Frequently Asked Questions About Electrocution

Disabled crippled man sits in his wheelchair in front of his home in the grass.
Disabled crippled man sits in his wheelchair in front of his home in the grass.

Electrocution can occur due to any type of electrical shock and depending on the amount of electrical voltage, will determine the amount of damage. When a person is exposed to high voltage electricity at current of (1 A) they can result in permanent cell damage and burns. At lower levels of current of (70 mA to 700 mA) individual may experience a fibrillation in the heart, which will generally require the use of a defibrillator to restart the heart muscle.

Statistics and Data of Electrocution

The data and statistics that have been collected show that there are approximately 3,000 people admitted to burn centers annually and there are about 1,000 electrocution fatalities every year. The data shows that the largest age group that suffer injury or fatality in electrocution incidences are toddlers and adolescents.

There are certain factors that will determine the amount of harm that is suffered during an electrocution accident:

  • The level of the voltage that is exposed to the individual.
  • The amount of time the contact with the current continues.
  • The location the electric contacts the body and path the electricity takes through the body.
  • Type of current.
  • Type of circuit.

Causes of Electrical Shocks or Electrocutions

There are some types of electrical shock or electrocution, which results in damages to the cells, burns and in some cases, it can lead to death. These include:

  • Faulty electrical wiring.
  • Contact with an exposed electrical source, such as a defective product or wiring.
  • Defective products, such as microwaves, hair dryers or other electrical items.
  • Contact between metal and electricity, such as a ladder contacting exposed electrical current at home or a construction site, or an ungrounded tool contacting exposed wiring.
  • Accidental contact with power lines, which can occur during a car accident or at a construction site.
  • Unsafe industrial conditions.
  • Unsafe commercial kitchen equipment.
  • Electrical arc flashes from power lines.
  • Lightning.

Other Danger Zones

  • Home: When electrocution occurs in the home it is generally due to unsafe products, such as malfunctioning appliances, medical devices, power tools or even children’s products. There can also be faulty repairs or installations that result in electrocution dangers in the home.
  • Workplace: If electrocution happens in the workplace when there are unsafe working conditions, defective machinery, or tools that malfunction in most situations.
  • At a Property: Electrocution incidents can occur at a property, if the person visiting is exposed to hazards or dangerous electric wires and other types of electricity that is unexpected or unseen.

Physical Reaction and Damage from Electrocution

When an individual has an electrocution or electrical shock accident, depending on the level of electricity and the location of the body that comes in contact with it can determine the amount of damages done to the person.
These can include:

  • Broken bones.
  • Headaches.
  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Weakness.
  • Unconsciousness.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Ruptured eardrums.
  • Loss of vision.
  • Memory loss.
  • Deformity where contact occurred.
  • Severe burns.
  • Cardiac arrhythmia.
  • Heart fibrillation.
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Permanent heart muscle damage.
  • Internal organ damage.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Neuropathy (nerve cells failing to function properly).
  • Loss of cognitive abilities.
  • Brain damage.
  • Changes in personality or temperament.
  • Respiratory failure.
  • Spine injury.
  • Seizures.
  • Renal failure

Types of Organ Damage from Electrocution Injuries

In an electric shock injury or electrocution incident there can be damage to the organs that include:
  • Integumentary System: In the event that a person comes in contact with electricity the skin and soft tissue are often damaged. They often suffer severe burns, depending on the amount of current they come in contact with, and burns must have immediate medical attention.
  • Musculoskeletal System: During an electrocution incident, the victim is often thrown, after a short period of having current going through their body. The injuries that can be caused to the human body having electric current going through it can cause damage or trauma to the organs and the muscles. This type of damage can result in rhabdomyolsis and kidney damage. The individual, who has been harmed should be seen immediately by a trauma team.
  • Respiratory System: When an individual is electrocuted, the lungs are generally not damaged. This is due to the fact, that the lungs do not conduct electricity as good as other parts of the body. This does not mean the person cannot suffer respiratory arrest. If the current passes through the chest it causes a tightening of the muscles in the chest, which can result in respiratory arrest. If the electricity passes through the part of the brain, which controls breathing it can also result in respiratory arrest.
  • Cardiovascular System: Electrocution can directly affect the heart in a way that depending on the amount of electricity can cause a fluttering of the ventricles, ventricular fibrillation, or a lack of cardiac rhythm. Each of these can result in death if the person does not receive immediate medical treatment.
  • Central Nervous System: When an individual is electrocuted, they can suffer head and spinal cord injuries, which are not necessarily due to the current going through the body. Instead, it is when they are thrown away from the source of the electric current, especially if they are thrown from a height, like being thrown from a ladder.

There can be ongoing complications after being electrocuted and having damage to the central nervous system, which can include:

  • Psychiatric issues like anxiety and depression.
  • Seizures.
  • Delayed spinal cord injuries.

Treatment of Electrocution Injury

The person who suffers this type of injury should have immediate medical attention, even if the harm does not appear to be extensive. Individuals who survive this kind of harm may have a painful and lengthy recovery time. Medical attention is necessary immediately and for an ongoing amount of time, especially if there has been permanent damage to the body.

Parties Who can be Responsible for Electrocution Injuries

When an individual, employer or company is irresponsible in ensuring the safety of consumers, workers or visitors they can be held liable for their negligence, if a person suffers an electric shock or electrocution accident as a result of their actions or by not acting. There are laws that ensure the victim or the family of a loved one is fatally electrocuted to protect their rights and hold the negligent party accountable.

These laws include:

  • Workers Compensation law.
  • Personal injury law and negligence.
  • Premises liability law.
  • Product liability law.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of an electric shock or electrocution incident, which was caused by the negligence of another individual or entity, it is essential to contact a personal injury attorney. The legal advocate can assist in recovering compensation for past and future medical expenses, loss of wages, permanent disability and other damages. The bottom line is that one must consult a qualified legal advocate, who has the negotiation and litigation skills to obtain compensation in electrocution accidents when they are overcome with incidents such as those above discussed.

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