Chicago Electrocution Accident Lawyer
Electrocution is a common risk at construction sites and one of the leading causes of workplace deaths. Live wires, open electrical panels, and accessible high wires At construction sites present risks of electrocution for workers, contractors, and others.
Electrical shock and electrocution can be severe injuries and, when it is not fatal, can leave the victim with critical and permanent damages. In many cases, electrocution happens through employer negligence by failing to follow the rules.
If you or a loved one were injured by electrocution or electrical shock, you might have legal recourse for financial compensation against the party. The Chicago electrocution accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are experienced advocates in helping their clients file legal claims to recover for these injuries.
Our law office currently represents clients throughout Illinois, including in Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Will County, Chicago, Elgin, Joliet, and Waukegan.
Electrocution Accident Injury FAQs
What is Electrocution?
Electrocution occurs when a person makes contact with an energized high-voltage electrical source. Electrocution occurs when the current makes its way through the human body and causes a violent response.
Electricity will primarily damage and destroy human tissue in the body. The injury happens because the human body will serve as a conductor of the electricity when there is human contact with both the electrical source and another source such as the ground at the same time.
The human body is especially vulnerable to electricity and does not take much electrical current to cause damage and injury. While the skin can sometimes protect the body against electricity, when the current penetrates the skin and enters the body, people are vulnerable to serious injury. The electricity can generally break down the skin's resistance when the voltage exceeds 500 Volts.
What Injuries can You get From the Electric Shock?
Even a mild jolt of electrical current can cause severe injuries that might include cardiac arrest due to the sudden electrical impact to the heart. Some individuals suffer the destruction of tissue, nerve, and muscle when the electrical current passes through the victim's body.
Deep tissue thermal burns can also occur when the electric current contacts with the victim's skin. Others suffer severe injuries from falling after contacting the electrical source.
What Happens if You Accidentally Electrocute Yourself?
Compartment syndrome is a related injury to electrical shock. The dangerous, painful condition develops when tissue swells or internal bleeding builds up the pressure after a jolt of electricity.
Without effective treatment, compartment syndrome might compress the victim's arteries, causing other severe health issues. Compartment syndrome is not always diagnosed immediately after an electrical shock event.
Doctors often diagnose the condition after an electrical shock by evaluating mobility, swelling, and bleeding in the victim's legs and arms.
How do People Die From Electric Shock?
An intense electrical shock (electrocution) to the victim's body can cause significant damage to tissue, organs, arteries, and veins. Even a small current of electricity can produce cardiac arrest if an electrical shock passes through the organ. Electrical impulses controlled by the brain create a rhythmic heartbeat.
Any disruption in the electrical impulse can disrupt heartbeat rhythm leading to serious heart problems and potential death. According to the National Safety Council, more than 1000 individuals die every year in America from electrocution.
Can You get Brain Damage From Electric Shock?
Researchers have shown that contact with 120 volts to 52,000 volts can create a life-threatening electric shock. The electrical shock can produce neurological and neuropsychological issues that alter the victim's well-being.
In some cases, the electric shock injury causes behavioral and emotional aftereffects that might involve brain damage leading to depression and memory loss.
Can Electric Shock Kill You Later?
Some electrical shock (electrocution) victims die days, weeks, or months after the horrific electrical event. Even a small electrical current can cause severe nerve damage and heart damage, including ventricular fibrillation.
Even with treatment, including effective medication, ventricular fibrillation can cause the heart to malfunction, leading to death.
How Long Does Electricity Stay in the Body After Shock?
In most cases, electricity passes to the body almost immediately, leaving behind an aftermath of confusion, injury, or death. Most electrical shock events cause the victim's skin to burn where the electricity entered and left the body.
However, the damage caused by the electrical contact the event could last for days, years, or permanently. The electrical shock could affect the lungs, heart, and brain. Victims might not realize the extent of the damage for a week or so after the event.
How Jobsite Electrocution Occurs
There are numerous ways that workers can come into contact with electricity on a worksite. Here are some ways that employees could be electrocuted:
- An employee is on a ladder that touches over electric lines
- An excavator digs in the ground, not knowing that there are energized underground electric lines. A metal piece then makes contact with the energized underground power source.
- Power may not be turned off on a worksite, and a construction worker may touch a power source, thinking that it has been deactivated.
- Trees and other large objects could fall, knocking down a utility line onto a worker.
These are just the most common instances of electrocution accidents on a worksite. Anytime there is live power on a worksite, workers are at risk of electrocution if the proper protective measures are not taken.
Common Electrocution Injuries
Five major injuries result from electrocution that includes:
- Cardiac Arrest - This is the most common form of electrical injury. Some studies show that as many as forty percent of electrical injuries are arrhythmias. Electricity will go to the area in the body where there is the least resistance, and the heart is generally on that path.
In some cases, electrical currents as low as 60 mA can cause injury to the heart. In some cases, even low voltage shocks can cause severe damage. Injuries can include fibrillation or other muscle damage to the heart.
The cardiac incident will generally occur either immediately or very shortly after the exposure to the electricity.
- Tissue Injury - Electrical current often destroys skin and tissue. The body emits heat as a resistance to the electrical current that is passing through it.
This heat burns internal tissue, causing it to cease functioning. Generally, the longer the duration of the electric shock, the more severe the tissue destruction becomes.
- Central Nervous System Injuries - The central nervous system conducts electricity throughout the body where the current can reach the brain, causing brain damage. Also, the high-voltage electrical current could damage the nervous system.
- Burns - Contact with the electrical source can cause thermal burns. Most likely, the point of the body that has contacted the electricity will burn the body at both the entrance and exit points. The electrical power can cause severe injuries when the current impacts internal organs.
- Secondary Injuries - Injured victims might lose control of specific body functions that could lead to a fall. If the construction employee was working at a great height and falls from a jolt of electricity, they could suffer fractures in severe injuries.
Some injuries occur when a ladder contacts an overhead power source, and the worker falls to the ground.
Statistics About Electrocution Incidents
Electrocution death rates have dropped significantly this century as safety measures have improved. In 2015, there was 134 death by electrocution in the United States, down from over 300 electrocution-related deaths number deaths in 1998.
Eighty-two of 134 deaths occurred at construction sites in many deaths involved contact with overhead power lines or some other electrical fixture on a worksite. Electricians constitute the bulk of those killed on work sites.
While less common, there is a recognizable component of people injured in car accidents who suffer electrical injuries. These events involved vehicle malfunctions or crashes into an electric pole.
Medical Treatment of Electrocution
Immediate medical assistance is crucial to surviving an electrical injury when body trauma requires specialized expert care. Electrocution victims might require cardiac care to treat heart damage.
The electrical injury victims might also experience severe pain from nervous system damage, making pain management a paramount concern. In some cases, the injury is not immediately apparent after the incident has occurred.
Many electrocuted patients require extensive rehabilitation to regain independence in the immediate aftermath of the event.
OSHA Regulations Related to Electrical Safety
OSHA has regulations that govern many areas that relate to electricity. Here are some of the areas in which employers must follow OSHA rules:
- Electrical construction standards
- Training of workers around electricity
- Hazard recognition
Workers can file a complaint with OSHA when employers violate the rules. A successful personal injury case or wrongful death lawsuit for compensation is often built on business owners violating OSHA rules that led to the victim's injuries.
How Much is My Illinois Electrocution Injury Case Worth?
Many factors could contribute to the value of your case, including your medical bills, lost income, medical attention, pain, and disability. The examples below might provide insight into how insurance companies, lawyers, and jurors value cases.
While these cases can be instructive, every compensation claim is different. Below are some sample jury verdicts and settlements for these significant injury cases.
Plaintiff Verdict for $473,295 in Virginia (2018) - A welder installed equipment on the job site using a stud welder connected to a power source that was turned off. The workman needed to move the stud welder a short distance and picked up the welder.
Heat received a strong electrical shock after touching the welding equipment and could not quickly remove his hands from the welder. The plaintiff lost consciousness and suffered permanent injuries from electrical shock.
In part, the lawsuit claimed that the defendant failed to properly energize the stud welder, making it hazardous when touched.
Settlement for $6.225 million in California (2018) - An electrician at a waste-two-energy facility was tasked with removing a 2400-volt contact starter from its cubicle for maintenance. An arc flash explosion occurred when he attempted to move the starter, causing an electrical burn and traumatic brain injury.
The plaintiff sued both the employer and contact starter manufacturer for negligence in separate product liability claims. Jurors found the defendants 75% liable in the case was settled during the damages phase of the trial.
Plaintiff Verdict for $12.25 million in California (2018) - This wrongful death lawsuit involved the decedent who had set up a table at the defendant's swap meet. The tent pole struck an electric line above, causing severe injury and death.
The decedent's wife was also present and suffered severe injuries and emotional distress from witnessing her husband's death. The fatal injury claim alleged that the power lines above were uninsulated and dangerous.
The document claims that the property owner and management should not have allowed renters to use space directly underneath the hazardous power lines.
Settlement for $500,000 in Pennsylvania (2018) - An electrician working at an elementary school installed a new light fixture. The injured victim was working on top of ductwork and contacted a hot (electrified) wire in was electrocuted to death.
The lawsuit claims that the power was supposed to be turned off, but was not. The law firm handling the decedent's estate filed a legal claim asserting that the area was unsafe and that the employer failed to follow OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) safety regulations.
The claim also alleged that the area should have been barricaded but was not.
Plaintiff Award for $8,615,127 in New York (2018) - The plaintiff was working on an unsecured ladder at a home renovation project when the ladder shifted, causing the plaintiff to fall onto a balcony.
The victim contacted a high tension wire when grabbing the ladder and suffered severe injuries and paralysis of one leg. The suit claimed that the plaintiff's injuries will worsen over time.
The plaintiff filed suit against both his employer and Home Depot, which sold him the ladder that shifted.
Plaintiff Verdict for $23 million in Florida (2018) - This wrongful death lawsuit involved a fifteen-year-old child climbing a bamboo stalk in a friend's backyard. The stalk struck an overhead electrical line, fatally electrocuting the victim.
The family claimed a work order was filed three years before the incident for the power company to remove the bamboo stalk, but the work order was never executed. A legal claim was filed against the power company—one of the counts in the complaint cited gross negligence.
Plaintiff Verdict for $500,000 in Pennsylvania (2017) - The plaintiff was performing masonry work on a home improvement project. He was on the ground next to a ladder when the current from a low hanging overhead power line ran through the ladder.
The current went through his arms and his legs. He lost part of both of his feet and now walks with a permanent limp. The lawsuit claims that the power company allowed the power line to hang too low and failed to inspect the power line properly.
The plaintiff was partially responsible for his injuries by carrying the ladder in an improper upright position.
Plaintiff Verdict for $3,401,739 in Utah (2017) - The lawsuit was brought on behalf of a two-year-old child who was playing in the backyard when a tree fell on to a voltage line which severed the power line.
The line produced heat that was significant enough to cause multiple severe burns on the child's body, causing severe scarring and cognitive loss. The personal injury claim was filed against the tree maintenance company, alleging that the company should have removed the tree since it was contracted by the power company to maintain the trees around the lines.
Settlement for $3.25 million in South Carolina (2017) - The decent was in her home and experienced an electrical problem. She suffered numerous injuries from the high voltage that caused her death.
The lawsuit claimed that the electrical company left energized wiring in her driveway for over an hour. The lawsuit claimed that the defendant should have de-energized the line when performing the work.
Settlement for $60 million in Ohio (2016) - The lawsuit was brought on behalf of a severely injured 12-year old child. She was injured by a downed power line that was part of an antiquated system needing replacement.
Hurricane Sandy downed the power line that dangled over the street within easy reach. The girl reached up and touched the low hanging electrical line and was severely electrocuted, suffering a significant brain injury.
She will now require around the clock care for the rest of her life due to suffering a profound brain injury.
Settlement for $6 million in Washington (2016) - a subcontractor employee on a road construction project was assigned to help steady the swinging pole. However, the defendants allowed the pole to become electrified during the process.
The plaintiff suffered traumatic brain injuries with cognitive and memory impairments and could not return to work. He also suffered entrance and exit burns in his hands and feet from the current.
The general contractor and the subcontractor were cited for safety violations in connection with the incident.
Plaintiff Verdict for $1.806 million in Louisiana (2015) - This wrongful death lawsuit involved the victim at a bar who was invited to the bar's roof after closing to view the Mississippi River. Bar employees provided him with alcoholic beverages while he was on the roof.
The decedent somehow contacted a life power line near the building. The lawsuit claims that the bar owner is responsible for allowing patrons access to the roof with the dangerous condition.
The lawsuit states that the power company failed to warn customers of the dangerous situation.
Settlement for $3.1 million in Nevada (2015) - The plaintiff was a structural mover engaged in a job on the roof, attempting to move low hanging wires. The victim contacted a high-voltage wire while walking on the roof, carrying a telephone cable.
He suffered severe injuries and was in a coma for several weeks afterward, suffering significantly broken bones, nerve damage, and muscle destruction, requiring multiple amputations. The lawsuit was filed against the county for issuing the permit since it knew or should have known that the roof was within six feet of high voltage power wires.
Settlement for $1.05 million in Massachusetts (2014) - This wrongful death lawsuit involved an electrical apprentice working at a construction project. The victim contacted a live 277-volt circuit and was electrocuted to death.
An investigation revealed a short circuit in one of the junction boxes that lead to the fatal injury. The decedent had been trapped when current ran through him and could not be freed.
The lawsuit claimed that the workers were not appropriately trained and that the property owner was aware of the issues with the main circuit breaker and failed to fix them.
Settlement for $1.25 million in Pennsylvania (2014) - This wrongful death lawsuit involved a victim working in asbestos removal as part of the renovation of a property. The decedent contacted a high voltage electrical line and was killed.
The lawsuit claimed that the defendants should not have let anyone into the area where there was an active power line and failed to post diagrams of the power lines for workers to see.
Get Legal Help now From a Chicago Electrocution Accident Attorney
An electrocution injury lawyer can help you and your family get the compensation you deserve from an electrocution injury. Contact the Chicago personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free consultation to discuss financial compensation.