In our last post, we discussed the danger of electrocution and how people can die from even three seconds of exposure to electricity. However, not all contacts between a human body and electrical current result in death. Sometimes, electricity accident victims survive only to face the stress and trauma of recovering from a serious electric shock or electrical burn.
What Is Electric Shock?
An electric shock occurs when a human body is exposed to live electric current without fatality. It is the amount of current that the person experiences that determines not only if he dies from the exposure (electrocution) but also how serious his injuries will be.
The amount of current is determined by the “driving voltage” and the “path resistance” as the current flows through the body. The same voltage that can kill in one circumstance will result in only minor discomfort in another situation of electric shock and electricity exposure.
Dangers of Working with Electricity
This is why someone working on utility poles or on a construction site may be able to work with live electricity. Insulation in gloves and boots alters the “path resistance” of the electric current.
Workers who deal with electricity are aware of the “hand-in-the-pocket” safety measure because it alters the path resistance of the current. Here, if one hand is in the worker’s pocket it maneuvers the current’s path to the earth (ground), and will lessen any shock that is accidentally sustained.
Other safety measures that are used when working with, or near, live electric current include:
- Never using metal ladders
- Using cordless power tools
- Never using electric cables that are frayed or damaged in some way
- Never using electric tools with cords in damp areas
- Never using electric tools with cords in metal enclosures or on metal surfaces
- Protect electric cables from being run over by carts, trolleys, or work vehicles (including vans or trucks)
- Inspect to make ensure grounding before testing live electricity
- Wear insulated footwear
- Work on insulated mats
- Never wear metallic jewelry, watches, or glasses, while working with electricity.
Electric Shocks at Home or Office
In the home, it is often children and teenagers who are victims of electric shock. Researchers report that these electricity accidents are not usually serious, since household currents are low (110-220 volts).
Household electric shocks are most often caused by household appliances and extension cords.
Electric extension cords reportedly cause 63%+ of household electric shock accidents. Electric wall outlets are held responsible for 15% of these injuries.
At the office, the danger of electric shock is usually caused by office equipment.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, the most common causes of office electric shocks are
- Defective products that expose the worker to electric current;
- Installation of office equipment that was improper or fails allowing exposure to electricity;
- Extension cords, power strips, and surge protectors.
Workers in offices should take the following precautions to avoid electric shock:
- Check the electrical load for all surge protectors and do not exceed the circuit maximum
- Never have more than one high-wattage appliance in an electrical outlet at one time
- Do not keep appliances plugged into an electrical outlet when they are not in use
- Routinely inspect electrical cords to make sure they are not damaged in some way
- Route electric cords so that no one steps on them or rolls carts, etc., over the cords
- Check to make sure that all electric equipment is certified by a recognized laboratory.
Damages That Result From Electric Shock
The exposure to live electric current can have a wide range of physical results. It is very important for parents and caretakers, as well as office workers and those on any worksite, to be aware that the victim of an electric shock may not show immediate signs of injury but nevertheless be seriously injured.
Electric shock victims may not demonstrate harm and internally be severely at risk of things like life-threatening heart attack and cardiac arrest.
Electric shock injuries include:
- Burns at the point where the body touched the live electric current and where it exited the body (at the ground).
- Falls or spills where the force of the electric shock literally moves the body, as the muscles contract to distance the body from the current. Spinal injuries and head trauma can result here.
- Internal injuries including bleeding and respiratory harm.
- Fractures / Broken Bones.
Damage Claims for Electric Shock Accidents
There are all sorts of scenarios where people are seriously injured or killed in electricity accidents and exposure to electric current. Electricity is everywhere, accompanied by the risk of harm.
Accordingly, after any injury sustained by an electric current, it’s important to assess the event and determine the cause of the exposure. There are a wide variety of parties who may be liable for negligently causing that harm to the child, teenager, office employee, or construction worker:
- Responsible parties can include electric utility companies. If the utility company fails to insulate the electric lines properly, then the utility may have negligently caused the electricity accident.
- Manufacturers of defective products may also be liable for electric shock injuries. If the power tool, extension cord, surge protector, copier, toaster oven, microwave, printer, or portable fan malfunctioned and allowed contact with live electric current, then the maker may be liable for the injuries.
- Employers are responsible for maintaining a safe workplace. If the employer fails to keep the work area or job site safe from electricity exposure, then the company can be held liable for damages that result from an electricity accident.
- Property owners who fail to keep their premises safe from electric shock or exposure to live electric current may also be legally responsible for electricity accident damages.
- Caretakers and other third parties can also be held liable if their negligence caused harm to someone in their care or charge that involved exposure to live electric current and an electric shock injury.
- In some instances, the use of Tasers and other stun guns by law enforcement can result in damage claims against the police based upon electric shock injuries from the electrical device.
Electricity Exposure and Electric Shock Accident Claims
After a serious bodily injury from exposure to live electric current and the resulting electric shock, the accident victim may be able to obtain damages from those responsible in the form of medical expenses, lost wages, disfigurement, pain and suffering, lost future earning capacity, future rehab and therapy needs, and more.
Electricity is a necessary danger in our lives. Those who suffer serious harm from electric shock deserve justice for their injuries. Let’s be careful out there!