Death By Electrocution Accident Law: Know Your Legal Rights

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Death By Electrocution Accident: Know Your Legal Rights

When a loved one has suffered a death from an electrocution accident in the United States, you will likely be entitled to compensation and damages. Depending on the circumstances, you will be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against either the negligent party responsible or a Workers’ Comp claim if the tragedy occurred while on the job, or both. 

Sadly, an electrical accident that causes a loss of life can happen nearly anywhere – around utility lines and power lines, at home, at work, exiting a car, in the water, in swimming pools and even in hot tubs.

Regardless of whether you bring a Workers’ Comp claim or a wrongful death lawsuit based on negligence, the parties responsible for a fatal accident can include the deceased’s employer or a co-worker, an independent contractor, an electrical utility company, the manufacturer of a defective electric component or appliance, and/or the owner of a property where the fatality occurred.

An experienced electrocution lawyer can help you hold the negligent parties accountable and maximize the amount of your settlement.

Is death by electrocution painful?

Deaths by electrocution are often painful. Severe burns, internal organ damage, and cardiac arrest frequently precede the loss of life as the electrical current passes through a person’s body. Factors that affect pain and suffering include the voltage of the electric shock and the duration of exposure.  

Accidental death by electrocution statistics for the US

Every year in the U.S., there are 1,000 accidental deaths caused by electrocution and 30,000 non-fatal electric shock incidents, according to the National Library of Medicine. In 2022, there were 145 deaths caused by fatal exposure to electricity in the workplace, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Deaths from electrical accidents in the workplace were 152 in 2021, 126 in 2020, 166 in 2019, and 160 in 2018. The most current year for which data is available through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is 2022.

Death by electrocution at home

Deaths by electrocution at home are most frequently caused by downed power lines and low-hanging or sagging electrical wires. Often, the local utility company neglects to properly maintain power lines and other infrastructure. When a power line falls, for example, these lethal threats can find their way into people’s yards, driveways and walkways.  

The deadly risk of electrocution posed by downed and low-hanging power lines cannot be overstated. A high voltage arc from one of these live wires can reach 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is three and one-half times the heat of the sun’s surface and more than 10 times the heat needed to melt iron (2,800 degrees).

Other causes of electricity-related injuries and possible death in the home include: faulty wiring, damaged appliances, power strips, extension cords, power tools, electrical outlets, ladders (because they put people high enough in the air that they can come into contact with power lines and wires), and space heaters. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 100 deaths from electricity are associated with the use of consumer products annually during the three-year period from 2018 to 2020. These are the most current years for which data is available.

Dying from electricity in water

People dying in electrically charged water is frequently caused by electric-shock drowning. This occurs when an electrical current that is released into the water makes contact with a swimmer, paralyzing the person and, thus, rendering him or her unable to swim or otherwise stay afloat.

These tragedies can happen in swimming pools, saunas or hot tubs. They can also occur in lakes and larger bodies of water, especially near boats and docks that are wired for electricity.

These fatal accidents are frequently caused by negligence in maintaining electrical systems, inadequate safety measures, or defective pool and hot tub equipment.

Prevention tips include regular inspections of electrical systems, the use of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), and prompt repair and/or replacement of faulty wiring, improper grounding and damaged equipment that is near the water. Promptly address any signs of electrical malfunction.

Dying from electricity in hot tubs

People dying from electricity related to hot tubs are caused by a release of electrical current into the water due to faulty underwater lighting, defective electrical wiring, ungrounded pumps, filters, vacuums, and appliances. A lack of GFCI protection (ground-fault circuit-interrupters) is commonly a factor.

The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission reports there were 47 incidents involving injury or death in hot tubs, pools and spas from 2002 to 2018, resulting in 33 deaths and 33 injuries.

Death by electrocution at work

Death by electrocution at work may give rise to two claims by the family and dependents of the worker who lost his or her life. A claim for Workers’ Comp death benefits can be filed against the deceased’s employer. And a wrongful death claim can be filed against other negligent parties.

Workers’ compensation death benefits in most states are generally limited to helping compensate the deceased worker’s family and dependents for the loss of their loved one’s financial support. The benefits may also help cover funeral and burial expenses. There are important exceptions, however, and most personal injury lawyers and workers compensation lawyers alike often will miss viable electrocution accident lawsuits that can be brought against a third-party, such as a contractor, who is not shielded by a state’s workers compensation laws.

A wrongful death lawsuit will allow the deceased worker’s family to recover damages and compensation from negligent third parties other than the deceased’s employer. A wrongful death recovery will include compensation for pain and suffering and other noneconomic and economic losses including loss of a loved one’s companionship, society, and emotional and financial support as well as parental guidance to minor children. Expenses for medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses will also be covered.

Unfortunately, a wrongful death lawsuit generally cannot be brought against the deceased’s employer because most states’ Workers’ Compensation laws have “exclusive remedy” provisions that only permit workers’ comp claims for certain, specified death benefits and that explicitly preclude claims for pain and suffering compensation. This is why it is so important to review your case with an experienced electrocution lawyer who can look for potential responsible parties who are not shielded by a state’s exclusive remedy laws.

Occupational hazards leading to electrocution include working near power lines, handling faulty equipment, and inadequate training on electrical safety. Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment, which includes implementing safety protocols, conducting regular inspections, and providing proper training to employees. Compliance with safety regulations, such as lockout/tagout procedures, can significantly reduce the risk of death by electrocution at work.

Third-party liability for death by electrocution at work

Third-party liability for death by electrocution at work is an important way for families and dependents to recover compensation and damages after the loss of their loved one. However, this source of recovery is frequently overlooked by attorneys who are inexperienced in electrocution cases.

Even though a state’s Workers’ Compensation laws may cut-off or limit an employer’s liability for a worker’s electricity-related death, those laws do nothing to shield other negligent parties from being held legally liable.

Anyone – other than a direct employer or a co-worker – whose negligence contributed to a worker’s death from an electrical accident can potentially be sued for wrongful death. Their negligence may consist of actively creating a situation that resulted in the worker’s death or failing to take the necessary precautions to prevent the fatal accident.

Who is responsible for an electrocution accident that results in death?

Any person, business, or entity whose negligence causes an electrocution accident that results in death may be held responsible. This could include an employer, a co-worker, a utility company, a maintenance company, an electrician, an equipment manufacturer, a property owner and/or electrical contractors.

Can I sue if a loved one dies from an electrical accident?

If death by electrocution has taken the life of your loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the persons, or businesses or entities whose negligence caused and/or contributed to your loved one’s death.

Generally, a wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by the personal representative of your loved one’s estate. Although the personal representative can be a family member or a dependent, he or she will have the legal authority to file a lawsuit only if he or she has been formally appointed as the personal representative by a judge in the probate court.

What type of compensation is available?

Compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit may include money damages for pain and suffering as well as loss of a loved one’s companionship, society, and consortium. Damages for loss of financial support and medical, funeral and burial expenses may also be compensated.

However, in the event of a person at work dying from an electrical accident, compensation will generally be limited to past and future lost wages and funeral and burial expenses, depending on the Workers’ Compensation laws of the state where the fatal electricity-related work accident occurred.

Do I need an attorney?

You need an experienced electrocution attorney when you have lost a loved one to death by electrocution. The stakes are extraordinarily high for you and your family. Only a lawyer who specializes in this area of the law can help you get the full compensation and money damages you’re legally entitled to.

An experienced electrocution lawyer with specialized knowledge and skill and a track record of success can help you and your family in the following ways:

  • Win better settlements faster
  • Prevent important evidence that you will need to prove your case from being destroyed or altered
  • Identify all of the negligent parties and hold them accountable and ensure that they pay the compensation and money damages that they are legally liable for
  • Uncover all of the liability insurance coverage and financial assets that the negligent parties have access to – These resources will demonstrate the negligent parties’ ability to pay and, thus, the amount they can contribute to ensure a settlement in your case reflects the actual, true value of your case
  • Investigate and identify all of the violations of the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) and the National Electrical Code (NEC) – Demonstrating how these violations caused your loved one’s death are crucial to proving the liability of the negligent parties and the compensation and damages you may be able to recover
  • Recruit the nation’s top experts to help prove your case – The most commonly used experts in a death by electrocution cases include: (1) forensic pathologist, (2) power infrastructure expert, (3) electrical engineering expert, (4) mechanical engineering expert, (5) reliability engineer, (6) experts on the National Electric Safety Code and the National Electrical Code, (7) an economist, and (8) medical experts to address injuries, surgeries, and present and future medical needs.

Get help from an experienced electric shock injury lawyer

If you or someone you love is a victim of serious personal injury or death caused by electricity you can call and speak with Jeff Feldman, arguably the nation’s most experienced electric shock accident and electrocution attorney. Jeff has litigated electrocution cases and electric shock injury cases in multiple states for families whose loved ones were injured or killed by electric shock, such as faulty consumer products, negligence in the building and construction industry, downed or low-hanging overhead power cables, and defective or poorly maintained pool equipment. Jeff also consults with injury lawyers throughout the country on electric shock injury and wrongful death cases involving electricity. You can call Jeff toll free at (947) 282-4269 for a free consultation.

Jeffrey feldman

Author 
Jeffrey H. Feldman
Electrocution Lawyer

Jeffrey has tried more electrocution cases than most other injury lawyers in the country. He’s also secured several multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients, many who have lost loved ones in electrocution accidents.

5 stars

He’s an honest lawyer. If he takes on a case, it’s because he truly believes in it.

– L.B.