Electric Shock and Electrocution Accidents

Injuries from electric shock and fatal electrocution accidents are not unusual. In New York, if a loved one has died from electrocution or you have suffered serious injury from electric shock — due to someone’s negligence — a lawsuit can help compensate you or your family.
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Studies indicate 1,000 people a year are killed in the U.S. by electrocution. “Most of these deaths are related to on-the-job injuries.” (1)

Electricity exposure in the home is even more concerning since it frequently affects children. For children under the age of 12, one study found “household appliance electrical cords and extension cords caused more than 63% of injuries… Wall outlets were responsible for 15% of injuries.” (2)

Workplace Electrical Accidents

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), a nonprofit safety advocacy group, 54% of electrical fatalities occurred in the construction industry. Additionally, 2018 electrical fatalities increased by 18% over 2017. (3)

“Contact with/Exposure to electric current accounted for 3% of all fatalities in 2018,” according to ESFI. (4)

ESFI reports the leading primary sources of fatal occupational electrical injuries were from: (5)

  • 41% — parts and materials; 36% were machine tool and electric parts.
  • 17% — tool, instruments, and equipment.
  • 14% — machinery.
  • 14% — vehicles.

However, electric shock and electrocution accidents happen at home or in non-work related activities. It is important to know what causes these accidents.

Were you or a loved one injured in an electrical accident? You may be eligible for compensation.

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Causes of Non-Occupational Electric Shock

Electric shock accidents, especially in the home or in connection with non-work related activities, stem from: (6)

  • Faulty appliances sold to consumers have led to serious injuries. Manufacturers may be held accountable for the injuries their defective products cause.
  • Damaged or frayed cords can cause electrical shocks if they are not in good condition and do not work as they should.
  • Contact with water can result in electric shocks from appliances if this occurs and could indicate a lack of functioning safety features.
  • Household wiring should be checked or fixed by a licensed electrician to ensure it is operating correctly. Electricians can determine if the electrical system or your home’s wiring is faulty.
  • Downed power lines due to a storm or an accident should be reported to the utility company. Once reported, the company can be held responsible for any injuries if it does nothing about the problem or any response is delayed.
  • Lightning strikes during storms are always a threat. Anyone at a pool or on the beach is at risk of being struck. Lifeguards have a responsibility to get people to safety. If campers are left outside during a lightning storm, they could be seriously injured; the same holds true on golf courses and ball fields. These situations can be grounds for a lawsuit if facility management does not enforce safety precautions.

Job Related Activities Have Electrocution Risks

The highest number of deaths associated with electrical accidents occurs among workers performing job related activities.

According to a 2015 Fire Protection Research Foundation report, electrical fatalities occurred while workers performed activities such as: (7)

  • 66% — constructing, cleaning, or repairing.
  • 20% — operating tools or machinery.
  • 8% — handling materials.
  • 3% — physical activities.
  • 3% — vehicular or transport operations.

When electrical shock or electrocution accidents occur on a job site, employers may be held accountable for violations of any Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards related to the accident.

Manufacturers can be liable for faulty or defective parts and equipment. Even coworkers may be held accountable for actions putting themselves or others at risk.

What leads to these occupational electrical accidents can vary.

Electrician fixing wires in wall of house

Common Causes of Occupational Electrocution

Occupational electrocutions are frequently the result of exposure to electrical sources, or coming in contact with power lines.

A report on worker electrocutions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, “The specific hazards involved in these electrocutions include internal wiring in farm buildings, buried electrical cables, and overhead powerlines.” (8)

Many workers have been electrocuted when they came into contact with vehicles or equipment that are also in contact with an energized power source. Boomed vehicles can be extremely dangerous.

The study reports electrocutions among construction workers for reasons such as: (9)

  • Absence of required personal protective equipment, e.g., gloves, sleeves, mats, and blankets — employers must provide this protective equipment and can be held liable if they do not.
  • Improperly installed wires or equipment.
  • Ladders or scaffolding that are energized.
  • Boomed vehicles also in contact with an energized source.
  • Trucks or vehicles other than boom vehicles that are energized.
  • Grain augers or elevators that are energized.

Contact with energized sources may result in a variety of serious injuries.

Electric Shock Injuries

Some of the serious injuries sustained from electric shock include: (10)

  • Cardiac arrest (heart attack).
  • Muscle, nerve, and tissue damage from current passing through your body.
  • Thermal burns near the entry and exit points of electricity flowing through your body.
  • Falling injuries after receiving an electrical shock.

Electrical shock injuries are complex. Recovery from serious electrical shock injuries can take weeks, months, or even years. Treatment can be expensive, and some damage may be permanent.

What to Do If You Have Been Injured

The first step to take when someone is suffering an electrical shock is to separate the victim from the electrical contact point, or turn off the electrical flow without touching the victim.

Push them off or away from the electrical source using something that does not conduct electricity, such as a wooden stick or pole. Then look for the symptoms of injury: (11) (12)

  • Breathing problems or not breathing at all.
  • Burns.
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Seizures.
  • Hearing, speech, or vision problems.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Confusion.
  • Weak or erratic pulse.

Seek immediate medical attention, in an emergency room, for any of these symptoms. An emergency room visit helps document injuries should you decide to pursue legal action later.

If you have sustained serious electric shock injuries requiring extensive and lengthy treatment in New York, contact an attorney as soon as you are able.

An attorney can help you handle insurance claims, guide you through the legal process, and help secure compensation for you and your family from the person, company, or product responsible for your injuries.

If you or someone you know was injured in an electrical accident, a lawsuit can help get the compensation you deserve.

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How Weitz & Luxenberg Can Help

Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys have years of experience in personal injury claims. Thousands of our clients have benefited from our experience.

Some of the cases where we have helped clients recover compensation due them include:

  • $10 million for a teenage boy blinded in one eye from a negligently designed bungee cord system.
  • $2.96 million for a worker’s amputated leg by a coworker’s negligent driving of a hi-lo into a conveyor belt pit — a pit that had inadequate barriers for vehicles.

  1. WebMD. (2020, May 30).Electric Shock. Electric Shock Overview. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/electric-shock#1-2
  2. Ibid.
  3. Electrical Safety Foundation International. (n.d.). Workplace Injury & Fatality Statistics. Occupational Injury and Fatality Statistics. https://www.esfi.org/workplace-injury-and-fatality-statistics
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Better Health Channel. (2014, August). Electric Shock. Retrieved from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/electric-shock
  7. Fire Protection Research Foundation. (2015, March). Occupational Injuries From Electrical Shock and Arc Flash Events. Retrieved from https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/Electrical/RFArcFlashOccData.ashx?la=en
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1998, May). Worker Deaths By Electrocution. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/98-131/pdfs/98-131.pdf
  9. Ibid.
  10. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. (2020, October 8). Electrical Injury. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000053.htm
  11. Better Health Channel. (2014, August). Electric Shock. Retrieved from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/electric-shock
  12. WebMD. (2020, May 30). Electric Shock Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/electric-shock#2

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