Orlando Walmart’s Evacuation Demonstrates Risk of Carbon Monoxide Exposure
A trip to a local Walmart has become quite common for many residents in Florida and the rest of the United States. Although the discount superstores are typically known for their low prices, they aren’t generally known for poisoning their patrons with a toxic gas. But that is exactly what happened earlier this month at an Orlando Walmart when carbon monoxide (CO) levels were dangerously high, which caused an evacuation and even treatment by medical personnel. The incident leaves more questions than answers, including what you should do if you or a loved one is ever affected by an incident involving a dangerous gas.
According to news reports, the Walmart in Avalon Park was evacuated just after 3:30 a.m. on August 9th because of dangerously high carbon monoxide levels. Once fire and rescue crews arrived on the scene at 4:00 a.m. with sophisticated measurement tools, it was determined that the air inside the Walmart contained 400 parts of carbon monoxide per million. For reference, 35 parts per million represents a number that is “excessive”. In fact, CO levels were so high that authorities could not enter the building to determine the cause of the dangerously high levels for several hours. Fire Rescue representatives said that 13 individuals were treated by responding medics for the poisoning with seven being transported to local hospitals for further care. Many of those who were inside the Walmart at the time of the evacuation refused medical care. Fire Rescue authorities also stated that the cause of the high CO levels is unknown but could have been caused by a remodeling project that involved construction workers working with tools powered by propane.
The news of the Walmart evacuation in Avalon Park begs the questions: how can I tell if I am in an area with levels of carbon monoxide that are too high? And if I am affected by such an exposure, what are my legal rights? The first question is a tough one to answer because carbon monoxide poisoning can happen silently and without much warning. Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, meaning that it is next to impossible to be able to tell (using your senses) that you have been or are being poisoned by the gas. Many homes and businesses now have CO monitors that will sound if levels of carbon monoxide or other dangerous gasses get too high. But if you are inside an enclosed space and begin to develop a headache and/or lightheadedness, it is advisable to move to the outside and get some fresh air.
If you were exposed to a dangerous gas, you could recover for your injuries.
When it comes to legal remedies for damages suffered as a result of CO poisoning, a business owner may be liable. Under Florida law, a property owner is required to keep his or her property safe for customers who have come on the property to conduct business. Further, if a property owner knows (or should know) of a potential risk of harm, they should take measures to make the area as safe as possible for customers. For instance, if Walmart knew or had reason to know that a CO leak could occur due to construction work being done on the property, a court could find that they did not take the necessary steps to keep their customers safe. Such a finding would likely allow customers that suffered physical or monetary injuries to recover against Walmart or any other responsible party.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney today.
Investigations to determine the cause of harmful gas leaks are often complicated, requiring a legal team that understands the complex laws regarding premises liability with regards to gasses. If you or a loved one was exposed to carbon monoxide inside the Walmart in Avalon Park or at any other business, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The skilled professionals at the Tallahassee law firm of Barrett, Fasig & Brooks have decades of experience getting injured clients just like you what they deserve. Give us a call today to set up your free initial consultation at (866) 346-4186 or (850) 224-3310.