When an electrical current makes contact with a human body, the current finds a pathway through the body – typically entering at the source of contact and exiting to a grounded surface or another electrical pathway. The extent of the damage inflected by the electrical shock depends on a few factors, including the voltage of the current, the pathway chosen by the current, and the amount of time the current remains in the body.
Should you survive contact with an electrical source, you may suffer from long-lasting or even permanent damage. An electrical current can cause burns to bodily tissue when it enters and exits the body as well as internal burns as it travels through the body. It may also affect the cardiovascular system, central nervous system, or musculoskeletal system, causing heart damage (a common cause of death in fatal electrical shocks), seizures, paralysis, respiratory failure, nerve damage, and more. If an electrical shock causes the victim to fall, other types of injuries may occur.
In many cases, electrical accidents are the result of negligence, with common causes including defective products, unsafe property conditions, labor law violations, and improper handling of equipment at work sites. Occupations especially prone to electrical injuries include construction workers, electricians, roofers, carpenters, maintenance workers, cable installers, tree trimmers, landscapers, mechanics, meter readers, welders, and equipment operators. Electrocution is actually the third-leading cause of death in the construction industry.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the following are the most common causes of electrocutions and other electrical injuries and fatalities in the workplace:
Electrical injuries can also occur at home and in commercial spaces through contact with electrical appliances and electrical outlets. Although electrical shocks at home generally involve low-voltage currents, they may cause burns, muscle damage, and nerve damage. They’re typically the result of defective products or unsafe property conditions and may involve exposed wires, electrical outlets in unsafe locations, faulty wiring, shorts in appliances due to manufacturing defects, or malfunctioning commercial equipment.
When an electrical injury occurs at work, employees may file for workers’ compensation benefits with their employers. In certain situations, however, employees may also choose to contact an electrical injury lawyer experienced in electrical injury claims. For example, if a third-party contributes to a work-related injury, the injured employee may pursue a lawsuit against that third-party to recover further damages. This might occur if a third-party contractor (employed by another company) creates an unsafe work environment or defective equipment is present at a construction site.
Every case is unique, so your electrical injury lawyer will investigate your accident to determine which parties may be held partially or fully liable for the electrical shock. You may have a claim against a public utility company, a property owner, a general contractor, a building owner, or the manufacturer or distributor of a defective product involved in the accident.
What types of compensation will be involved? You may pursue compensation for all accident-related expenses, both economic and non-economic. These may include medical bills, lost wages (past and future), loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. After a lethal electrical shock, the victim’s family may pursue compensation for wrongful death.