Common Electrical Accidents
In order to avoid accidental electrocution, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established standards necessary for appropriate work to be completed at construction sites.
Specifically in regards to crane usage, the OSHA explains that unless lines have been “de-energized and visibly grounded” or standalone, unattached insulating barriers have been put up to prevent contact with the lines, certain criteria need to be established.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that contact with overhead power lines is the most common cause of electrocutions, resulting in over 40 percent of all on-the-job electrical deaths. Other causes of injuries and fatalities include the following:
- Failure to properly de-energize electrical equipment prior to commencing work
- Contact with electrical components mistakenly thought to be de-energized due to a mistake in wiring or re-wiring, or misidentified wiring
- Contact with buried, underground power lines
- Contact with the electric current of a machine, tool, appliance or light fixture
- Contact with wiring, transformers or other electrical components
Other common causes of electrical injury often fall under the following categories:
The Lyon Firm has experience developing evidence in electrical injury cases in Ohio through the use of life care planners, economists, and medical professionals to present the highest quality arguments on the plaintiff’s behalf.
This work has resulted in significant settlements that enhanced and secured a dignified quality of life for the plaintiff’s future.
Types of Electrical Burn Injury
Direct contact with an electrical wire sends a heavy current flowing through the body. This can result in massive tissue damage and patients are at risk of developing multi-system organ failure. Electricity passes easily though the human body, and even minor burns can result in damage to vital organs like the heart or brain.
Typically, the extent of injury is determined by the intensity of the electrical current contacted. The long-term prognosis depends on the severity of the initial injury and the development of subsequent complications. Common injuries include the following heart injuries, tissue degeneration, and severe burns.
- Electrical heart injury—Electrical shock can interfere with the heart’s regular current and cells. In severe cases, cardiac arrest (heart attack) can occur.
- Contact (Internal) Electrical Burn Injuries—some electrical burns may not look severe on the outside though significant internal damage occurred. Contact electrical burns occur when the electricity arcing inside the body is converted to heat. This heat commonly follows the current flow, which typically is along blood vessels and nerves. Electrical burns are usually located at the entry and exit points of the voltage.
- Myoglobinemia—In addition to organ tissue damage from electrical burns, a secondary injury of an electrical burn may produce excess levels of myoglobin in the blood, and may lead to acute renal failure (kidney failure).
External Arc Flashes and Explosions
When an electrical current jumps between two different points, it is called an “arc flash.” Workplace electrical accidents occur when arcing faults (caused by tears or gaps in insulation) allow an electrical current to stray from its intended path. Arc flashes can ignite flammable clothing and materials, the latter allowing an arc flash’s electrical explosion to become a chemical explosion.
About ten arc flashes occur on work sites every day in the United States. These electrical accidents pose workplace burn injury dangers to all electricians, factory workers, or construction workers near the arc. Serious injuries may result from the high levels of heat and intense pressure associated with the arc flash.
Contact an Electrical Burn Injury Lawyer
Following an electrical injury where you suspect there was negligence or simply have questions about what may have happened, you should contact and experienced catastrophic injury and product liability lawyer.
An electrical injury may have a long lasting impact and should be addressed by a lawyer qualified in complex personal injury matters. The legal recourses from an accident will depend on what caused the electrical injury.
The injury may have been caused by a defective product, mismanagement, or independent contractor negligence during industrial or construction work. A subcontractor or third party defendant may also be subject to general negligence.
In addition to Worker’s Compensation, a victim may deserve further compensation for pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, lost past and future wages, and loss of quality of life.
The legal options will depend on what caused the electrical injury. In any case, these injuries are too serious for the injured party to negotiate a fair and comprehensive settlement without an attorney. The interplay of complex liability questions, subrogation, and possible future life care plans require the attention of an attorney experienced in spinal cord injury lawsuits.
There are personal injury cases where an attorney may not be necessary, but an electrical injury will may long lasting impact and should be addressed by a lawyer qualified in complex personal injury matters.
Product Liability: Where the injury was caused by a defective product, the litigation path is expensive and complex. The attorney will need to evaluate the viability of the defendant and cost to prove the case through expert testimony. Product liability cases can be some of the most expensive types of litigation, but where there is a viable defendant, the cases should be evaluated carefully to determine if a defective product caused the electrical injury.
Industrial/ Construction Accidents: Many electrical injuries are a result of mismanagement or independent contractor negligence during industrial or construction work. The first step is whether the case is limited to Worker’s Compensation. This analysis requires a thorough understanding of Employer Intentional Tort law which has become more difficult in recent years.
Often, where the employer is at fault, the case requires a removal of an equipment safety guard or a knowing violation of an OSHA regulation to move past a motion for summary judgment. A subcontractor or third party defendant, however, is subject to general negligence.
- Ladders shall have non-conductive side rails if they are used where the employee or the ladder could contact exposed electrical equipment.
- Portable metal or conductive ladders shall not be used near energized lines or equipment except as may be necessary in specialized work such as in high voltage substations where non-conductive ladders might present a greater hazards than conductive ladders.
- Conductive or metal ladders shall be prominently marked as conductive and all necessary precautions shall be taken when used in specialized work.
Electrical Injury Settlements
Accidental Electrocution injuries and deaths are some of the most tragic and preventable construction accidents. Poor site design, equipment misuse, and often simple inattention can lead to severe injuries and death due to contact with electrical wires. In fact, accidental electrocution is the fourth most common cause of death for construction workers.
Over the course of 12 years, a study conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrated that 143 construction workers die annually as a direct result of accidental electrocution.
However, deaths secondarily related to accidental electrocution – such as burns or falls – on construction sites are numbered as high as 400 per year. Construction sites can be a dangerous place for workers, especially if they are not necessary specialized as electricians.
Provided the burden of proof is surmounted, Ohio provides substantial monetary compensation for electrical injuries. Ohio has damages cap on certain personal injury awards but those damages caps generally do not apply in electrical injury cases. Compensation may be awarded for the following elements where the evidence supports the elements:
- Past Physical Pain and Suffering
- Past Mental Pain and Suffering
- Past Lost of Enjoyment of Life
- Past Medical Expenses
- Past Lost Wages
- Future Physical Pain and Suffering
- Future Mental Pain and Suffering
- Future Medical Expenses
- Future Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Future Lost Wages or Loss of Earning Capacity
- Life Care Plans (home or vehicle improvements)
- Spousal Loss of Consortium (if applicable)
- Parental Loss of Consortium (if applicable)
Ohio Wrongful Death Compensation
Many electrical injuries sadly result in victim suffering terminal injuries. The Ohio Wrongful Death Statute (R.C. 2125: Action for Wrongful Death) allows a lawsuit to be brought by a beneficiary on behalf of the decedent and his or her Estate. The following separate damages may be recoverable depending on the facts in the case.
- Loss of support from the reasonably expected earning capacity of the decedent
- Loss of services of the decedent
- Loss of society of the decedent (loss of companionship, consortium, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, and education)
- Loss of prospective inheritance
- Mental Anguish
Ohio Electrical Injury Lawsuits
The settlement value will depend on a number of variables. No electrical injury lawsuit is exactly the same and each case will require an evaluation of the following variables.
As the evidence is developed, some aspects may become stronger and some weaker, and the lawyer must re-evaluate the case each step of the way. The following a list of variables that must be considered in every spinal cord injury settlement process:
- The venue where the trial will occur
- The Judge
- Whether any issues exist that could result in a Motion for Summary Judgment being granted and the chance of such a motion being granted
- The existence of pre-existing conditions that limited the quality of life
- The credibility of the plaintiff
- The credibility of the defendant
- Whether the independent treating physician is supportive of the case
- Whether other events may have caused or contributed to the injury
- The amount of subrogation
- The expenses to take the case to trial
- The chance of success at trial
- The verdict range with a successful verdict
- Whether a settlement will adequately care for the Plaintiff in the future
- Whether the Plaintiff has suffered a permanent injury
- Whether damages caps apply
- Whether settlement will fairly compensate the Plaintiff while reducing the risk and cost of additional litigation.