A Hidden Threat, A Familiar Location: The Danger of Carbon Monoxide from Automobiles

A speeding car. A broken banister on a store's staircase. A brand-new electronic device throwing off sparks. While all these dangers may be unexpected, they are all tangible. In contrast, carbon monoxide is a threat that can't be touched, can't be seen, can't be smelled. Nonetheless, it is a dangerous, even deadly, threat. In this blog entry, our Panama City carbon monoxide injury attorney focuses on the specific threat of cars and carbon monoxide.

A Quick Overview of Carbon Monoxide

As the Centers for Disease Control notes, carbon monoxide (chemically, "CO") is a colorless and odorless gas found in combustion fumes. CO gas becomes a danger to people and animals when allowed to build up in a semi- or wholly-enclosed area. When inhaled in such an environment, it can replace oxygen in the bloodstream and deprive the body of the essential nutrient. Initial symptoms of CO poisoning can be vague and include headache, chest pain, nausea/vomiting, dizziness, weakness, and confusion. If exposure continues, it can lead to a loss of consciousness or even death.

The Role of Motor Vehicles in CO Poisonings

Iowa State University provides a helpful website focused on the danger of CO poisoning related to motor vehicles. The article notes that hundreds of people die each year because of CO produced by a motor vehicle. Exposure can occur in a range of ways, including but not limited to:

  • Running a vehicle in an enclosed/semi-enclosed garage while in the garage or in an attached dwelling;
  • Driving a vehicle with a defective exhaust or emissions system;
  • Driving with a trunk or tailgate open;
  • Running a vehicle with a blocked tailpipe, such as keeping a car running when stranded due to snow that has also clogged the tailpipe

Notably, newer vehicles usually come equipped with catalytic converters that add additional oxygen to carbon monoxide turning it into the common, non-poisonous carbon dioxide. A vehicle with a catalytic converter typically releases tailpipe emissions with less than 1,000 ppm of CO, compared to anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 ppm from vehicles without the device. While is an important protection, it is not a guarantee. Exhaust fumes can leak out before reaching the catalytic converter or the catalytic converter can malfunction. Additionally, the devices do not work during cold starts or when there is insufficient oxygen in the air (ex. in a closed building).

A Quick Note About a Serious Danger

Carbon monoxide poisoning from vehicle fumes is a serious health danger. There is also an added threat when CO impacts a driver. Exposure symptoms can interfere with driving skills. A patient may not see his/her own impairment and symptoms like confusion and irrational thought patterns can lead to serious car accidents.

How Our Florida Unsafe Emissions Lawyer Can Help

If CO poisoning impacts you or a loved one, especially if it causes permanent health/mental impairment or claimed your loved one's life, you should call an experienced injury lawyer like Attorney Pittman. Lawyers are skilled investigators and the sooner you obtain counsel, the sooner they can get to work to figure out how the patient was exposed.

Those answers tell the lawyer what claims might be available to you, such as a product liability claim against a car maker you used an unreasonably risky (but likely cheaper) exhaust pipe, a repairperson whose shoddy work constituted both negligence and breach of contract, or a claim against a builder for not providing adequate ventilation. Likewise, if a driver impaired by CO caused an accident that harmed you or your close family member, we may be able to reach beyond the driver to the party responsible for the exposure.

Attorney Pittman has a broad understanding of the personal injury field. This breadth of knowledge is key in complex cases such as those involving CO exposure. If CO has endangered you or a loved one, call The Pittman Firm to learn more. A consultation with our attorney for chemical exposure victims in Panama City is always free. In most cases, you only pay us if you recovery money.

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