Electricity plays a crucial role in our day-to-day lives. Because the use of electricity is so prevalent, we may forget that it can also be extremely dangerous. Certain individuals such as construction workers and electricians face a high risk of sustaining serious injuries in electrocution accidents. But they are not the only ones in danger. Anyone can encounter a frayed or exposed extension cord or faulty electric outlet and suffer devastating injuries.
The injuries that a person suffers in an electrocution incident can be severe. They include burns, brain trauma and heart attacks. So, if you believe that someone else’s negligence caused you or a loved one to suffer harm in an electrocution accident, you should seek immediate help from an experienced personal injury lawyer at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.
For nearly four centuries, we have protected the rights of injury victims and their families throughout Illinois. In 238 cases, we have obtained a verdict or settlement of $1 million or more on behalf of our clients. We can provide an immediate, free consultation about your case through our state-of-the-art offices in Chicago and Waukegan. We will assess what happened to you and explain your legal options as we move forward.
Causes of Electrocution Accidents
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), most electrocution accidents involve one of three types of electrical sources:
- Power lines
- Energized equipment
- Damaged or improperly installed equipment.
The agency also notes that there are two ways of being electrocuted by one of these sources, namely through:
- Direct contact or contact with an intermediary object
- Indirect contact.
Of these two methods, direct contact through an intermediary object is perhaps the most common cause of electrocution accidents and occurs when a person touches energized equipment such as:
- Distribution box circuits
- Energized wire.
These objects are harmless when de-energized. However, they can become deadly conductors if power lines are suddenly re-energized due to negligent installation or improper maintenance.
Most electrocution victims are employees who are injured on the job while installing, maintaining, or servicing equipment and machinery. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that electrocution accidents are the third-highest cause of death for construction workers nationwide. This is primarily due to the fact that construction workers often use scaffolding, cranes, and metal ladders, all of which can bring them into contact with high voltage overhead power lines. Aside from direct contact with power lines, the most common causes of workplace electrocutions are:
- A lack of proper grounding protection
- Inadequate grounding of electrical equipment
- A failure to comply with manufacturer instructions
- Improper use of extension cords.
Although most electrocution injuries are sustained on worksites, other people can easily become electrocuted in seemingly safe areas if they come into contact with a defective household product or improper wiring. Poorly insulated wires and outlets are particularly dangerous if improperly grounded, especially to young children who are much more susceptible to serious injury from low voltages. Many electrocution accidents occur in swimming pools and can be linked to defective underwater lighting and improperly grounded vacuums.
What Happens in an Electrocution Accident?
Like power lines and metal, the human body is a great conductor of electricity. So, when a person is exposed to an electrical current, that current can travel through the body before exiting via a grounded surface or another electrical pathway. The extent of the resulting damage depends on a few different factors, including the:
- Current’s voltage
- Duration of electrical exposure
- Type of current
- Volume of current that passed through the body
- Path taken by the electrical current
- Amount of moisture present at the scene
- Victim’s age and general health.
Generally, the higher the voltage and the longer the exposure, the more damage an injured party can expect to suffer.
Types of Electrocution Injuries
Although human bodies are conductors, it does take a significant amount of energy to penetrate the skin, which has a relatively high resistance. For this reason, electrocution almost always results in the generation of heat where the electrical current entered and exited the body, causing both internal and external burns. Besides burns to the tissue at the current’s entry and exit sites, electrocution victims may also suffer extreme damage to the:
- Cardiovascular system
- Central nervous system
- Musculoskeletal system.
Damage to these body systems can have devastating consequences, including, but not limited to:
- Heart failure
- Internal burns
- Nerve damage resulting in a loss of sensation or movement
- Destruction of blood vessels, muscles, and tissue
- Traumatic brain injury from contact with the electrical current or from blunt force trauma if electrocution causes the victim to fall.
All of these injuries are severe and require immediate hospitalization and treatment. This treatment could take the form of atrial fibrillation, skin grafts, and surgery. Even after initial treatment, victims may also suffer from long-term consequences, such as scarring and disfigurement, paralysis, seizures, and difficulty speaking or moving. Many victims will require physical therapy and medication or lifelong assistance from breathing tubes, wheelchairs, and heart monitors.
Attempting to cover the cost of this type of treatment can quickly drive a family into debt. Fortunately, injured parties can potentially recover damages to compensate them for these costs if they can demonstrate that another person or entity was responsible for their accident.
Our Illinois Electrocution Lawyers Are Here for You
Since 1982, the personal injury attorneys of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. have fought for just compensation for injury victims and their families in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois. We have the knowledge and resources to help clients in a wide range of cases, including cases that involve injuries caused by an electrocution accident. We know how to tackle both the legal and medical issues that these cases present while pursuing the compensation that our clients deserve.
To find out more about how our legal team can help you with your own case, please contact us online today. We can provide a free consultation through our offices located in Chicago and Waukegan.