Electrocution accidents are those caused by sources of electricity. Some common examples of electrocution accidents include, but may not be limited to:
- Electric Shock: This accident occurs when an extremity comes in contact with an electrical current. An example of this would be when a person touches an electric fence with their hand;
- Electrical Burn: An electrical burn occurs when an electric shock is severe enough to cause the tissue to burn;
- Electrical Fire: These fires occur when an electrical current is what ignites a flammable material. An electrical fire is especially dangerous due to the fact that putting the fire out with water carries a higher risk of electric shock; and
- Other Electrocution Accidents: Electrocution accidents of various types can result in burns, brain damage, seizures, and death.
Some common examples of causes for electrocution or electrical accidents include:
- Outdated, substandard, or otherwise faulty electrical wiring;
- Electrical cords that are run improperly, such as under rugs or carpeting;
- Flammable materials being left exposed to electrical wiring, or other sources of electricity; and
- Lack of prevention, such as warning signs, grounding devices, etc.
Can I File A Lawsuit For An Electrocution Accident?
Whether you can file a lawsuit for an electrocution accident will depend on the manner in which you were electrocuted. If you have been injured in an electrocution accident, you may be able to file a claim for negligence. Negligence is a legal theory which allows injured parties to recover damages for injuries resulting from the carelessness of others. A person is considered to be negligent if they acted carelessly given the circumstances of the situation.
A specific example of this would be if you were injured after making contact with a power line. You may have a lawsuit against the public utility company for negligence. However, in order to hold a public utility company liable for their acts of negligence, you would first need to prove the following:
- The defendant, in this case the utility company, owed a duty of care to you;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- That breach is what caused the accident; and
- You were injured as a result of the accident that was caused by the defendant’s breach of their duty of care.
The utility company owes a duty of care to all, to install and maintain power lines safely. If they fail to maintain this duty, the utility company will have breached their duty and could be held liable for any injuries resulting from the unsafe conditions created by their failure. Some examples of unsafe conditions include, but may not be limited to:
- High voltage contained within the power lines;
- Lack of insulation in the power lines;
- Failure to post obvious and visible signs and warnings near the power lines; and
- Installing power lines in an inherently dangerous location.
Another instance in which you could sue for negligence would be if a third-party or a natural disaster caused power lines to become dangerous, such as falling into the street below. The public utility company may still be held liable, if the utility company had knowledge of the dangerous situation but failed to repair it in a timely manner.
Additionally, if you were electrocuted by a power line while on the job, you may have grounds to file a worker’s compensation claim against your employer. Electrocution accidents are just one example of construction accidents that frequently occur.
Some other examples of the types of lawsuits you may bring for electrocution accidents include:
- Electric Wiring: If an electrocution accident occurs as a result of faulty wiring in your home, you may be able to file a negligence claim against the builder of your home. Alternatively, you may be able to file a negligence claim against an electrician who previously performed electrical work on your home;
- Faulty Product: You may have a product liability claim if you were injured because of a product that malfunctioned. The manufacturer of the faulty product may be held liable. An example of this would be if you were electrocuted by a hair dryer. The manufacturer of the hair dryer may be held liable for your injuries, or the retailer who sold the fault product. Another example is if you were electrocuted by a product that is advertised as being waterproof, or for use in the water. If such a product then electrocutes you, you would have a claim against the designer/manufacturer, the wholesaler, or the merchant that sold you the product; and/or
- Wrongful Death: In some especially serious and tragic incidents, an electrocution accident can result in the victim’s death. If someone has died from being electrocuted, their surviving family may be able to file a wrongful death suit. The purpose of bringing such a suit on behalf of the deceased is to recover a damages award to cover funeral costs, medical bills, and loss of companionship.
What Are Some Common Legal Remedies For Electrocution Accidents?
As previously mentioned, electrocution accidents are generally categorized as negligence issues. Cases of negligence are governed by personal injury law. An injured plaintiff who is able to prove that a defendant is liable will most likely be entitled to compensatory damages. Additionally, there are two types of compensatory damages; these types are known as general damages, and specific damages.
General damages are awarded for the injury itself. These damages are intended to compensate the victim for:
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish; and
General damages are usually awarded for losses that are not quantifiable. What this means is that these losses cannot easily be assigned monetary value. As such, in order to recover such damages, an expert’s testimony will be necessary to assign a monetary value. An example of an expert would be a physician, or a psychiatrist.
Special damages intend to compensate the victim for a specific consequence of an injury. An example of this would be medical expenses. Special damages may also be awarded in order to compensate for a loss of wages. These are items which can be assigned a specific monetary value.
In order to be awarded compensatory damages, the plaintiff will be required to prove that a loss has in fact occurred. Additionally, they must prove that the loss was caused by the other party; meaning, they must show that the defendant’s conduct is what actually caused the loss or injury, and no other factors contributed to the accident or injury.
Some examples of evidence that should be collected in order to support your claim include, but may not be limited to:
- Statements from any witnesses;
- Photos or video from the accident or incident;
- Medical bills;
- Police records; and
- Physical evidence, such as burn marks.
Do I Need an Attorney For an Electrocution Accident?
If you have been involved in an electrocution accident, you should consult with an experienced and local personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. State laws associated with personal injury, negligence, and worker’s compensation can vary widely. Thus, an experienced and local personal injury attorney will be best suited to helping you understand your state’s laws, as well as what your legal options are. If you have lost a loved one in an electrocution accident, a personal injury lawyer can file a wrongful death claim on their behalf.
Your personal injury lawyer can also help you determine who you should sue for negligence, as well as gather evidence to support your claim. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed, while protecting your legal rights and working towards a suitable damages award to compensate you for your injuries and/or losses.