Each year in Indiana and across the United States, workers are severely injured or killed in workplace accidents involving electrocutions. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 134 workers across the nation were killed when they were exposed to electricity while they were working. Workers in the construction industry are especially at risk of suffering an on-the-job electricity-related injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration calls electrocution accidents among the construction industry’s fatal four, which are the four types of injuries that result in death each year. In addition to the risks of death from contact with electricity, electrocutions also bring risks of serious injuries.
Causes of Workplace Electrocution Injuries
Both electrical workers and non-electrical workers may suffer electricity-related injuries while working. The primary causes of electrocutions in the workplace are contacts with overhead power lines, contacts with electrical wiring and equipment and contacts with appliances and machinery. Among workers who are not employed as electrical workers, the primary cause of work-related electrocution accidents is contacting overhead power lines because of failing to stay far enough away from them; failing to protect the lines; and failing to de-energize them before working around them. Other workers may also suffer from electric shocks from using old extension cords and engaging in other unsafe workplace activities. Defective wiring in the workplace is also a leading cause of electric shocks among workers outside of the construction industry.
Work Related Electrocution Injuries
Coming into contact with electricity may cause injuries ranging from mild pain and discomfort to death. Some people who suffer from them may be left with permanent disabilities and be unable to return to their jobs. The injuries may include the following:
- Brain injuries
- Neurological injuries
- Cardiac arrest or other heart problems
- Permanent disfigurement
When workers suffer from electrical shock, they may suffer several symptoms, including heart attacks, dizziness, unconsciousness, seizures, muscle pain, headaches or hearing loss. It is important for people who have suffered electric shocks at work to seek medical care immediately.
Workplace Electrical Hazards
In order to help prevent workplace injuries from electrical exposures, OSHA promulgates and enforces safety regulations that companies are required to follow. There are numerous hazards that may lead to electrical accidents in the workplace, including wet floors, defective wiring, overloaded circuits, downed power lines, exposed electrical parts and others. When companies violate these regulations, they place their workers at risk of suffering debilitating injuries or fatalities. No matter who was at fault in causing the accident, eligible workers may recover benefits from workers’ compensation when they have been injured on the job by electricity.
Recovering Benefits or Damages from Workplace Electrocution Accidents
Workers who suffer from electric shocks while they are on the job may file claims for benefits through their employers’ workers’ compensation insurance policies. Most employers in Indiana are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance so that workers who are injured may recover benefits for their injuries. Injured workers may recover benefits to pay for all of their related medical costs, including hospital care, medical appointments, rehabilitation, prosthetics and prescription expenses. If a worker is unable to return to work because the accident caused a disability, the worker may recover monthly benefits that pay for a percentage of his or her former income. Disability benefits through workers’ compensation may include those for partial or total and temporary or permanent disabilities.
In some cases, third parties may hold liability for workplace electrocution accidents under a theory of negligence. For example, if a worker is electrocuted by a defective piece of equipment, the parties that were involved in the chain of production may hold liability to pay damages to the injured worker or to the family members of workers who were killed. Families of workers who are killed in workplace accidents involving contacts with electricity may also recover benefits from the employers of their loved ones by filing workers’ compensation claims. The spouses of the workers may recover monthly benefits to replace a percentage of their loved ones’ incomes that were lost when they were killed in an electrical accident while working.
How an Attorney May Help
If you were injured at work in an accident involving contact with electricity, you may benefit by seeking help from an experienced attorney at Goodin Abernathy. Our attorneys may help you to recover the workers’ compensation benefits to which you should be entitled. If a third party is partly to blame for the accident, our attorneys may also file personal injury lawsuits against the third party in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. This may help you to maximize the amount of compensation that you might recover to help pay for the losses you have suffered from your electrocution accident.