We all know that electricity can be dangerous, but most of us tend to pass off an electrocution or electric shock death as something that would never happen to us or someone we know. Serious injuries caused by electricity are fairly rare, but the statistics may surprise you:
- Data from the S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that between 1992 and 2013 there were almost 6,000 fatal electricity-related injuries to workers in the United States. There were over 24,100 non-fatal electrical injuries during that same time frame.
- As far as more recent data is concerned, in 2014, 8.5% of labor-related deaths occurred as a result of electrocution. 8.5% may seem like a small percentage when compared to the 39.9% of workers who died from fall-related injuries in 2014, but electrocutions are the second-highest cause of worker deaths for that year. Electrocutions and falls make up the top two spots in the U.S. construction industry’s list of work-related deaths, in fact.
- Work-related accidents aren’t the only cause of electrocutions, either. According to data compiled by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), every year there are roughly 60 electrocutions associated with consumer products. The most common product categories associated with this type of injuries include small appliance, power tool, and lighting equipment.
Common Causes of Electrocution Injuries
An electrocution is defined as an injury or death caused by electric shock. When someone is a victim of electric shock, they are directly exposed to a source of electrical energy or current. In most cases, electricity will enter the body, flow through a portion of the body, and exit again, causing a direct shock to the body and causing damage at the entrance and exit locations.
Electrocution injuries can happen to anyone and in any location. Work-related electrocutions are certainly more common, but injuries involving electricity can happen anywhere where man-made electricity runs or is stored, including our homes and/or offices and any area where power lines are found.
Direct exposure to live electrical wires is the most common cause of electric shock injuries. Fallen electrical lines or lines that are severed during storms or accidents are the most common reasons for exposure. Live electrical wires can also become naturally exposed over time due to severe weather conditions, improper maintenance, or poor handling.
Natural sources of electricity such as electrical and lightning storms are also a possible source of an electric shock injury but these cases are exceedingly rare.
Symptoms of Electricity-Related Injuries
Not all accidents and injuries caused by electric shock are serious. Whether or not the injury is serious will depend on many factors including the type of electrical current the victim was exposed to (alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC)), how long they were exposed to the current, and what voltage of electricity they were exposed to.
Low voltage electricity of less than 500 volts doesn’t normally cause significant injury to adult humans, but any voltage higher than 500 volts can cause serious tissue damage and varying side effects. Children under the age of 12 can also become damaged by low voltage electricity typically found in household current (110-220 volts). Electrical current running through household appliances, electrical cords, wall outlets, and extension cords, for example, can be damaging to young children.
Contrary to what one may think, electrical shock injuries and symptoms of electrocution can be difficult to identify. Many times, the victim will be in a state of mental shock and not realize what happened. After being exposed to an extremely high current of voltage, it’s also possible that the electricity damaged the body’s nerve endings, making it difficult for the victim to register pain.
Common symptoms of serious electrical injuries include:
- Evidence of an entrance and exit wound on the body, usually in the form of burn marks or open wounds
- Evidence of smaller burn marks surrounding the entrance/exit wounds
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in various parts of the body
- Changes in vision, speech, or the ability to register pain/touch
- Sudden inability to move normally
- Irregular breathing and/or heartbeat
- Chest pains
- Muscle spasms or contractions
- Loss of consciousness or confusion
- Mouth burns (typically found in young children)
If left untreated, injuries caused by an electrocution or electrical shock can worsen, leading to potential brain damage or even heart damage. The body undergoes significant stress when exposed to electrical current. If you or anyone you love has been a victim of electrocution or an electricity-related incident, seek emergency medical care immediately. Do not wait for the victim’s symptoms to worsen.
After the victim starts receiving the necessary medical care, it’s time to evaluate your options. Was the electrocution related to an incident or accident that you feel was not the victim’s fault? Did a construction crew leave unprotected electrical wires where children could easily come into contact with them, for example? If you feel the incident occurred due to negligence, you and your family are more than entitled to seek legal compensation.
Tad Thomas of Thomas Law Offices is a Louisville, KY electrocution injury lawyer who is experienced in handling a wide variety of personal injury cases and can help you and your family get the financial compensation and peace of mind you need to fully recover. Contact our Louisville office for more information.