Chicago Electrocution Accident Lawyer
Electrocution is a common risk at construction sites and one of the leading causes of death when employees are killed on the job. Multiple contractors and subcontractors are often working on a construction site simultaneously, exposing employees to high-voltage dangers and hazardous conditions.
Electrocution is a severe injury and can leave the victim with critical and permanent damages when it is not fatal.
In many cases, electrocution will occur because the employer has done something wrong or otherwise failed to follow a rule. When that happens, you or your loved one who has been injured might have legal recourse against the party responsible for your injuries in the form of financial compensation.
An Illinois Electrocution Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
The Cook County electrocution accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are experienced advocates for helping their clients file legal claims to recover for these injuries.
Our law firm handles construction accidents, workers' compensation benefits, and medical malpractice cases involving burn injuries, disfigurement, nerve damage, and severe burns.
Our attorneys currently represent clients throughout Illinois and the Chicago area, including Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, Will County, Aurora, Chicago, Elgin, Naperville, and Schaumburg.
Electrocution Accident FAQs
Does Electrocution Kill You Instantly?
A jolt of electricity disrupts the body's nervous system communication and can stop the heart muscle or cause fibrillation, a rapid, irregular heartbeat leading to low blood flow. Most electrocutions kill the victim instantly when the amperage is high while running through the body.
However, low voltage electrocution tends to grab the victim, not allowing the electrocution victim to let go of the electrified object. The length of time in the pathway that the electricity passes through the body will determine how long it takes to die.
What Happens if You Accidentally Electrocute Yourself?
Mild to moderate electric shocks could impact your health for a lifetime. Severe burns often lead to permanent scars and disfigurement. An electrical voltage might pass to the eyes in some cases, leaving the victim with cataracts or vision loss.
Electrical shock also creates numbness, tingling, intense pain, internal organ damage, underlying tissue burns, and muscle weakness. High-voltage electricity could lead to electrical shock leaving scars and injuries or electrocution leading to death.
Is Being Electrocuted Dangerous?
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), a low-level electrical shock could cause painful but innocuous sensations. Mild electrical currents could leave the victim with extensive burns and nerve damage.
Elevated electrical levels with high-voltage and amperage could cause the victim to suffer cardiac arrest and eventually died.
Can a Small Electrical Shock Hurt You?
A mild electrical shock might leave the victim with a mild burn and no visible damage to their skin. However, intense electrical currents that pass through the body could lead the victim to life-threatening internal organ damage, deadly burns, or cardiac arrest.
Under certain conditions, even a small electrical shock could be fatal.
What is the Difference between Shock and Electrocuted?
A mild to moderate electrical shock injury leaves the victim with a painful sensation or severe burn. Alternatively, electrocution is deadly when high-voltage electricity passes through the body, causing immediate cardiac arrest, burnt internal organs, traumatic brain injury, or other life-altering medical problems.
Can Being Electrocuted Affect Your Brain?
An electrical shock to the body could cause damage to the central nervous system. An electric jolt might daze the victim, causing a respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, seizure, or amnesia.
Electrical energy to the brain and nervous system could cause long-term damage that might take several months or years to appear.
What is Electrocution?
Electrocution occurs when a person contacts 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. It does not take much of an electrical current to cause damage and injury. While the skin can sometimes protect the body against electricity, people are vulnerable to serious injury when the current penetrates the skin and enters the body.
The electricity can generally break down the skin's resistance when the voltage exceeds 500 volts.
How is Someone Electrocuted on a Jobsite?
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), there are numerous ways that workers can encounter 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 contacts the energized underground power source.
- Power might not be turned off on a worksite, and a construction worker might touch a power source, thinking that it has been deactivated.
- Something, such as a tree, can fall on a utility line and knock it down, and the fallen line contacts a worker on the ground.
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. Four of these are primary injuries, and the fifth is a secondary injury that occurs because of the primary injury. The different injuries that one can suffer from electrocution include:
- 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 travel through the body with the least resistance, and the heart is generally on that path.
In some cases, electrical currents as low as 60 milliamps 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 can destroy tissue. The damage comes from the fact that the body emits heat-related resistance due to the electrical current passing through it.
This heat will burn the internal tissue and can cause it to cease functioning. Generally, the longer the electric shock duration, the more severe the tissue destruction will become.
- Central Nervous System Injuries – The central nervous system conducts electricity throughout the body. This current can reach the brain and can cause brain damage.
The electrical current could also damage the nervous system, unable to handle the high voltage passing through it.
- Burns – Contact with the electrical source can cause thermal burns. The body that has contacted the electricity will most likely be burned, as will the place where the electricity exited the body.
Burns can be external to the skin. Even if there is no external damage, internal burns can cause even more severe injury when impacting the internal organs.
- Secondary Injuries – In many cases, those who are injured might lose control of their body. Sometimes, this can lead to a fall. When this occurs from height at a construction site, the construction worker can suffer fractures or even more severe injuries.
Some injuries occur when a ladder contacts an overhead power source, causing severe injury when the worker falls to the ground.
Statistics About Electrocution Incidents
The number of deaths from electrocution incidents has been dropping this century as more measures are taken to protect workers from critical injuries. The number of deaths dropped to 147 and 2018.
In 1998, the number of electrical injury deaths in the United States exceeded 300. However, there have been advances in safety in the past two decades. On the other side, some have argued that the drop in electrocution deaths resulted from the Great Recession and is not a result of anything that employers do differently on work sites.
Eighty-two of these 134 deaths have resulted from incidents at construction sites. Many of these deaths came from contact with overhead power lines or some other electrical fixture on a worksite.
Additionally, electricians constitute the bulk of those killed on work sites. From 2013 to 2017, 117 electricians were killed in the construction field. While less common, there is a recognizable component of people injured in car accidents who suffer electrical injuries when their vehicle malfunctions or crashes into an electric pole.
Medical Treatment of Electrocution
Immediate medical assistance is of the essence if one is to survive an electrical injury. Electrical shock trauma to the body requires specialized expert care. Some of the primary means of treatment for electrical injuries include treatment for burns, which is one of the most immediate concerns in the wake of an electrocution accident.
Also, there might be a cardiac treatment that is necessary since many victims suffer some heart damage. The electrical injury victims will also be in severe pain due to the nervous system damage, so pain management is also a paramount concern.
In some cases, the injury is not immediately apparent after the incident has occurred. In that case, the patient will need to receive ongoing care to treat injuries as they arise. Also, there might be extensive rehabilitation necessary if it is possible to repair some of the damage to the nervous system.
How many functions a person can regain depends on their care in the immediate aftermath of their injury.
OSHA Regulations Related to Electrical Safety
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has regulations that govern several 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
When employers violate these rules, workers can file a complaint with OSHA. Violations of OSHA rules can be the basis for a successful personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit when breaking the rule helped cause the injury.
How Much is my Electrocution Injury Case Worth?
While many factors contribute to the value of your case, such as medical bills, lost income, medical attention, pain, and disability (only mention if not mentioned earlier on the page), the cases below will hopefully give you some insight into how juries, lawyers and insurance companies value these cases.
While these cases can be instructive, they should not be conclusive in valuing your situation. Below are some sample jury verdicts and settlements for these significant injury cases.
Plaintiff Verdict for $473,295 in Virginia (2018) – The plaintiff was installing equipment on the job site using a stud welder. The welder was connected to a power source but was turned off.
The workman needed to move the stud welder a short distance and picked up the welder. When he did so, he received a strong electrical shock and could not quickly remove his hands from the welder.
The plaintiff lost consciousness and suffered permanent injuries from electrical shock. In part, they claimed that the defendant failed to properly energize the stud welder in a manner that made it dangerous when touched.
Settlement for $6.225 million in California (2018) – The plaintiff worked as an electrician and was at a waste-to-energy facility. He was tasked with removing a 2400-volt contact starter from its cubicle so that it could undergo maintenance.
When he tried to move the starter, there was an arc flash explosion. The plaintiff suffered electrical burns as well as a traumatic brain injury.
The plaintiff sued both the employer for negligence and the contact starter manufacturer for product liability claims. The defendants were found seventy-five percent liable in total, and the case settled during the damages phase of the trial.
Plaintiff Verdict for $12.25 million in California (2018) – This was a wrongful death lawsuit. The decedent was setting up a table at a swap meet run by the defendant. The tent pole struck an electric line above, causing severe injury and death.
The decedent's wife was also present and suffered serious injuries of her own and emotional distress from both her injuries and witnessing her husband's death. The fatal injury claim alleged that the power lines above were uninsulated and dangerous and that people on the property should not have been allowed to use space directly underneath the power lines.
Settlement for $500,000 in Pennsylvania (2018) – The injured party worked as an electrician at an elementary school. He was installing a new light fixture and was working on top of ductwork when he encountered a hot wire that was not turned off as it was supposed to be and was electrocuted to death.
The legal claim asserted that the premises were unsafe and that the employer failed to follow OSHA safety regulations. The claim also alleged that the area should have been barricaded off 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. The ladder shifted, and the plaintiff fell to the balcony. He grabbed the ladder and contacted a high-tension wire that was in the vicinity.
The plaintiff was severely injured and suffered paralysis of his non-dominant hand and partial paralysis of one leg. The suit claimed that the plaintiff's injuries would continue to worsen.
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 was a wrongful death lawsuit. The decedent was a 15-year old child who was climbing a bamboo stalk in a friend's backyard. The stalk struck an overhead line, and the child was fatally electrocuted.
The family had claimed a work order filed three years before the power company's incident to remove the bamboo stalk, but the work order was never executed. A legal claim was filed against the power company, and one of the counts of the complaint was for 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 from his injuries and now walks with a permanent limp.
The lawsuit claimed that the power company allowed the power line to hang too low and failed to inspect the power line thoroughly. 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 minor child. When he was two years old, he was playing in the backyard. A tree fell on to a voltage line, which severed the line.
The line produced heat that was significant enough to cause multiple electrical burns on the child's body. The child suffered severe scarring as well as 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 and needed replacement.
The power line was downed in Hurricane Sandy. The power line dangled over the street within easy reach. The girl reached up and touched the low hanging power 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) – The plaintiff worked for a subcontractor on a road construction project and 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 that resulted in 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 was a wrongful death case. The decedent was at a bar. He was invited up to the bar's roof after closing to get a view of the Mississippi River.
The operated of the bar provided him with alcoholic beverages while he was on the roof. The decedent encountered a power line that was near the building.
The lawsuit was filed against the bar owner for allowing patrons access to the roof with the dangerous condition and against the power company for failing to warn customers of the dangerous condition.
Settlement for $3.1 million in Nevada (2015) – The plaintiff was a structural mover and was engaged in a job. He was on the roof, attempting to move low hanging wires.
He was walking on the roof carrying a telephone cable when he contacted a high voltage wire. He suffered severe injuries and was in a coma for several weeks afterward. He suffered significant destruction of bones and muscle that resulted in 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 was a wrongful death case. The decedent was an electrical apprentice who was working on a construction project.
He encountered a live 277-volt circuit and was electrocuted to death. There was a short circuit in one of the junction boxes that helped cause the injury. The decedent was trapped when current ran through him, and he could not be freed.
The lawsuit claimed that the workers were not professionally trained in the electrical plan and that the property owner was aware of the issues with the main circuit breaker and did not fix them.
Settlement for $1.25 million in Pennsylvania (2014) – This was a wrongful death case. The decedent was working in asbestos removal as part of the renovation of a property.
He encountered 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.
Have You or a Loved one Been Electrocuted? Get Legal Help Now
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 to set up your free no-risk consultation today and find out how we can help you.
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