Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) February 21, 2012 – This wrongful death was likely the result of negligence on the part of a heater installer. The dead man’s family wants to make sure it does not happen again.
“During the winter months, we rely on our heaters to keep us warm, and so did the elderly man in this case. He was 86-years-old at the time of his death from carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation,” explained Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P.
The man’s daughter found her father in the bathroom, blanketed in soot. Her horror and grief knew no bounds when she further discovered that the furnace installed in her dad’s home in 2009 was in violation of several state safety codes, that the company that installed it did not bother to get a permit from the city for work and that the installer did not run a combustion test.
The daughter had not been able to reach her father by phone and became worried about him. She drove to his home, and when she walked through the house, she discovered smoke and soot all through the house. In fact, she was unable to see where she was going without hugging the walls. She finally found her dad in the bathroom. Almost overcome from the fumes herself, she managed to get out of the house and call 911. The four police officers that arrived also needed to be treated for exposure to the toxic fumes in the house.
On further investigation, it was determined the 18-month-old furnace had been installed without a permit; something the company did admit was overlooked. “The permit was not the only oversight in this awful story,” added Schuelke. “Investigators discovered a pipe too small for the flue, a chimney completely clogged with soot and a connector pipe installed in the wrong location and positioned too close to flammable materials.”
The daughter filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and as part of that suit, the company was expected to turn over the results of the combustion test they said they performed. It was never produced, not even during the initial stages of the investigation into the man’s death. Although the lawyer for the plaintiff attempted a settlement, the company indicated they would not offer any settlement.
“The case will be going to court, with a full report by the state fire marshal included in the evidence. The plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages, as well as punitive damages for her father’s wrongful death and for violating the state’s consumer protection laws. While it is difficult to say if the plaintiff will be successful, it appears that she should be based on the persuasive evidence presented in the case,” opined Schuelke.
Wrongful death cases are never the same, other than the outcome is a death that should not have happened, but for the negligence of another person or entity. They are also cases that are filed in accordance with a wrongful death statute in force in the state the person lives in.
“For this reason, and because wrongful death statutes vary from state to state, it is necessary to speak to a seasoned personal injury lawyer to find out how to proceed in cases such as this,” Schuelke advised.
Perlmutter & Schuelke, LLP
1717 W. 6th Street, Suite 375
Austin, Texas 78703-4868
Call (512) 476-4944