Hundreds of people die each year in the U.S. because of exposure to carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that is both colorless and odorless, produced when fuels like wood, gasoline, or natural gas are burned. This can occur through home appliances like stoves and water heaters, as well as through the engines of cars and other vehicles.

Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the “silent killer.” Individuals may be exposed without any warning signs. When we breathe it in, it takes the place of oxygen in our blood, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Even when such poisoning isn’t fatal, it can still cause serious injury and illness to sufferers.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is most likely to occur in confined spaces where this potentially lethal gas can build up. For example, many instances of carbon monoxide poisoning occur in recreational vehicles (RVs). An RV’s exhaust system or generators near RVs can quickly make the interior of the vehicle a deadly environment.

When someone suffers harm from carbon monoxide poisoning, can they file a lawsuit against another party? If so, who can be held liable for carbon monoxide poisoning?

Can You Sue Over Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Yes, several successful lawsuits have been filed after victims suffer serious injuries or death because of exposure to carbon monoxide. However, to ensure a lawsuit has the best possible chance of succeeding, it must be established that another party was at fault.


One common basis for these lawsuits is negligence, where the party responsible for causing the carbon monoxide exposure failed to exercise reasonable care. This can include situations where property owners or manufacturers of appliances were aware of potential dangers but neglected to address them or to provide sufficient warnings. For example, if a tenant suffers carbon monoxide poisoning in a rental unit, it could be the fault of the landlord or property manager if they failed to maintain ventilation systems or heating equipment.

Product Liability

Product liability is another legal avenue for filing a carbon monoxide poisoning lawsuit. If a faulty or improperly labeled product, such as an RV, generator, or appliance, causes a consumer harm through carbon monoxide poisoning, the manufacturer or retailer of that product might be liable for the damages the victim suffers. No one should produce or distribute products that are unsafe for use, and consumers harmed by these products may be entitled to damages.

Breach of Warranty

Breach of warranty is a third legal ground for pursuing a lawsuit. This occurs when a product or property owner fails to fulfill the promises or guarantees made regarding the safety of a product or premises. For instance, if a property owner assures tenants that heating systems are regularly inspected and safe, but a carbon monoxide leak occurs due to negligence, it could be considered a breach of warranty.

Compensation and Damages in Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Cases

Victims of carbon monoxide poisoning may be entitled to various types of compensation and damages to help alleviate the financial, physical, and emotional burdens resulting from their ordeal:

  • Medical Expenses: This covers emergency treatment, hospitalization, ongoing medical care, and rehabilitation.
  • Lost Wages: This is compensation for income lost during illness and a decline in potential future earnings due to long-term health consequences.
  • Pain and Suffering: These non-economic damages address physical and emotional distress, including pain, anxiety, and diminished quality of life.
  • Punitive or Exemplary Damages: Though rare in Michigan, in cases of severe negligence or willful misconduct, punitive damages punish the responsible party and deter similar incidents.

Consulting with legal professionals is essential for victims to understand and pursue the appropriate compensation based on the specifics of their carbon monoxide poisoning case.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or vomiting

If someone is experiencing these symptoms and they’ve been near an appliance that emits carbon monoxide, they should seek immediate medical treatment.

How Can Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Be Prevented?

  • Keep carbon monoxide detectors operating at all times in homes or in recreational vehicles.
  • Make sure all gas appliances are well-ventilated.
  • Have a qualified technician perform yearly inspections on any appliance that produces carbon monoxide.
  • Have chimneys checked or cleaned annually.

Though you might be able to monitor or control many of the most common sources of carbon monoxide, there are some situations beyond your control. For example, ensuring the safety of a property is the job of its owner. Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their products.

When you suffer serious harm from carbon monoxide poisoning because another party failed to take proper care, you have the right to file a lawsuit to hold them accountable for the costs you face.

How to Choose the Right Attorney for a Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Case

Selecting the right attorney for a carbon monoxide poisoning case is a crucial step in seeking justice and compensation. To ensure you make an informed decision, consider the following tips:

  • Relevant Experience: Look for a lawyer with specific experience in handling carbon monoxide poisoning cases. Review their past case outcomes, especially in similar cases involving negligence, product liability, or breach of warranty.
  • Client Testimonials: Seek client testimonials and reviews to gain insights into the attorney’s reputation and previous client satisfaction. This firsthand feedback can shed light on the attorney’s communication style and overall effectiveness.
  • Communication Style: Choose an attorney whose communication style aligns with your own. Clarity, transparency, and compassion is essential for a successful attorney-client relationship.
  • Fee Structure: Understand the attorney’s fee structure upfront. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case. Make sure you clarify the percentage of their fee, as well as any potential additional costs.

Let Fieger Law Help

If you’re considering your legal options after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning, or if you’ve lost a loved one due to carbon monoxide poisoning, our Detroit product liability lawyers can help. Though our law firm is based in Michigan, we can help victims nationwide.

When you contact us, we can review the details of your case and help you better understand your legal options for seeking compensation from the at-fault party. Our case reviews are free, and there’s no obligation to file a legal claim if you don’t wish to do so.

Contact Fieger Law today for your free consultation.

Originally published June 14, 2021.