or older than 65.
The effects of low level carbon monoxide poisoning can seem similar to the symptoms of flu or food poisoning, although without the presence of a high temperature.
Common carbon monoxide symptoms include:
Though these symptoms may lessen when you move away from the source of the carbon monoxide, the long term effects of low level exposure can be serious, with the effects upon the brain including problems with memory, language, mood and behaviour.
If your body is exposed to higher levels of carbon monoxide then the immediate effects will be much more severe.
As mentioned above, carbon monoxide attacks by attaching itself to the haemoglobin in the red blood cells in the body, greatly impairing the ability of the cells to carry oxygen. It is this lack of oxygen, particularly to the heart and brain, which is so dangerous.
During exposure to higher levels of carbon monoxide, you may experience the following serious symptoms:
If you’ve suffered carbon monoxide exposure, and you think it may have been someone else’s fault, then you can get in touch with a legal advisor on 0800 234 6438 for free advice, or fill in the form on this page and they’ll call you back.
>If you’ve made the mistake of lighting a gas heater inside an unventilated garage, or fitting a heating appliance without having it checked by a registered expert, then the responsibility rests squarely on your shoulders if you, or people sharing the space in question, are affected by severe carbon monoxide poisoning.
In many cases, however, the responsibility for the safety of an environment will rest with a third party.
Of course, companies and workplaces already have a legal obligation to provide safe working environments for their employees, and anybody who suffers injuries as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning at work will be entitled to the same legal rights as anyone else injured at work, including making a claim for carbon monoxide compensation if applicable.
Now, the law has been changed in England to protect tenants as well.
If you live in rented accommodation, for example, then the landlord has a legal duty not only to make sure that the accommodation is safe but also to fit carbon monoxide detectors which will alert you if the highly dangerous gas builds up in the atmosphere. This duty came about as a result of legislation which came into force on 1st October 2015, and also covers the fitting of smoke alarms.
Over and above the specific issue of installing a carbon monoxide alarm, any landlord has a legal duty to ensure that their tenants are safe, and this includes ensuring that any gas equipment is installed by a Gas Safe Register engineer, having a registered engineer carry out a gas safety check on appliances and flues in their property every year and providing tenants with a copy of the gas safety report.
For a list of gas engineers who are qualified to fit appliances and carry out checks, see http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
If your landlord has failed in their duty of care to you, and this has resulted in you or others in your household suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, then you may well be in a position to make a carbon monoxide compensation claim.
Other scenarios under which negligence may have taken place include a workplace, such as a garage, which is insufficiently well ventilated, or an appliance which has problems which should have been spotted by the supplier or manufacturer.
No matter what the details of the case, the basic principle is simple – if you’ve suffered physical injuries and/or mental distress because another party behaved in a negligent manner, then you deserve to claim the compensation which will allow you to get on with the rest of your life.
If you’ve experienced even mild carbon monoxide poisoning, and you think it may have been someone else’s fault, then you can get in touch with a legal advisor on 0800 234 6438 for free advice, or fill in the form on this page and they’ll call you back.
If you feel you may have a carbon monoxide poisoning claim, then the first step to take is to seek urgent medical attention. Not only will this help to prevent further damage to your health, but it will also be the first part of building a case for compensation. This will involve gaining confirmation that you have, indeed, been affected by carbon monoxide poisoning.
The other strand of any successful claim involves demonstrating that someone else was to blame. The more evidence you can gather with regard to the appliance which you feel caused the carbon monoxide poisoning, the better; whether it’s in your home, workplace, holiday accommodation or other space.
Useful evidence will include photographs of the appliance, particularly if any soot marks are present, records of any repairs carried out, and details of the people responsible for servicing the appliance, and when the servicing was carried out.
An expert personal injury solicitor will use all of the information you provide to build the strongest possible case, including details of when and for how long you feel you’ve been affected by carbon monoxide leaks, and any medical records relating to this.
To find out more about how to claim carbon monoxide compensation, get in touch with a legal advisor on 0800 234 6438 for free advice, or fill in the form on this page and they’ll call you back.
>Any money awarded will be based on two factors; the severity of your injury, and the extent of any financial loss it has caused, both now and in the future.
Under the latest personal injury compensation legislation, you will be entitled to keep at least 75% of any compensation awarded, whilst also being protected from the risk of financial loss if your case proves to be unsuccessful, as most personal injury claims are taken on a no win, no fee basis.
However, generally, the compensation for carbon monoxide poisoning will include general damages and special damages.
Like most personal injury claims, there is a time limit for making carbon monoxide poisoning compensation claims, and that is typically three years from the date you were poisoned.
However, if you suffer carbon monoxide poisoning, the symptoms of carbon monoxide don’t always show up straight away, and so determining the exact date of the incident can be problematic. Which is why you have three years from when you first became aware of the problem to submit a claim. In most cases, this will be the date of your diagnosis.
Claiming compensation for carbon monoxide poisoning compensation is much easier than it sounds. Simply get in touch with a trained legal advisor today on 0800 234 6438 for free legal advice about the carbon monoxide claims process.
If they believe you have a case, they will put you in touch with personal injury experts who will take on your case on a no win no fee basis. Meaning if you aren’t successful in your claim, you won’t have to pay a penny toward your legal fees. There is no financial risk for you here, but you have a lot to potentially gain.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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