Electrical injuries cause about 1,000 fatalities every year and an estimated 3,000 admissions to burn centers each year. The human body conducts electricity very well. Electricity can pass very easily throughout the body and cause both internal and external damage. Cardiac arrest can occur, muscles, nerves and tissues can be damages and thermal burns can occur from contact with the electrical source. Some electrocutions are immediately fatal. As a matter of fact, up to 40 percent of severe electrical injuries are fatal.
Classification of Electrocutions
Electrocutions fall into four groups – true electrical injuries, flash injuries, flame injuries and lightning injuries. With true electrical injures, the individual becomes part of the electrical circuit, and there is an entrance and exit site. Flash injuries are superficial burns, and no electrical energy passes through the skin. Flame injuries result from the ignition of the person’s clothing. The electricity may or may not pass through the individual’s body. Lightning injuries occur and very high voltages for a short period. Most of the electricity flows over the individual’s body.
Causes and Pathophysiology of Electrocutions
About 20 percent of all electrical injuries occur in children. Most happen at home with wall outlets and extension cords. In adults, most electrical injuries occur in the workplace. Most high-voltage injuries are job related. Occupational electrocutions are a result from power line contact and from using machines or electrical tools.
The degree of injury from an electrocution depends on the magnitude of electrical energy delivered, type of current, resistance encountered, current pathway and duration of contact. Electric shock is either high voltage or low voltage, with high voltage causing higher morbidity and mortality. AC current is more dangerous than DC current. This is because it may cause multiple tetanic muscle contractions, which increases the duration of electrical delivery. On the flip side, DC typically causes just one muscle contraction and thrusts the person from the source.
Skin is the most resistant against electrical current, and nerve tissue is the least resistant. The current pathway determines what tissues are at risk. Electrical current that passes through the head or thorax is more likely to cause direct cardiac damage, brain injury, paralysis and death.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Due to Electrocution Injury
Often, human error is the main cause of electrical shocks and electrocution. Failure to follow safety regulations, defective appliances and motors, faulty wiring and improper maintenance practices fall under negligence. Electrical shock and electrocution cases may also involve theories of products liability from the defective design of a product. These factors can create a deadly trap for an electrocution injury. Proving mechanical malfunction or negligence in a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit is a meticulous process and must be scientifically supported with data.
As in other types of personal injury cases, the elements of negligence must be established in electrical shock claims and electrocution claims. This includes establishing that a duty of care existed, that duty was breached and the party’s negligence was the direct cause of your injuries. Compensation for damages includes medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and loss in earning capacity, loss of companionship and more.
If an electrical injury or electrocution occurred on the job, it may be a workers’ compensation case. However, if a third party caused the work-related injury, the injured worker can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against that third party for compensation of damages. For example, an independent contractor who installs wiring negligently and causes injury to worker employed by a different contractor is held liable.
An experienced law firm in personal injury will work closely with electrical engineers and other professionals in addition to completing a scene investigation to determine the cause of the incident and the parties responsible. An experienced law firm will also provide expert witnesses to support your claim. Other types of evidence needed to establish liability include medical reports, proof of lost wages and eyewitness testimony.
If you or a loved one has incurred an electrical shock injury or electrocution, call our firm today for a free legal review. Our law firm has a track record of success in handling electrocution cases. Let our experience work for you and get the compensation you deserve.