Electrocution is one of the most serious threats to many workers’ lives. Electrocution occurs when an electrical current passes through the body. In some situations, electrocution injuries can be minor; however, they can also cause life-long injuries. In the most serious cases, an electrical current causes a person to go into cardiac arrest, ultimately resulting in their death.
Unlike other types of injuries that are easily understood, the dangers of electrocution hazards are quite complex. The severity of an electrical injury will generally depend on the type of current, the current’s strength, the length of time the current comes into contact with the body, and the body part’s resistance to electrical current.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), any hazard that exposes a worker to the following is classified as an electrical hazard:
- Arc flash,
- Fire, or
Everyone deals with electricity on a daily basis. However, the vast majority of these interactions are safe. The risk of electrical injury is greatest for construction workers and others who frequently work with electricity. In fact, according to OSHA, electrocution was the fifth leading cause of death among construction workers in 2005, causing 9% of all work-related fatalities.
The Most Common Electrocution Hazards
Given the severity of electrocution injuries and the frequency with which they occur, OSHA takes electrical safety very seriously. While there are many potential hazards that can result in electrocution, the most common electrocution hazards include the following.
Contact with Overhead Power Lines
Overhead power lines carry electricity across long distances. They are placed high in the air to prevent people from accidentally coming into contact with them, as they easily carry enough electricity to cause immediate death. While some overhead power lines are covered, the cover is designed to protect the line from the elements, not to protect workers from the lines.
Crane operators are the most likely workers to come into accidental contact with an overhead power line. However, any worker who is working near an overhead power line should be extremely careful to avoid even momentary contact with a live wire.
Contact with Electrical Sources
Coming into direct contact with an energized source is another major cause of electrical injury. An energized source could be a bare wire, defective tool, or frayed cord. When the body contacts an electrical source, it may become a part of the electrical circuit. This happens if someone touches both wires, completing the circuit, or if they touch one wire while they are also touching the ground or a metallic object. When this happens, the electricity travels through the body, causing severe damage.
Improper Use of Extension Cords
Extension cords are crucial to any construction project, allowing workers to use power tools away from the source of electricity. However, over time, the stress of the job can cause damage to cords. For example, extension cords are frequently damaged when run through windows, routed around sharp corners, or left out in the elements. If a damaged extension cord runs through a puddle of water, it can send a current through the water to any other object touching the water.
Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim After an Electrocution Injury
If you or a loved one suffered an electrocution injury, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, because most of the electrocution injuries in the United States occur at construction sites, there are few things you need to know about the recovery process.
In most workplace accidents, the default means of recovery is through a workers’ compensation claim. The workers’ compensation system allows injured workers to obtain benefits without needing to prove that someone else was at fault. However, the problem with workers’ comp claims is that they offer only limited benefits. Most importantly, you cannot obtain damages for any non-economic damages you sustained in the accident.
Non-economic damages are crucial to fairly compensating you for your injuries. For example, non-economic damages include amounts for your pain and suffering. They also take into account the non-monetary impact that the accident took on your life, such as any limitations you face due to your injuries.
While the state’s workers’ compensation laws often prevent you from suing an employer after an electrocution accident, you can pursue a claim against negligent parties other than your employer. For example, if another contractor negligently ran a damaged extension cord across a construction site, they could be liable for your injuries. To succeed in an electrocution injury claim, you must prove that the at-fault party owed you a duty of care, that they violated that duty, and that their breach of the duty caused your injuries. An experienced Kentucky construction injuries attorney can help you better understand the process of bringing a claim and work with you to ensure that you recover the damages you need to fairly compensate you for what you’ve been through.
Reach Out to the Kentucky Construction Injuries Lawyers at the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC
If you or a loved one recently suffered an electrocution injury while on the job, contact the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC for immediate assistance. For more than a decade, we’ve been representing workers and their families in cases stemming from serious workplace injuries. Our skilled negotiators routinely obtain favorable settlement offers on behalf of our clients. However, we are also aggressive litigators and will not hesitate to take a case to trial when the other side is unwilling to extend a fair offer. To learn more about the services we provide and to discuss how we can help with your case, give us a call to schedule a free consultation today. You can also reach us by completing our online form. We accept all construction accident cases on a contingency basis, meaning you will never pay any legal fees unless we can help you get the compensation you deserve.