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Who is Liable in an Albuquerque Hotel Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Case?

The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico is consistently ranked as one of the top cities in the country for its incredible food, wide open spaces, and strong film industry presence. With desert landscapes and other fascinating sights, the city boasts the allure of a Southwest regional vibe which permeates the culinary, artistic, and geopolitical culture of the city.

As a destination, Albuquerque offers an abundance of attractions for visitors, and because of this, the tourist industry thrives. In fact, in 2012, TripAdvisor placed Albuquerque on its list of ‘15 Destinations on the Rise’, and a year later, it landed a spot on Forbes’ ‘5 Remarkably Affordable Travel Destinations for 2013’. Especially during peak seasonal vacation months, as more visitors flock to the city, the hospitality and service industry are especially affected. Initially, an influx of tourists means more business and more profit, but crowds of tourists can bring problems as well as benefits.

The strain of the demand stresses Albuquerque hotels’ operations and management, and many equipment upkeep issues that are prone to failure in the best of times get swept under the rug. Some are more concern than others, but one has deadly consequences when it goes without notice: poisonous carbon monoxide leaks from aging hotel facilities.

Besides pure toxicity, the most dangerous aspect of the carbon monoxide is its undetectable nature. It is odorless, scentless, and tasteless, and therefore often impossible to detect until it is already too late. Symptoms can rapidly develop hours or even minutes after the exposure, and these symptoms can sometimes be fatal. In the event of a carbon monoxide poisoning case in an Albuquerque hotel room, who is liable for the victims’ health?

Who Is Liable for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Albuquerque Hotels?

Although the laws in New Mexico dealing with carbon monoxide poisoning do have some precedent, the overarching policy is rather unspecific. Part of the reason for this is the inherent difficulty in finding a single, traceable source of the gas. Often by the time some source of gas leaks enough to disperse carbon monoxide in through vents of a hotel room, it is difficult to place culpability on the manufacturing company.

In one New Mexico court proceeding, the case of Livingston v. Begay, hotel stayer died from a carbon monoxide leak from a gas-powered space heater in a hotel room. The family attorney brought a lawsuit against the current hotel owners the former operators of the hotel, and supplier of both gas and heater. The current hotel owners were the only ones able to be held accountable in this case, as they assume basic responsibility of inherent danger within the room they rent out to guests. The owners – last name Livingston – decided to pursue an appeal of this ruling.

During the appeal, the court initially determined that the owners of the hotel could prove two key factors: that they ensured routine maintenance checks at the property, and that they had no knowledge of a prior event or threat. The Court of Appeals originally reached this conclusion, only to reverse it later, upholding a ‘doctrine of strict liability’ regarding a hotel owner/operator’s duty.

Determining Liability of Hotels in Guest Injury and Illness

As stated in the above example, in the event of an Albuquerque hotel carbon monoxide poisoning, strict owner liability is commonly the primary and most significant source of culpability. Of course, keep in mind that those staying in a hotel or motel room near any gas sources do assume a certain amount of inherent risk.

It is not necessarily knowledge of the threat of a leak that can determine guilt, but instead knowledge of the presence of a leak. Additionally, it is important to remember that the state of New Mexico still has very little concrete legislation in place to regulate hotels and ensure that they include some form of carbon monoxide detection system in their rooms. This can make obtaining full compensation difficult without proper legal guidance.

Call Our Lawyers in Albuquerque, New Mexico

If you or someone you love has been exposed to life-threatening carbon monoxide fumes in an Albuquerque hotel or motel, you deserve a chance to fight for compensation for your injuries and damages. Contact the attorneys from the law firm of Carabin Shaw as soon as possible; determining liability begins with early action. We have Albuquerque accident attorneys and experienced lawyers serving people all across the Southwest.

With a free consultation, one of our Albuquerque injury lawyers will answer all your questions and help guide you towards maximum compensation and recovery for your injuries and damages. Call our attorneys today toll-free, anytime day or night, at 800-862-1260.

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