Klamath Falls, OR asked in Personal Injury, Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for Oregon

Q: What legal action could/should I take regarding long term low level carbon monoxide poisoning over the past 6 years?

My family and I moved into our rental 6 years ago. Recently Our Security system we just bought picks up general air quality ie. pollen, cooking odors, methane, dust and carbon monoxide. It was detecting abnormal air quality the past week that we've had it. I double checked our smoke detectors, and could not find one that indicated it also detected Carbon Monoxide. I purchased a carbon monoxide detector yesterday and early morning today, it went off. Gas company confirmed carbon monoxide leak from exhaust piping. Property Management sent out someone to fix the problem. Turns out that before we moved in, the exhaust piping was repaired wrong, in such a way that it got plugged (it was tied into old dryer vent) and all of the piping ended up rusted up and riddled with holes for years. We've had chronic headaches with our children, depression in our oldest son (known exposure side effect) dizziness and chronic stomach issues with my wife the past 4 years. I've researched long-term exposure

3 Lawyer Answers
Gregory L Abbott
Gregory L Abbott
Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: That can certainly be distressing but nothing you posted indicates that you have actually suffered any specific harm from the exposure so what are your damages? Plus, a landlord is not a guarantor that nothing will go wrong. Rather it is their duty to fix problems with reasonable diligence once the landlord becomes aware of the problem. If neither you nor the landlord were aware of the issue until now, and it is being actively addressed once it was discovered, I don't see any liability on the landlord's part. Perhaps whoever did the original repair wrong might have some potential liability but you might have statute of limitations issues (depending upon the exact facts) as well as still having a lack of damages, at least from what you posted. You still should be thoroughly checked out by a doctor. If they find evidence of harm coming to you because of the exposure, that would certainly help establish damages but you would still have a potential issue of who would be liable and is it too late even if they are. Good luck.

Katherine Goodman and Tim Akpinar agree with this answer

Joanne Reisman
Joanne Reisman
Answered
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: You may very well have a case for personal injury IF and I mean a big IF you can tie the carbon monoxide leak to your health issues. I want to warn you that just because you read somewhere that carbon monoxide can cause headaches and other problems, this doesn't mean that you can prove that it caused the health issues in your family. I would probably agree with you that it was a cause or a factor, but in order to recover in a court of law you have to have solid proof and you will be up against a lot of well paid defense lawyers. So first you have to find a Personal Injury Lawyer willing to take your case, willing to put up the funds for the expert you will need to hire, and willing to take certain risks, like you lose the case so the Attorney is out their time and money, or you win the case but the award is puny so financially the Attorney still is out the time and the money. But it doesn't hurt to ask. So call around and talk a personal injury Attorney who specializes in carbon monoxide poisoning cases.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
Answered

A: It sounds like it would be a difficult case. Ms. Reisman and Mr. Abbott both introduce and generously detail very cogent and compelling points - including the high cost of expert testimony. While carbon monoxide is a very real and tangible hazard, the broad spectrum of symptoms it brings about could introduce difficulty from a litigation standpoint in terms of establishing causality. As mentioned, you could try to arrange a consult with an attorney. Good luck

Tim Akpinar

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