Contrary to popular belief, power lines are not insulated. Overhead power lines are so high above the ground that insulating them would be unnecessarily costly. So, when a power line falls to the ground, it can be nothing short of deadly.
A downed power line can cause severe electrical injuries to anyone standing just a few meters from it. In worst cases, power lines can lead to such a severe electrical shock that it kills a person within minutes.
If you or a loved one fell victim to a downed power line, you could file a personal injury lawsuit against the people that are supposed to prevent that from happening.
Seek justice for your Illinois power line accident by calling the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC at 888) 424-5757 or fill out this online contact form to schedule a free consultation to determine your legal rights related to a Chicago power line injury lawsuit.
What Can Cause a Downed Power Line?
A power line accident can happen in many ways. The following are some of the most common scenarios that lead to downed power lines:
- Inclement Weather: High winds, intense storms, hail, lightning, and tornadoes can knock a power line off its post. In some cases, extreme weather can take out electrical posts entirely.
- Falling Trees: Trees falling due to bad weather or rot can damage power lines in their path.
- Car Accidents: When vehicles hit an electrical post, the impact can be so severe that the power lines get knocked out. A downed power line coming into contact with a car can also energize the vehicle as it is made of metal.
- Defects and Lack of Maintenance: An improperly installed or maintained power line has more chances of falling in inclement weather or a collision accident.
- Falling Objects: If the power lines are situated below a construction site, falling debris can knock them out and instantly cause a hazard to anyone on the ground below.
Common Electrical Injuries
Power lines can carry more than 700,000 volts. And as conductors, an electric current flows through our tissues when we come into contact with live electricity, causing an electric shock.
Electric shock can prevent a person from breathing, keep the heart from beating properly, cause muscle spasms, or all of the above. The severity of an electric shock depends on:
- The body part involved
- How wet or damp the person is
- How long the current flowed through their body
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), common injuries resulting from downed power lines include:
- Electrical Burns: An electrical current heats tissue as it passes through the body. This heat can lead to deep burns that may require surgery and cause disability. Burns are more common in electrical accidents involving high voltages, such as power line accidents.
- Loss of Muscle Control: A victim of an electrical accident may experience muscle spasms that can be intense enough to dislocate or break bones. This muscle control loss is why most electrical shock victims cannot let go of the source of electrocution.
- Cardiac Arrest: A voltage as low as 50 mA can cause cardiac arrest if it passes through the heart. Severe cases of cardiac arrest can lead to instant death.
- Organ Damage: Similar to how an electric current causes damage to the heart, it can also damage other internal organs as it passes through the body.
Severe electric shock can cause a swift yet painful death. Even if the person survives, they may face serious complications, such as burns, heart rhythm problems, seizures, and extreme pain.
Seeking Justice For Power Line Injuries
A power line injury can be excruciating and often fatal. For this reason, it is crucial for electrical companies to inspect, repair, and replace their power lines regularly. Failure to do so means breaching the duty of care they owe to the public, which can serve as grounds for a personal injury claim.
If you or a family member were injured in a power line accident resulting from someone else’s negligence, you have the legal right to seek compensation for your damages. You can do so by filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the company.
Electrical companies often settle claims out of court. If you do not want to accept the settlement, you might be able to pursue the case in court with the help of a personal injury attorney.
Depending on the situation, there may be multiple parties at fault for the accident, including:
- The Electrical Company: If your injury resulted from the failure of the electrical company to maintain their power lines, they might be held entirely liable for your case.
- Another Driver: In a motor vehicle accident leading to a downed power line and resulting in electrical injuries, you may also be able to hold the driver at fault accountable.
- The Property Owner: If an object from someone’s property (e.g., trees, billboards) falls on a power line and causes your accident, you might be able to sue them for damages. The term property owner may refer to a business, a landlord, a homeowner, or a government entity.
- The Government: If you are injured by a power line owned and controlled by the government, the government entity might be held liable in court.
- Your Employer: Any business or employer is expected to provide a safe working environment to all workers. You may also hold your employer accountable if you were injured on the job due to a faulty power line on the work site.
The Statute of Limitations
Power line accident injury victims have six months to file a case against government entities. For any other party, the time limit to file a lawsuit is two years.
Contacting an attorney as soon as possible is crucial for the success of your case. You may be able to receive more money in compensation if the evidence is fresh and more challenging to dispute by the other party’s lawyer.
By filing a lawsuit against the negligent party, you or your loved one could claim compensation for the following:
- Medical Bills: Electrical injuries often require medical attention, leading to significant expenses for emergency transport, medication, surgery, hospitalization, and other costs.
- Pain and Suffering: Electric shock and burns can be excruciating. Aside from that, the trauma from the incident can cause you mental anguish and emotional distress. Your lawyer can prove your pain and suffering by presenting psychiatric records, medical records, and photo evidence of your injuries.
- Lost Income: You may also be able to sue the negligent party for the income you’ve lost due to your injuries. Lost income may include wages, bonuses, and commissions.
- Wrongful Death: If you’ve lost a loved one due to an accident, you could file a wrongful death case to recover compensation for medical treatment, funeral costs, and non-economic damages such as loss of consortium.
- Scarring and Disfigurement: Electrical burns can lead to significant scars, which could add value to your compensation. Facial and mobility-limiting scars are typically worth the most.
Contact a lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC by calling (888) 424-5757 to determine the damages you can include in your claim or lawsuit. We represent clients with legal issues just like yours.
The Role of Your Attorney
Attorneys protect the rights of victims injured by another’s negligence. A personal injury lawyer can help you:
- Investigate how and why you were injured
- Determine the extent and value of your losses
- Negotiate with insurance companies
- File your lawsuit in court
- Find ways to maximize your settlement or verdict
A lawsuit is not always necessary regarding power line injuries, but having an experienced lawyer by your side makes a huge difference.
Safety Tips Against Downed Power Lines
If you come across a downed power line, here’s what you need to do:
- Assume all downed power lines are live.
- Carefully move away from the power line and anything touching it. Objects can become energized with direct or indirect contact with the power line.
- Shuffle away from the power line with small steps while keeping your feet together, which will help minimize the risk of a strong electric shock.
- Do NOT move a power line or an object in contact with it. Non-conductive materials like fabric or wood can conduct electricity if slightly damp.
- Do not drive over downed power lines.
- If your car comes in contact with a power line while you are inside, do not leave the vehicle. Call 911 immediately. If you don’t have phone signal, honk your horn to call for help, but tell others to stay away from your vehicle.
- If you must escape from your car because it is on fire, jump out of your car with both feet together if you are able. Avoid contact with both your vehicle and the ground at the same time. Shuffle away with small steps until you reach safety (at least 35 feet away).
Start An Attorney-Client Relationship With One of Our Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys
Any entity controlling or owning property near a power line is responsible for preventing a dangerous situation that may put others at risk. So, if you sustain a power line injury due to someone else’s negligence, you might be entitled to financial compensation.
Contact our attorneys at our Chicago law firm by calling (888) 424-5757 today. Our lawyers offer a free consultation anytime to discuss your case. Moreover, our attorney services are free unless we win your case, meaning you don’t have to pay unless you recover compensation.