Were You Injured In An Electrical Shock Or Electrocution Accident?
Every year an estimated 1,000 people die from electrocution accidents and another 30,000 or so suffer non-fatal electrical shock injuries.
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Every year an estimated 1,000 people die from electrocution accidents and another 30,000 or so suffer non-fatal electrical shock injuries.
They may not be the types of accidents that typically make the news, but every year an estimated 1,000 people die from electrocution accidents and another 30,000 or so suffer non-fatal electrical shock injuries. A serious or fatal electrical accident can happen in the blink of an eye and the consequences of such an accident can be devastating for victims and their loved ones. Our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation believe in helping victims of electrical accidents and the loved ones of those killed in fatal electrocution accidents recover the compensation they deserve for the considerable losses they have suffered. Contact CJF as soon as possible to find out if you are eligible to file an electrocution accident claim against the person or party whose negligence or misconduct caused or contributed to the electrical accident.
What is an Electrocution Accident?
An electric shock occurs when part of a person’s body comes in contact with a source of electricity, causing an electrical current to travel through the person’s muscles or skin. High-voltage electrical shocks from power lines or electrical equipment can cause serious injury to victims or may even result in death. The higher the voltage, the more damage it can cause to a person’s skin (burns), nervous system, or internal organs, such as the heart. Technically speaking, the definition of an electrical accident is any accident in which a person sustains an electric shock, while an electrocution is an electrical accident that results in permanent injury or death to the accident victim. The following are some common causes of electrical shock and electrocution accidents:
- Exposed wiring
- Fallen or sagging power lines
- A defective product
- Human error
- Wiring that is not properly installed
- Improper electrical systems
- Faulty electrical equipment
- Defective or poorly maintained construction equipment
- Distracted or inattentive workers
- Poorly trained workers
- Faulty power tools
Electrocution Accident Injuries & Deaths
Electricity is a powerful and unpredictable force and there is no telling how severe an impact an electrocution accident may have on the accident victim. A person can suffer electrocution any time their body, tool or equipment touches live power, such as an exposed wire, an overhead power line, or even an underground power line. Some common injuries resulting from electrical shock and electrocution accidents include the following:
- Severe burns
- Electrical shocks
- Cellular damage
- Organ damage
- Tissue damage
- Nerve damage
- Brain injury
- Cardiac arrest
- Broken bones from a fall
- Neurological problems
- Permanent physical disability
- Wrongful death
Who is at Risk for Electrocution Accidents?
There are a number of occupations that require workers to have frequent contact with electricity, such as electricians and utility workers. These types of workers anticipate a certain degree of risk when doing their jobs and have specific safety protocols in place to reduce their risk of sustaining injuries on the job. However, there are certain unexpected conditions that can elevate the risk of on-the-job electrocution accidents happening to even the most safety-conscious workers, such as power tool defects, faulty electrical equipment, exposed electrical wiring, or even distracted or poorly trained coworkers. There are also many electrocution accidents in the U.S. that involve people who do not work with electricity and are therefore completely unprepared for the possibility of an electrical accident occurring.
Adults and Seniors
Electrical injuries among adults typically occur in occupational settings where workers routinely come in contact with electricity or electrical equipment on the job. That being said, even adults who do not work with wiring, electrical equipment, or live power sources can be injured or killed in electrical accidents involving damaged power lines, electrical wiring, electrical appliances or other electrical equipment. For instance, a storm with high winds may bring down high-voltage power lines onto a person’s car or home, or the person may be struck by or accidentally come in contact with downed power lines on foot, which can result in electrocution. Adults can also suffer burns and other serious or potentially life-threatening electrical injuries from faulty electrical wiring or electrical appliances in the home that were not properly serviced. The same goes for seniors in assisted living facilities, who may also be at risk for injury or death from electrical shock or electrocution accidents caused by any number of unexpected electrical hazards that were not properly addressed by the facility or staff members.
Compared to adults, electrical accidents involving children primarily occur in a household setting, where they may be at risk for injuries from defective electrical products, such as power tools, electrical appliances or medical devices. Exposed wiring or wiring that is improperly installed or repaired is another common cause of electrical accidents and electrocutions in the home that may cause children to suffer serious or potentially life-threatening injuries. Child electrical injuries can occur outside the home, too. We discuss in further detail below the risk of water electrocution accidents, which are a significant safety concern for children swimming in backyard swimming pools or other bodies of water near power lines or other electricity sources. Children can also be injured or killed in electrical shock or electrocution accidents while playing in backyard tree houses or outdoor play areas located underneath or near overhead power lines.
Speaking of power lines, damaged, sagging or fallen power lines also pose a serious safety risk for young children, who may not understand the dangers of electricity and electrical equipment or know enough to stay far away from them. On their own, fallen power lines pose a risk of fatal electrocution for unsuspecting children, and this risk is significantly elevated any time water or a wet surface is involved. Children splashing around in a flooded area after a rainstorm, for instance, could be at risk for electrocution if the area is in contact with a fallen power line or energized electrical equipment. Most children have no idea that downed power lines can energize the ground up to 35 feet away, even more so in wet conditions, when the risk of electrocution is at its highest.
Where do Electrocution Accidents Occur?
Because of the nature of construction site work, electrical shock and electrocution accidents are unfortunately a fairly common occurrence in the construction industry. In fact, electrocution is the second leading cause of workplace death for construction workers and the fifth leading cause of death for all occupations in the U.S. That is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established strict guidelines and safety standards for electrical work on construction sites and other job sites, to safeguard workers and minimize the risk of electrocution accidents.
When a job site is not up to code, the consequences can be devastating for workers and their loved ones, and employers and third-party contractors have a duty to maintain the proper safety standards and protect their workers from unreasonable harm on construction sites. If they fail to do so and an electrocution accident occurs, they may be liable for any resulting injuries or fatalities. Unfortunately, some employers, third-party contractors, and even other workers cut corners at work in an attempt to save time or money, which can significantly increase the risk of a serious or fatal electrical accident. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), there are approximately 400 fatal electrocutions that occur on construction sites every year, not to mention the countless nonfatal injuries caused by accidental contact with electricity, including burns, shocks, and broken bones.
Construction Focus Four
The unfortunate truth is that construction workers put themselves in harm’s way every day, just by doing their jobs. Electrocution is one of the “Focus Four Hazards” on construction sites, the other three of which include falls, caught-in/caught-between, and struck-by accidents. These four types of accidents represent the most common construction site hazards as reported by OSHA, whose responsibility it is to make and enforce rules and regulations regarding workplace health and safety in the U.S. Using the acronym “BE SAFE,” OSHA reminds construction workers that Burns, Electrocution, Shock, Arc flash/arc blast, Fire and Explosions are all electrical hazards workers are exposed to when working around cranes and power lines, in and/or around electrical power sources, or with flammables.
Other Job Sites and Workplaces
Although construction site accidents may be the most high-profile category of job-site electrocution accidents in the U.S., construction workers are far from the only workers at risk for this type of workplace accident. Tragic electrocution accidents can occur anywhere there is an electrical current, most commonly at workplaces where employees handle electricity and wiring or where there is a risk that employees may come in contact with a live power source. In addition to construction workers, some other occupations that present a potential electrical shock or electrocution risk for workers include the following:
- Tree trimmers
- Utility/power line workers
- Crane operators
- Truck drivers
- Employees who work with machinery
- Employees who work in manufacturing
Job-Site Electrocution Accident Cases
The OSHA website lists dozens of accidents involving job-site electrocutions that took place in 2020, all of which were fatalities. One such electrocution accident involved a utility worker in Iowa. The employee worked for an electric power utility and was working on a power line that had been damaged in a storm when he suffered an electric shock and was electrocuted and died. In another fatal electrocution accident in 2020, a tree trimmer cutting a tree limb fell onto electrical wires and was electrocuted. Another case involved an employee working for a gutter cleaning service in New Jersey. The victim was working near an overhead power line and was setting up an aluminum extension ladder when the upper section of the ladder came in contact with a part of the power line. He was electrocuted and died.
Water Electrocution Accidents
Although drowning is the number one safety risk associated with pools and other bodies of water, it is important to be aware of the fact that electrocution accidents can also occur around backyard pools, public pools, lakes, ponds, and any other swimming area or wet surface that has electricity nearby. Even bad weather could potentially result in serious electrocution injuries if an overhead power line is brought down in a major rainstorm, or if an unexpected thunderstorm strikes while someone is out swimming in a lake. Water and electricity do not mix under any circumstances, and if your loved one is severely injured or killed in a water electrocution accident at a swimming pool, on a boat, or on someone else’s property, you will want to do everything in your power to ensure the at-fault person or party is held accountable for the accident.
Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs
Swimming pools and hot tubs offer a welcome reprieve from the hot stickiness of summer and many people look forward to spending the warm-weather months relaxing poolside at their own home or at a friend’s or neighbor’s house. Unfortunately, accidents involving electricity are common around pools and other bodies of water. To reduce the risk of electrical shock or electrocution, it is important to be aware of the potential electrical hazards that are present any time water and electricity exist in the same place. For instance, you should never touch a radio, speaker, or any other electrical appliance while in a swimming pool or hot tub, no matter how shallow the water may be. You should also never swim in a pool or other body of water located underneath or near overhead power lines. Faulty wiring or improper grounding or bonding on electrical pool equipment, such as pool vacuums, can also generate a dangerous electrical current that can shock or electrocute swimmers. If you or a loved one is injured in an electrocution accident while using another person’s backyard pool or hot tub, and the accident was caused by unreasonably hazardous conditions, poorly maintained power lines, or malfunctioning electrical equipment, you may have a legal claim against the pool owner or a third party for negligence.
Electrocution accidents can also occur in or near public pools located at community centers, hotels, apartment complexes or other public areas. Unfortunately, patrons at public pools typically have very little control over or knowledge of hidden electrical hazards at the pool that may pose an electrocution risk, such as improperly installed electrical equipment, or electrical wiring, grounding or bonding that has not been adequately inspected or brought up to code. Any failure to ensure a safe swimming environment free of electrical hazards may be considered negligence on the part of the pool owner or operator if an electrocution accident occurs.
Whether you have a friend with a boat or you charter a boat from a charter company, spending the day out on the water can be an exciting opportunity to have fun and sightsee with friends and family. However, there are a number of safety concerns to consider when boating, including the risk of an electrocution accident or electrical shock drowning. This type of accident can occur when an electrical current is discharged into the water, either from a boat, a dock, a light, or some other malfunctioning electrical equipment. If someone from the boat jumps or falls into the water and an electrical current is discharged into the water from an electrical power source, the victim may be electrocuted if the current is strong enough. However, it is more common for a low-level electrical current that is discharged into the water to incapacitate the victim and lead to a drowning death, which is known as an electrical shock drowning. In this type of electrocution accident, there may be no visible warning that the water is energized and swimmers may not feel the current right away.
Anytime you board a boat, you should be alert to the risk of electrocution accidents and electric shock drownings so you can protect yourself and your loved ones from harm. “Although electric shock drowning can occur virtually in any location where electricity is provided near water, the majority of electric shock drowning deaths have occurred in public and private marinas and docks,” warns the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association. If your loved one was killed in an electrical shock drowning, the owner or operator of the boat, the owner or operator of the marina, or any person or entity responsible for the safety of the people onboard the boat, such as a boating charter company, may be responsible for your loved one’s death, depending on the exact cause of the accident.
Other Possible Sources of Electrocution Accidents
As you can see, electrocution accidents can occur virtually anywhere there is an electrical power source, including on a construction site, at a workplace, or near any swimming pool or body of water where electricity is provided. You could also be at risk for an electrical accident in another person’s home, in a retail building, or in any public building where there is a chance that you may come in contact with exposed wires, a live power source, or other electrical hazards.
Electrocution Accident Prevention
Preventing Construction Electrocution Accidents
One might assume that electrocution accidents would be fairly easy for workers to avoid, simply by identifying and avoiding contact with any live power source. However, it is not always as simple as that, especially when it comes to accidents on construction sites. Construction workers often work with ladders, scaffolding and other sizable metal equipment, which may pose an electrocution risk if this equipment unexpectedly comes in contact with a power source or if a worker falls off or is thrown off the equipment and comes in contact with electricity. This could be the result of someone else’s inattention or just as easily because of defective or damaged equipment that collapses or fails to function properly. Construction trucks mounted with cranes or towers may also put construction workers at risk for electrical shock or electrocution if they accidentally touch an overhead wire. The same goes for digging equipment and underground wires.
Who is Liable for Electrocution Accidents?
Electrical shock and electrocution accidents do not happen for no reason. They happen because something went wrong or someone acted or failed to act in a certain way, which means these types of accidents are entirely preventable. Holding the responsible party liable for injuries or death resulting from an electrocution accident is the key to recovering the compensation you deserve for your or your loved one’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the electrocution accident.
Property Owners and Managers
Property owners and managers have a duty to protect the public, employees, and guests from injury or harm caused by unreasonably dangerous or defective conditions on their property, including electrical hazards. If an electrocution accident occurs on someone else’s property and the accident is caused by faulty wiring or some other electrical hazard that was not properly dealt with or warned about, the property owner or manager may be responsible for the accident under premises liability law.
Employers and Third-Parties
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that protects both employers and employees in the event of an on-the-job accident that causes injuries to an employee. If you are injured on the job, you would most likely bring a workers’ compensation claim against your employer’s insurance company for medical benefits and lost wages, rather than pursuing a lawsuit against your employer. If a worker is killed in a job-site accident, workers’ compensation also compensates the decedent’s surviving family members for the death of their loved one. Workers’ compensation has nothing to do with fault, meaning the injured worker is not required to prove that the employer did something wrong and caused the accident in order to receive benefits through workers’ compensation.
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation doesn’t always cover all of the costs associated with injuries that take place on a construction site or another job site, especially those that are serious enough for the accident victim to be out of work long-term. This is where a third-party claim may be beneficial. On many job sites, especially large construction sites, there are often several different contractors and companies involved in the daily operations, any of whom may be fully or partially at fault for a job-site accident that results in a worker’s injury or death. If your electrical accident was caused by the negligence or misconduct of a third party, such as a general contractor who is not your immediate employer, you may be entitled to more than workers’ compensation for the injuries you sustained in the accident.
Third-party claims may also apply to swimming pool electrocution accidents and other electrocution accidents. Say, for instance, an electrician inspects a private or public pool and fails to recognize or repair an obvious electrical hazard. If a guest or patron uses the pool and is electrocuted as a result of the unrepaired electrical hazard, the electrician may be liable for damages. Third-party liability claims can be complicated, which is why we always recommend consulting an attorney when pursuing a claim for compensation against a third-party contractor.
Sometimes electrocution accidents occur because of faulty job-site equipment, electrical appliances, or some other type of defective product. A crane that malfunctions and comes in contact with an overhead power line or scaffolding equipment that fails and collapses are examples of defective equipment that may pose an electrocution risk for workers on a job site. Defective electrical appliances and products can also cause electrical accidents in the home. In this type of situation, the company that manufactured, maintained or repaired the faulty equipment, appliance or product may be responsible for the accident and the resulting injuries or fatalities.
Utility Companies or Workers
Believe it or not, you could even be at risk for an electrocution accident while walking down the street, assuming yourself to be completely safe from harm. You have no doubt seen the overhead power lines that run along most roads. These power lines can carry more than 500,000 volts and can cause serious injury or death to innocent passersby if they are not properly installed or if the power company fails to repair lines that are sagging or were knocked down in a storm. The power company has a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect the public from dangerous or damaged power lines, and if you are injured in an electrocution accident caused by a downed power line that was not properly maintained or repaired, the power company or utility worker responsible for maintaining or repairing the power line may be liable for damages.
Pool Owners and Operators
Swimming in private or public pools can be a source of fun and entertainment for people of all ages, but it can also present a potential electrocution risk if the pool area is not properly maintained. Just like property owners, pool owners and operators have a duty to provide a reasonably safe swimming environment and protect guests and patrons from hidden dangers, including electrical hazards. Swimming pool electrical hazards can include anything from live wires or exposed wiring to faulty underwater lights, extension or power cords, or electric pool equipment located in or near the swimming area. Whether the pool is a backyard swimming pool at a neighbor’s house or a public pool at a local community center, premises liability law states that pool owners and operators must ensure that the pool and pool area is free from electrical hazards and other defective or dangerous conditions that may put visitors at risk for injury or death.
Pursuing Compensation for an Electrocution Accident
Electrical shock and electrocution accidents can cause severe, life-changing injuries or possibly even death. Injuries caused by an electrical accident can have a significant impact on the accident victim’s ability to work, enjoy life, earn a living, and so much more. In the case of a fatal electrocution accident, the accident victim’s surviving family members may find themselves suddenly saddled with costly hospital bills, funeral and burial expenses, and other financial burdens they may have a hard time affording without the victim’s income.
How an Electrocution Accident Lawsuit Can Help
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in an electrical accident and you don’t seek damages from the at-fault party for the losses you and your loved ones have incurred as a result of the accident, you could find yourself faced with costly unforeseen expenses and be unable to provide for your family long-term. Victims of electrocution accidents and their loved ones may choose to file a lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for the accident that caused the victim’s injuries or death, whether the accident occurred at the victim’s place of work, on a construction job site, at a swimming pool, around another body of water, or anywhere else there is a reasonable expectation of safety. An electrocution accident lawsuit is one way victims of electrical accidents and electrocution accidents can recover compensation for the following and more:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of financial support
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Funeral and burial costs
Who Can Sue for Damages?
The goal of an electrocution accident lawsuit is to ensure that victims and their loved ones are adequately compensated for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages arising from the accident. If the victim survives the accident, he or she can pursue compensation directly from the at-fault person or party. In the event of a fatal electrocution accident, the following people may be able to sue for damages on the decedent’s behalf, depending on the laws in the state where the accident occurred:
- The victim’s spouse or partner
- The victim’s parents, if the victim was a minor
- The victim’s children (minor or adult)
- An immediate family member
- Other close relatives
What are the Legal Claims for an Electrocution Accident?
Personal Injury Claim
If you have been injured in an electrical accident and you can show that one or more negligent parties are legally responsible for the accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries and medical expenses under personal injury law. Personal injury claims allow electrical shock accident victims to pursue compensation for the injuries they sustained and any expenses arising from their injuries, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Premises Liability Claim
Property owners who fail to maintain a reasonably safe environment free from electrical hazards may be legally liable for the pain and suffering of any victim injured in an electrocution accident on their property, under premises liability law. If you were electrocuted because of an electrical hazard on another person’s property and the property owner or manager failed to properly address or adequately warn you about the existing hazard, the negligent property owner or manager may be liable for the injuries you sustained in the accident. The ability to pursue compensation through a premises liability claim may depend on your status as a visitor to the property where the electrocution accident occurred, so do not hesitate to consult a reputable premises liability lawyer who can help you with your claim.
Wrongful Death Claim
Accidental electrocution deaths occur all too frequently on job sites, in public buildings, and around swimming pools and other bodies of water near where electricity is provided, but just because your loved one’s death was an accident does not mean you aren’t still entitled to compensation for your losses. A wrongful death claim is a special type of lawsuit the victim’s estate and/or surviving family members can file against the person or party who is legally liable for the victim’s death. A wrongful death claim can be filed anytime a person dies as a result of another person or party’s negligence or misconduct.
Third-Party Negligence Claim
If your loved one was seriously injured or killed in an electrocution accident allegedly caused by the negligence of a third party, such as a general contractor on a construction site, or the manufacturer of a defective product or piece of electrical equipment, you may have a claim for third-party negligence. In terms of job-site accidents, these types of claims are handled differently than straight workers’ compensation claims, and it can be difficult knowing who is at fault and what you and your family may be entitled to in the aftermath of a loved one’s electrocution injury or fatality. We recommend contacting a knowledgeable attorney to discuss whether your claim fits within the parameters of third-party negligence, and if so, how to go about holding the negligent third party liable for damages.
Finding the Right Electrocution Accident Attorney
Electrical injuries and electrocutions are a complex form of trauma typically associated with serious bodily injury or death. Our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation understand how devastating electrical shock and electrocution accidents can be for victims and their loved ones and we are here to help. If you have suffered an electrocution injury because of another person’s error or because of faulty wiring, a defective product, exposed wires, fallen power lines, or some other kind of malfunctioning tool or equipment, contact us today to find out how to go about finding the right electrocution accident attorney to represent you in your case.
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