Court Finds Used-Car Dealer May Be Liable for Plaintiffs’ Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a used car that was allegedly sold without a muffler, which, according to the plaintiffs, caused their carbon monoxide poisoning. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense, and thus, the lower court was wrong to have granted the motion.

This case presents an important issue for those who have been injured in a Maryland car accident and believe the accident was caused in part by a missing or defective vehicle component.

The Facts of the Case

A couple bought a used car from the defendant dealership. The car, which had been received by the defendant dealership as a trade-in, had 180,000 miles on it and had a number of mechanical problems. However, the salesperson for the defendant did not note that the car was missing a muffler.

The plaintiffs bought the car and noticed after a few days of driving it that it smelled like gasoline. They also noticed that driving in the car would give them a headache. One day, the plaintiffs took one of their minor children along to view an apartment they were thinking about renting. The three waited inside the car for 45 minutes for the landlord to show up. For most of this time, the windows were down, but one of the plaintiff rolled the windows up when it started to rain.

Once the landlord showed up, the three got out of the car. The minor child collapsed and later started having a seizure. The plaintiffs took him to the emergency room, but by the time they arrived, he had stopped breathing. The child survived, but all three plaintiffs were diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning.

The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit, claiming that their poisoning was due to the car being sold without a muffler. The plaintiffs had two experts testify. First, a local fire captain who was not present at the scene but was aware of carbon monoxide poisoning testified. He explained that the plaintiff’s symptoms were consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning that was caused by sitting in a car with no muffler. He explained that the carbon monoxide can creep into the cabin of a car through the vehicle ducts, and a muffler is designed to expel the hazardous gas out from the rear of the car so that it does not get inside the cabin.

The next expert was a treating physician, who testified to the injuries sustained by the plaintiffs. Essentially, he testified that what the plaintiffs suffered was indeed carbon monoxide poisoning.

A lower court granted the dealership’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiffs failed to establish a causal link between the sale of the car without a muffler and their injuries. However, on appeal, that was found to be an error. The appellate court held that the plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence, both circumstantially as well as in the form of expert testimony, that the lack of muffler on the car caused their injuries.

Have You Been Injured in a Defective Vehicle?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured due to a defective vehicle, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Maryland accident lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen handle all types of Maryland car accident claims, including those arising from defective or dangerous vehicles. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Third-Party Liability in Maryland Drunk Driving Accidents, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published May 2, 2018.

Plaintiff’s Case Dismissed Based on Misleading Testimony Regarding Previous Injuries, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published May 16, 2018.

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