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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Do You Have a Case?

Nov 24, 2022

Carbon monoxide (CO) is sometimes known as a silent killer due to the dangerous effects of prolonged carbon monoxide exposure. People and animals can inhale toxic levels of this odorless, colorless gas without realizing it, leading to fatal consequences.


The public and some medical professionals and lawyers commonly misunderstand carbon monoxide poisoning. As a result, many people struggle to understand their legal rights and options after suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning

This guide will help you better understand carbon monoxide poisoning and what you can do if it harms you or a loved one.  

What Are Common Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Familiarizing yourself with common carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms will make it easier to determine whether you or someone you know is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms can develop within hours of carbon monoxide exposure and will show up faster in smaller people and animals. For this reason, pets often exhibit symptoms before people.

Some of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: 

Faster Breathing

Struggling to breathe, especially in the form of faster or rapid breathing, is a symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning. Someone experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning may find it hard to catch their breath or difficult to breathe at all. 

If accompanied by other symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, faster breathing is a sign the individual is suffering from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Altered Blood Pressure

Given that carbon monoxide enters and travels through the bloodstream, it’s no surprise that carbon monoxide poisoning affects the heart and blood pressure. Carbon monoxide poisoning can increase coronary flow and blood pressure and decrease heart rate and pulse pressure. Sudden changes in heart rate or blood pressure may indicate carbon monoxide poisoning.  

Chest Pain

Related to faster breathing and shortness of breath, chest pain is typical for people experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning. Sometimes, the pain will spread from the person's chest to their neck, jaw, and shoulders. 


Headaches are a common carbon monoxide poisoning symptom. Headaches caused by carbon monoxide poison generally feel like tension in your head. 

Additional symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:

  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Weakness and dizziness
  • Hearing loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Death

Even mild carbon monoxide poisoning can cause serious symptoms, and severe carbon monoxide poisoning has the potential to be fatal. For pregnant women, carbon monoxide poisoning during pregnancy carries additional risks for fetal complications

If you think you or a loved one is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, seek emergency medical attention right away. Remain vigilant for a return of symptoms. It takes several hours after exposure for carbon monoxide to leave the body completely. 

How Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Diagnosed?

When someone seeks medical attention for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, the medical professionals will need to reach a diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning before proceeding with treatment.

They will evaluate the patient’s symptoms and history, complete a physical exam, and typically confirm the diagnosis with testing. First responders or other medical professionals can use a pulse carbon monoxide oximeter — a noninvasive tool using light waves — to measure the saturation of carbon monoxide in the person’s blood.   

How Does Carbon Monoxide Produce Severe Effects?

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a buildup of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream. As someone breathes in a high sustained level of carbon monoxide, the carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in that person’s red blood cells and increases oxidative stress. The red blood cells are then no longer able to carry oxygen to vital organs, causing tissue and brain damage or death in extreme cases.  

Common Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Scenarios

In most cases, those dealing with carbon monoxide poisoning suffer from it unintentionally. Media often depict carbon monoxide poisoning as intentional carbon monoxide poisoning in car interiors or garages, but the following unintentional CO poisoning scenarios are typical:

Gas Appliances Such as Gas Stoves

Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels such as natural gas. When gas-burning appliances like gas stoves do not burn properly, that creates a situation in which carbon monoxide might build up and reach toxic levels. 

Camp Stoves, Camp Fire Pits, and Charcoal Grills 

Similarly, camp stoves, portable campfire pits, and charcoal grills also have the potential to cause carbon monoxide poisoning. You should always use these items outdoors where they have room to ventilate. If placed inside, outdoor stoves and grills can quickly lead to a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide. Avoid using camp stoves and grills inside cabins, RVs, and tents. 

Other Fuel-burning Appliances Like Portable Generators

Portable generators also commonly produce carbon monoxide as a byproduct of burning fuel. Keep all these fuel-burning appliances outdoors and away from open doors and windows unless they are made to be used indoors. 

Properly maintaining all your fuel-burning appliances will also help avoid a carbon monoxide problem. Make sure all of these appliances vent outside and are regularly checked for potential problems. Never use an oven or stove to heat your home. 

Hire Legal Representation for a Fair Settlement

Some people aren’t aware that they can seek settlements for carbon monoxide poisoning. If another party was at fault for the carbon monoxide poisoning incident, you can file a lawsuit to receive appropriate compensation. Some situations that warrant the help of a carbon monoxide poisoning lawyer include:

  • Brain injuries or wrongful death from carbon monoxide exposure
  • Carbon monoxide leaks due to faulty appliances like boilers, cookers, and water heaters
  • Damages caused by faulty carbon monoxide detectors
  • Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to receive compensation in these and other situations. The at-fault party in your case may be the:
  • Landlord
  • Property owner
  • Building manager
  • Maintenance worker
  • Manufacturer

The Spence Law Firm is available to guide you through the carbon monoxide poisoning claims process. We have extensive experience handling complicated carbon monoxide cases and work with top medical experts to prove your case. Contact the Spence Law Firm now to schedule a free consultation.

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