Each year, thousands of people are killed or seriously injured in electrical accidents. Electrocutions can happen almost anywhere, and there are a number of potential causes. Many electrical injuries are work related, and there are certain occupations and industries in which the risk of this type of injury is much higher. Electrocutions can also happen at home for various reasons.
Electrocutions and other types of electrical injuries can be very serious, and in some cases life-threatening. A victim of this type of injury could be out of work for an extended period of time as they struggle to recover, and this can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for the entire household. When someone is injured in an electrical accident that was caused by another person or party, they deserve to be fully compensated.
For half a century, the Masters Law Firm has successfully represented victims of electrical accidents and those who have suffered all other types of personal injuries in West Virginia. Our lawyers exclusively represent victims of wrongful acts, and we have extensive knowledge of the complexities involved with these types of cases. We work closely with our clients, taking the time to thoroughly evaluate their case and exploring every potential legal avenue toward recovering maximum compensation.
Before you speak with the insurance company, find out about your legal rights and options. For a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 304-342-3106 or toll free at 1-800-342-3106.
Types of Electrical Accidents
There are three primary ways that individuals might sustain an injury from an electrical accident:
Electrical Shock: Also known as electrocutions, electrical shocks happen when the skin comes in contact with an electrical current, causing the current to run through the body. Electric shocks typically happen on the finger, hand, or arm, but they can happen in other parts the body as well. An electrical shock can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the strength of the current and other factors. In the worst cases, electrocutions can cause heart failure and pose a serious risk of fatality.
Electrical Burn: A moderate to severe electric shock can simultaneously cause burns in various parts of the body. Some electrical burns are external and affect only the skin, often resulting in scarring and in more serious cases, disfigurement. But a more severe electrical shock can result in internal burns that affect the bones and surrounding deep tissue.
Electrical Fires: With some electrical accidents, the electric current ignites and causes a fire. This happens most often when the accident occurs in the vicinity of flammable materials such as gasoline or paint thinner. Electrical fires can be especially dangerous if an individual’s clothes catch on fire. Many people react to fires by trying to douse them with water, but in situations like these, water can make things worse by increasing the risk of an electrical shock.
Some of the most common causes of the various types of electrical accidents and injuries include:
Faulty electrical wiring
Overloaded electrical cords and outlets
Accidental liquid spills and exposure
Exposed/naked cords and damaged outlets
Contact with an overhead or buried power line (this is a common cause with utility workers and on construction job sites)
DIY electrical wiring/repair attempts
Defective or dangerous consumer products
Faulty tools and defective equipment in the workplace
Electrical Injury Cases in West Virginia
As we talked about earlier, electrocution injuries can be very serious and result in substantial losses for the victim and their loved ones. The process of recovering compensation for these losses will not be the same in all cases, however. This will depend largely on whether or not the injury happened in the workplace and who was at fault.
For a workplace electrical injury, the first legal recourse for the victim is usually to file a workers’ compensation claim. Most West Virginia employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance, and if your employer has it, you can file a claim for benefits.
The good thing about workers’ compensation is that it is a no-fault program that provides coverage for injuries and illnesses regardless of who caused the injury. There are some exceptions to this, such as self-inflicted injuries and injuries that occur because of violations of company policy (like drinking on the job, for example), but in most cases, an injured employee should qualify for benefits as long as the injury was work-related.
The downside of workers’ compensation is that, although it is a no-fault program, the claims process is complicated and confusing, and employers and their insurers sometimes wrongly deny benefits and/or put up unnecessary barriers designed to frustrate an injured employee into giving up on their claim. This is why it is important to work with an experienced accident injury attorney to help ensure a smoother claims process and that you receive the level of benefits you deserve.
Another drawback with workers’ comp is that benefits are limited to monetary losses such as reasonable and necessary medical expenses, a percentage of lost wages, and rehabilitation and retraining costs. Unfortunately, there is no compensation available for intangible losses such as pain and suffering, psychological distress, and diminished quality of life.
For some workers who suffer electrical injuries, it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the responsible party. This applies mostly to situations in which a party other than the employer is at fault for the injury.
For example, an electrical accident on a construction site could result from loose wiring that a third-party subcontractor failed to properly secure, in which case the subcontractor would be the one at fault. Another example is when faulty equipment has an electrical malfunction that causes a fire and injures workers nearby. In this case, those injured may be able to file a product liability claim against the equipment designer or manufacturer.
In some rare cases, it is possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against a West Virginia employer under the legal theory known as “deliberate intent.” But to be successful with this type of claim, you need clear and convincing evidence that the electrical accident resulted from the employer’s deliberate actions. Speak with your attorney to find out if a deliberate intent claim is possible in your case.
For injured workers who have a valid personal injury claim and for victims of electrical accidents that happen outside of the workplace, it is possible to recover damages for both economic and noneconomic losses. Your attorney will examine the specific circumstances in your case and calculate the amount and types of damages you should pursue.
Contact Our Seasoned West Virginia Electrical Injury Lawyers Today
If you or someone close to you was injured or killed in an electrical accident in West Virginia, the Masters Law Firm is ready to go to work for you. To arrange your free, no obligation consultation, message us online or call us today at 304-342-3106 or toll free at 1-800-342-3106.