Hotel Liability for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is a very serious public health concern, with between 400 and 500 people dying annually from unintentional carbon monoxide exposure, and another 40,000 receiving serious injuries from carbon monoxide exposure. Because so many families have suffered as a result of high levels of carbon monoxide in homes and buildings, many state legislatures have begun to adopt laws governing carbon monoxide detectors. As of March 2016, 30 states had enacted carbon monoxide statutes, with the remaining states expected to follow.
Hotel Exposures to Carbon Monoxide
In 2009, in a hotel in Wheeling, West Virginia, a number of guests suffered carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of room renovations in one part of the hotel where workers were using outdoor space heaters to stay warm. The space heaters generated carbon monoxide which penetrated the guest rooms near the renovations.
In 2014, an episode of 20/20 highlighted a mother whose eleven-year-old son died at the Boone Hotel as a result of carbon monoxide exposure. The death was a result of an indoor pool heater which was leaking carbon monoxide into the second-floor suite. Just two months earlier, a Washington State couple staying in the same room died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Despite the fact that a seemingly healthy couple was found dead, with no obvious signs of trauma, the hotel owners and local authorities failed to test the room for carbon monoxide.
A group of girls stayed in the room above, and many of them became ill. Their sponsor left a message with the front desk that they should check for carbon monoxide. The hotel manager was indicted on three counts of involuntary manslaughter, although he claimed he never received the message regarding potential carbon monoxide exposure in the room.
Exposure to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
You could be exposed to carbon monoxide anywhere a combustion engine is found which uses charcoal, kerosene, wood, oil or gas as fuel. All of these can produce carbon monoxide when burned in areas with insufficient ventilation, or when there is a leak in the system. Combustion engines are typically used in charcoal grills, room heaters, generators, vehicles, hot water heaters, furnaces, boats, boilers, wood-burning stoves, cooking ranges and fireplaces. Because these devices are so common, you could be exposed to carbon monoxide in your home, at your workplace, or in a hotel or motel.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Doctors often have trouble diagnosing carbon monoxide poisoning, often known as the silent killer. Perhaps there is evidence of brain damage in a patient who has not been in a car accident, fallen and hit his or her head, or experienced any other traumatic event. Since early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic the flu, and other common health issues, and do not always cause a loss of consciousness, the doctor can be unable to determine the cause of the symptoms.
Confusion, extreme sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, tiredness, lack of muscle control, and speech and eyesight problems are the hallmarks of carbon monoxide poisoning. In some patients, permanent neurological side effects are possible, even after the source of carbon monoxide has been removed.
Laws Requiring Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Hotels and Motels
Only twelve states currently require the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in hotels and motels. New Jersey, Vermont and Wisconsin have complementary administrative regulations regarding carbon monoxide detectors, while Kansas and Washington state have requirements through administrative regulations alone.
The lack of carbon monoxide regulations for hotels and motels is partially due to 2015 International building and fire codes which eliminated the requirement for a carbon monoxide alarm in every guest room and in all common areas. While the codes are not binding on states and municipalities, most will adopt them—or a modified version of them—within six years of the publication date.
These international codes require hotels to install carbon monoxide alarms near a furnace, water heater or other fuel-burning device which could malfunction and emit carbon monoxide fumes. Unfortunately, there are many instances in which a malfunctioning device in a motel or hotel resulted in carbon monoxide exposure to those staying in a hotel or motel.
Why You Need an Experienced Washington D.C. Carbon Monoxide Attorney
If you have suffered serious injury as a result of exposure to carbon monoxide, and that exposure was the result of negligence on the part of an owner or manager of the hotel or motel you stayed in, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages. If a loved one died as the result of such negligence, your attorney can file a wrongful death claim on your behalf, seeking compensation for funeral expenses, lost income and loss of companionship.
Your attorney will thoroughly evaluate the circumstances surrounding your exposure to carbon monoxide in a hotel or motel, and will determine whether an individual or entity is responsible. He or she will obtain expert opinions when necessary, review your medical records to establish an injury from carbon monoxide, and ensure you and your family are aware of all your legal options.
Contact Washington DC Carbon Monoxide Injury Lawyers
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our injury lawyers have extensive experience representing injured victims & patients in Washington, DC metro area, Virginia, and throughout the State of Maryland. Call us at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6645 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.
The injury attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates have successfully represented injured individuals in Washington, DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Annapolis, Rockville, Baltimore, Richmond, Fairfax, Maryland, and throughout Virginia.