A downed power line carries high voltage electricity and is very dangerous. Because it is not possible to tell by looking whether a downed wire is live, you must always stay as far away as possible to keep safe. A downed overhead cable should be reported immediately to the electric utility company and to 9-1-1.
When an electrical utility company’s failure to properly inspect, remedy and repair its power cables and electrical equipment causes or contributes to a downed overhead cable that results in injury, death or property damage, the utility may be liable for negligence or wrongful death damages.
If you have been injured by or if you have lost a loved one to injuries caused by a downed line, an electrocution lawyer can help you and your family protect your legal rights and ensure that you recover the best settlement possible in your case against the responsible parties.
What is a downed power line?
A downed power line is a high voltage electrical wire that has fallen from a utility pole or transmission tower and landed on the ground, a house, a fence, a tree or a vehicle. Because it carries enough electricity to power cities, neighborhoods, businesses and homes, a downed overhead cable is very dangerous.
How to report a downed power line?
To report a downed power line there are two things you must do: (1) contact the electric utility company to let them know the address where the downed overhead cable is located; and (2) call 9-1-1. When possible, describe any buildings or objects that the downed wire has made physical contact with.
Can you drive over a downed power line?
Never drive over a downed power line. The electric utility wire could get caught in your wheels or undercarriage, causing you to pull down other power cables, utility poles, or electrical equipment. The extreme heat from a downed wire could melt your tires or cause them to catch fire.
What should you do if an overhead power cable falls on your car?
If a downed power line falls on your car, remain inside so long as it is safe to do so. Call 9-1-1 and the utility company. Do not exit until first responders or utility workers have told you it is safe to do so. If safety requires that you evacuate, jump clear of your car without touching it and shuffle to safety.
Here are some safety suggestions for evacuating your vehicle when downed overhead cables on your car make it too dangerous to remain inside:
- Remove all loose items of clothing
- Open the vehicle door – but do not step out of the vehicle
- Stand with both feet together on the threshold of your vehicle’s door
- Take your arms and either fold them across your chest OR hold your arms and hands them by your sides
- Jump clear of the vehicle with both feet as close together as possible – making sure that you DO NOT touch or otherwise make contact with the motor vehicle while jumping
- Make sure that you ARE NOT touching any part of your vehicle when your feet hit the ground
- It is crucial that you are NEVER touching both the vehicle and the ground AT THE SAME TIME – that is why you must jump rather than step out
- Shuffle away from your car or truck – keeping your feet close together on the ground at all times
- DO NOT raise, pick up or lift your feet off the ground as you normally would when you walk – Never lift only one foot off the ground (Think: shuffling your feet rather than walking)
- Do not begin to part your feet until you are at least 30 feet away from the downed overhead cables.
How to tell if a downed power line is live?
You cannot tell if a downed power line is live so always treat any downed overhead cables you encounter as if it is live. Remember any power line that is live carries high voltage electricity and carries with it a high risk of electrocution or serious shock injury. Any downed line is potentially very deadly and it is impossible to determine just by looking at an electric cable whether it is energized.
Also, what you see on TV or in the movies can be misleading – a cable or power line can still be live and potentially lethal even if it does not spark, arc, hum, buzz or jump.
Why is it so important to stay away from a downed overhead cable?
It is important to stay away from a downed overhead cable because you do not know what it will do and you cannot tell whether it is energized. A live power line may whip, sweep or jump trying to find “ground” either on the ground or something touching the ground like a tree, fence, puddle, building . . . or a person.
How far should you stay from a downed power line?
Stay as far away as possible from a downed power line. As an electrocution lawyer, most of the experts I have encountered recommend that you stay at least 30 feet away from a downed electrical wire. This will help protect you from making contact with the line, plus it reduces your risk of electric shock from “ripples” of electrical current given off by the cable.
Can I sue if bad weather causes a downed wire and it results in property damage, injury or death?
If a utility’s failure to properly carry out its duty to inspect and repair defects and hazards in electrical wires and equipment contributes to a bad weather-related downed wire, then you may be able to hire a lawyer to sue if someone is injured or killed. A lawsuit can also be brought if there is resulting property damage.
It is important to contact an experienced electrocution lawyer. Many personal injury lawyers who are not experienced with these types of cases frequently give bad advice, telling an injured lineman or his or her family if the lineman is deceased that they are barred from suing because of the state’s Workers’ Compensation laws. This can be true, but often there are third parties and other liable entities that are still legally culpable for the death or serious burn or shock injury that has occurred.
Who is liable for property damage, injuries or death caused by a downed wire due to aging electrical infrastructure?
It is likely that the electric utility company will be liable for property damage, injuries or death caused by a downed wire due to aging electrical infrastructure if the utility has failed to carry out its duty to inspect and repair defects in its electrical cables and keep its equipment in safe condition.
Can I sue for an injury or death caused by a downed wire due to aging electrical infrastructure?
You may be able to sue if you have suffered an injury or if a loved one has lost his or her life as a result of a downed wire caused by an electric utility company’s aging electrical infrastructure. It will depend on whether the utility breached its duty to inspect, repair and remedy defects and hazards in its system.
Can I sue for property damage caused by a downed wire due to aging electrical infrastructure?
An electric utility has a duty to inspect, remedy and repair defects and hazards in its power lines and electrical equipment. If the utility breaches its duty with regard to an aging electrical infrastructure, thus causing a downed power line that damages property, then you may be able to sue the electric utility.
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 Feldman has litigated electrocution cases and electric shock injury cases in multiple states for families whose loved ones were injured or killed by a downed power line, faulty consumer products, negligence in the building and construction industry, 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 (800) 548-0043 for a free consultation.