Electricity is all around us, powering outlets and devices that we use every day. Most of the time, these tools and appliances work without a hitch. It’s easy to forget that the electricity powering these devices is more than enough to be fatal, or could cause electrocution injuries, if it passes through the body in the right way and under the right circumstances.
These injuries can happen anywhere - at home, at school, or in the workplace. They may be caused by products that are poorly manufactured or designed, by negligent installation or maintenance of the electrical infrastructure, or by problems with overhead power lines.
Every year, thousands of people are injured or killed by electrocution. The injuries may be caused by faulty wiring, defective power tools, or poorly designed appliances. Regardless of the cause, the effects of electrocution injuries can be catastrophic.
How Do Electrocution Injuries Occur?
Electricity travels through a wire in a closed circuit. An electrical shock occurs when a person’s body comes in contact with the circuit. To complete the circuit, the person must somehow be touching both wires of the circuit, an energized wire and the ground, a metal part of a piece of equipment that is accidentally electrified, or some other conductor that is carrying an electrical current. When the electricity passes through the body, the circuit is completed and causes injury or, in severe cases, death.
Other times, the electrical current deviates from its intended path. This is called an arc flash. An arc flash creates a dangerous condition for people close by. An arc flash can happen quickly and with little warning, and the injuries can be severe. Arc flash injuries often occur in faulty or defective equipment. Many times, the product manufacturer knew the product was defective, but tried to hide the problem rather than recall the product or stop manufacturing it.
Common Causes of Electrocution Injuries
The most common cause of electrocution injuries at work is through contact with overhead power lines. These injuries typically occur when a worker touches an energized wire with a ladder, tool, or a part of a vehicle.
In addition to injuries caused by the electrical current passing through the body, electrocution can lead to fall injuries. When a person comes in contact with an electrical current, the muscles in the body contract violently. This can cause a person to lose their balance or be thrown away from the source of the electricity leading to head and neck injuries, back injuries, cuts, and lacerations.
The most common causes of electrocution injuries at home are faulty products and improper wiring.
Injuries Caused by Electrocution
Electric current passing through the body can result in electrical burns, arc burns, or thermal contact burns. Electrocution can also lead to difficulty breathing, confusion, loss of consciousness, and even cardiac arrest.
The severity of an electrocution injury depends on several factors, including the voltage, the length of exposure, the path the electrical current takes through the body, and the effectiveness of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves and shoes. Burns caused by electrocution are often severe, and require immediate medical attention. In the most severe cases, electrocution can lead to wrongful death.
Electrocution Brain Injuries
Electrical shock can also lead to brain injuries, either by causing damage to the central nervous system or as a secondary result after oxygen deprivation.
Brain injuries caused by electrical shock often affect large parts of the brain and cause severe, debilitating impairments that require extensive rehabilitation and, in some cases, lifelong care.
Electrical shock that injures the brain may lead to:
Balance and coordination problems
Short-term memory loss
Electrocution brain injuries can result in loss of consciousness and injuries that will require intensive in-patient care as patients will need to relearn basic skills to live independently again.
What To Do If You Suffered an Electrocution Injury
Electrocution injuries and electrical burns can be severe, and can result in lifelong complications. Faulty wiring and poorly designed or manufactured products can make workplaces and even your home unsafe.
If you suffered an electrocution injury or if someone you love was killed because of electrocution, an electrocution injury lawyer can help. You and your family may be entitled to compensation for:
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing insurance companies and corporate defendants at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help the families of people who have been injured or killed by the negligence of others.
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