“Ten of the world’s largest automakers are facing a consumer class action lawsuit filed early Wednesday morning in California on behalf of millions of Americans who own or lease vehicles equipped with keyless ignitions. The suit alleges the automakers have known for years about increased dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning when people mistakenly leave their keyless ignition vehicles running after they’ve left the car, taking their key fobs with them.”
Keyless-Go vehicles, also called smart-key cars, have become very common in the United States. They don’t require keys to start, instead relying on a remote fob and a button or switch on the dashboard to start or stop. However, this convenience has led to unintended consequences: People are forgetting to shut off the engine. They have gotten so used to not turning a key — just parking and getting out — that they sometimes forget to hit the dashboard switch or button.
That has led to an increase in keyless ignition carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning when the car is parked in a closed garage. The CO seeps into the rest of the house as the vehicle continues to run.
Manufacturers play a role in preventing this. For example, they could include an automatic shutoff that happens if the car is parked and idle for a certain amount of time or when no one is in the driver’s seat. Home builders can also take action by providing better sealing between the garage and the rest of the home.
What to Look For
CO does not have a distinct odor, nor does it have a color. It is often associated with industrial injuries, but it is a major threat that can originate at many points in the home or in commercial settings, including gas stoves, gas furnaces, and car and boat exhaust. It is especially dangerous because by the time someone starts experiencing symptoms, they are already on their way to becoming poisoned.
Groups of people will often have similar complaints at the same time. The elderly, children, and those with chronic health problems may experience symptoms first. You really won’t find one person in a household complaining when others feel fine, unless the source of the CO is specific to a room that only that one person spends a lot of time in alone. Symptoms range from physical effects that look like a stomach illness to behavioral effects. Victims of CO poisoning must receive treatment immediately because CO poisoning can be severe and result in brain swelling.
What to Do
If you think you are experiencing symptoms or you find someone who is, move them and yourself to fresh air immediately. Do not go into another room, but actually get outside and away from the structure.
- Contact paramedics right away. Don’t attempt to drive because you might have some neurological effects from the CO that would affect your reflexes and ability to drive safely. Paramedics will have oxygen supplies and will be able to begin treatment at once.
- Have the paramedics or the doctor that treats you check your blood or CO levels. This is called a COHb test.
- Ask the fire department to come out and test the CO levels in the air of the structure. This is known as the CO parts per million, or PPM. Save this number because you may need to show it to your doctor or to lawyers if you file a lawsuit.
What Steps to Take Afterward
If you think that you or someone you know has been exposed to CO because of a Keyless-Go vehicle or other smart-key car, legal action may be the next best step to take. Attorney Sam Coffey of Coffey Trial Law is currently focusing on these types of cases and can help you determine if the CO poisoning could have been prevented by the car manufacturer or home builder, and he can guide you through the process of obtaining legal remedies if warranted. CO poisoning is not something to be taken lightly by you or by manufacturers. Give Coffey Trial Law a call now at (954) 541-3194 if you’ve had to deal with carbon monoxide poisoning.