Electric Shock Injuries and Electrocutions
Electrocutions represent 10 percent of all construction-related deaths, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which compiles and publishes statistics related to work-related injuries and safety violations. And for every fatality, every year there are literally thousands of serious and often disabling on-the-job injuries caused by both high and low voltage electrical shocks. Yet despite the fact that there are scores of state and federal workplace safety regulations that govern electrical work, electricity and electrical equipment, contractors continue to take short cuts and employees continue to be injured by electricity. Recent federal statistics show that failure to follow electrical safety rules ranks fifth on the top ten list of safety violations that are written up by safety inspectors each year.Electrical safety code violations threaten every worker on a job site
Electricians who regularly work with electricity are not the only workers being injured by electricity. Even a careful and safety conscious worker can sustain an electrical injury, since it is difficult and sometimes impossible for a worker to protect himself from a deadly, but unseen electrical current that is present in a place where it is not supposed to be present.
Sheet metal workers hanging ceiling ducts in a darkened room with no light fixtures can come into inadvertent contact with exposed and energized low voltage wires that the electricians should have been de-energized or covered with a non-conductive wire nut that would have cost the electrical contractor less than ten cents each. While the sheet metal workers will not die from a low voltage shock, the jolt of electricity will cause the sheet metal workers to fall off their ladders and land on the hard concrete floors far below. Carpenters can be shocked when working in inclement outdoor weather while using damaged extension cords. When they are shocked, the carpenters can be sliced or impaled by the very power tools that they are holding in their own hands. Laborers can be injured when vacuuming up interior debris while plugged into an improperly grounded circuit. When the labors are shocked, they can fall down stairways or into jagged debris. And workers of all trades can be badly burned, maimed or even killed when working in close proximity to electrical panels or electrical lines while using conductive tools or ladders.High voltage safety violations leave no forgiving margin of error
When it comes to high voltage panels, transmission devices, and lines, there is no forgiving margin of error, because even if a worker does not make contact with the high voltage panel, transmission device or line, if the worker even comes close – sometimes within inches, and sometimes within even a few feet -- to the high voltage panel, transmission device or line, the high voltage current will “arc.” When high voltage arcs, it jumps across thin air from the panel, transmission device or line to any conductive material that the worker is touching. Because this hazard is well known within the industry, contractors are required to evaluate all jobsites and develop site specific safety rules that either eliminate electrical hazards or keep workers completely away from electrical hazards that cannot be eliminated. But it is all too common for such high voltage devices to be left unmarked during early phases of construction, so a worker sent to clean up partially completed mechanical room, or even an electrician only qualified to work around low voltage equipment, may have no idea of the danger that lies just inches away from the task at hand.Shock induced injuries are varied and often debilitating
Those who are not killed outright when coming into contact with an electrical current often suffer from a myriad of impairments, depending on the severity of the electrical shock that they sustain. When an electrical current runs through the human body, it can cause one or more of the following medical problems:
- muscle damage due to the constrictions brought on during the shock;
- temporomandibular joint disorder caused by the jaw clenching brought on during the shock;
- brain and neurological damage caused by the current as it passes through the body;
- organ and tissue damage caused by the heat generated by the current as it passes through the body;
- third degree thermal contact burns caused by the “flash”/explosion produced during a high voltage electrical arc and from contact with it – such burns may not only lead to repeated and painful skin grafts, but to amputations and life threatening infections as well;
- deep and open wounds where the electrical current entered and exited the body (often the exit wound is on the bottom of a foot, which acts as the point of “grounding” if the person is standing up when contact is made with the current); and
- cardiac arrest and damage due to the electrical current passing through heart tissue and disrupting the heart’s normal electrical current and rhythm.
Moreover, people who are shocked lose control of their body and any tools, equipment or vehicles they are operating, so orthopedic injuries are a common consequence of an electrical shock, even if not directly caused by the electrical current. For instance, if cardiac arrest occurs, an electrical shock victim may stop breathing and suffer brain damage from hypoxia before being resuscitated. The list of possible physical injuries – not to mention the emotional trauma of being severely injured in such a frightening way – goes on and on. While injuries can and do occur on every type of job site, electrical injuries are among the worst of all injuries, and by and large they are entirely preventable.Successfully representing electrical injury victims requires legal skill and experience
The lawyers at Kraft Palmer Davies know the construction safety regulations concerning electricity and electrical equipment, and because they have handled electrical injury and electrocution cases over the course of their many years of practicing personal injury law, they know which experts to consult with during the investigation and litigation phases that are a part of each and every serious electrical injury or electrocution case. They also know the physical and emotional consequences that victims experience following an electrical shock, and are prepared to help the injury victim obtain the best medical care that the community has to offer, and have any permanent disabilities comprehensively evaluated.
Seeking immediate and continued medical attention for your electrical burns or injuries is a vital first step in the process of physical recovery. Seeking competent legal representation is a vital first step in the process of making a long term financial recovery. Workers’ compensation benefits may help you in the short term, but once you are through with treatment, the Department of Labor and Industries will start assessing your claim for possible closure. Even if you are found to be totally and permanently disabled, workers’ compensation benefits will only pay a fraction of your future wage loss. If your injuries were caused by the negligent failure of a construction contractor to follow simple government mandated electrical safety rules, that contractor should be responsible for your losses, not you.
Just as a hod carrier has no business being told to work on a high voltage electrical transformer, a lawyer who has no experience representing electrical injury victims has no business handling a serious electrical shock or electrocution case. The lawyers at Kraft Palmer Davies have spent their entire legal careers doing nothing but litigating personal injury cases, and we stick to what we know best. We don’t dabble in divorce cases or contract disputes or criminal matters or bankruptcies. That is something that every potential client should know about when hiring a lawyer, since every lawyer who accepts personal injury case will charge the client a contingent fee, whether the lawyer has any relevant experience or not. Why pay the same fee to an inexperienced lawyer when you can hire one with decades of relevant experience and a proven track record?Our law office is in Seattle, but we try cases all over Washington State
Kraft Palmer Davies is a Seattle-based law firm, but we represent injured workers from all over the state. We are qualified to practice law in every county and federal court in Washington. If you hire Kraft Palmer Davies, you will pay us no fee unless we win financial compensation for you!Call now for a free, no obligation consultation with an experienced lawyer
If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to an electricity-induced injury, you need to know your legal rights. To speak directly with an experienced lawyer, call Kraft Palmer Davies today at (206) 624-8844 or toll free at (800) 448-8008. We will provide you with a free, no obligation, initial consultation. Alternatively, you may email your inquiry to us by clicking here.