Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent killer that comes from any motor burning gas fuel. Exposure to this gas can lead to serious injuries and death. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills at least 430 people every year and injures over 50,000 people who visit their emergency rooms for treatment in the United States.
Multi-family homes and apartment complexes are particularly vulnerable due to their smaller sizes, allowing lower concentrations of the gas to be lethal.
Landlords must follow state guidelines for installing carbon monoxide detectors and maintain their property regularly, including the furnace. Experienced Michigan premises liability lawyers can help you hold the at-fault party liable for your carbon monoxide injuries by bringing a claim on your behalf.
When is a Landlord Liable for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Furnaces?
If the tenant can prove that the landlord’s inaction contributed to or created the hazardous circumstance, a court may hold them liable for the injuries. A landlord may be held accountable by a court for carbon monoxide poisoning caused by furnaces in the following scenarios:
● Failure to conduct emergency repairs to the furnace
According to Michigan law, landlords must maintain their rental properties and all common areas within the basic health and safety requirements. Almost all courts also acknowledge an implied warranty of habitability in a lease agreement. There must be a minimum standard for rental properties so that tenants do not face unjustified risks. This warranty cannot be waived.
Health and safety requirements include regular maintenance of the rental properties’ ventilation and heating systems like the furnace. If a tenant sees any symptoms of wear and tear on a combustible item, such as a furnace, they must notify the landlord as soon as possible. The landlord is then obligated to make necessary repairs. A landlord may be liable for the carbon monoxide poisoning of a tenant due to a poorly repaired furnace.
● Improper installation of carbon monoxide detectors
The state of Michigan requires the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in multifamily dwellings. A CO detector should be placed near the bedrooms, entryways to an attached garage, and rooms adjacent to a fuel-burning device.
If a detector fails to warn tenants of carbon monoxide poisoning, the landlord may be held liable if the tenants prove that the landlord installed the device recklessly and that the poor installation caused the poisoning. However, claiming negligence may be challenging since the person who installs the carbon monoxide detector per the manufacturer’s instructions is not responsible for its effectiveness, maintenance, and operation.
● Violation of the lease agreement
Your lease agreement may have an addendum indicating that the home must have working CO detectors. This ensures the installation of the carbon monoxide detectors is in accordance with state laws.
It can also require that tenants check their CO detector batteries twice a year and that there is no tampering with the detectors. A court may hold a landlord legally responsible for breach of contract if, despite the lease, the landlord does not install a carbon monoxide detector in the dwelling at all.
● Retaliation for requesting repairs
If you let your landlord know about unsafe conditions or a problem with the furnace, they should take your request seriously. Michigan law prohibits retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs or complaining about the property’s habitability.
A tenant may sue the landlord if the landlord attempts retaliatory acts such as forceful eviction within 90 days or the threat of force to compel them to leave.
Hold Landlords Liable for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Injuries and Deaths
Your landlord is responsible for maintaining the furnace and installing carbon xide detectors in your home. When a person dies or you are injured due to carbon monoxide poisoning, the physical anguish, the emotional distress, the funeral expenses, and the medical expenses can last a lifetime.
However, determining who is responsible for you or a loved one’s carbon monoxide exposure requires the knowledge of lawyers who specialize in these cases. Fieger Law’s premises liability attorneys can investigate your case and bring a claim for your carbon monoxide exposure.
We not only handle cases throughout Michigan, but we also represent clients nationwide. Contact us today for a free initial consultation regarding your claim.