The extreme cold conditions of winter pose dangerous risks, not only to stranded travelers and the homeless, but also to California homeowners and those renting apartments. A case where six occupants of an apartment building in another state suffered carbon monoxide poisoning may underscore the importance of landlords ensuring proper maintenance of their buildings. Premises liability claims may follow incidents where tenants suffered personal injury or worse as the result of a landlord’s negligence.
Carbon monoxide is a deadly undetectable gas with no odor and no color. Without CO detectors, the presence of the gas only becomes evident when people start showing symptoms of CO poisoning. It was reported that the landlords of the affected building received a notice in April, 2014, listing 19 safety violations, including the absence of CO detectors in the apartments. Although they failed to respond with a plan of action within the prescribed 30 days, officials apparently neglected to investigate further.
After an incident that could have led to multiple fatalities, firefighters apparently found that the owners failed to rectify the situation by installing CO detectors. The building was recently declared unsafe and shut down. The poisoning of the tenants was suspected to have been the result of an accumulation of carbon monoxide, brought on by the boiler’s exhaust that was blocked by snow. This forced the exhaust fumes into the building, adversely affecting the tenants.
A carbon monoxide buildup can cause a fire, with potentially devastating repercussions. California tenants who have suffered the consequences of apparent negligent building maintenance have the right to pursue a claim for recovery of financial damages incurred. Evidence of negligence by a landlord, along with documented details of losses, will increase the chances of a successful premises liability claim in a civil court. If successful, such a claim may result in a monetary judgment for medical and/or end-of-life expenses as well as other documented losses.
Source: pressherald.com, “Our View: CO poisonings point to need for Gorham to fund safety follow-through efforts“, Feb. 13, 2015