Kansas City Electrocution Claims
Perhaps one of the most serious sources of injury and fatality comes from the electricity we use every day, in the form of electrocution. As with other major cities, Kansas City residents use electricity for just about everything—ranging from transportation, to household appliances and even handheld devices—meaning that the risk of serious injury from electrocution is always within arm’s reach, and is often underestimated by consumers nationwide.
At Wagstaff & Cartmell, we see an unfortunate number of electrocution victims who have been debilitating injured as a result of electric shock. While electrocution technically means death by electric shock, any injury resulting from electricity is considered electrocution under Missouri law. If you or a family member has been seriously injured or killed as a result of electric shock, there is a high chance that negligence or product liability was involved, and this may entitle you to compensation for the damages sustained.
- The number of electrical fatalities in 2016 saw a 15 percent increase from 2015.
- There are an average of 411 deaths per year from electrocution in occupational jobs (ie construction).
- In 2016, 53 percent of all fatal electrical injuries occurred in the Construction industry.
- Electrocutions from wiring hazards, including damaged or exposed wiring and household wiring, make up about 20 percent of annual electrocution injuries.
- Contact with as little as 20 milliamps (mA) can be fatal or result in serious injury. For reference, common household circuit breakers may be rated 15, 20 or 30 amps (1000 mA = 1 Amp).
Why is Electricity so Damaging?
Electrocution causes severe damage all over the body, and many injuries caused by electrocution are long-lasting, if not permanent. Burns are among the most common types of injury that result from electrocution, and electrical burns can range from mild to extremely severe—sometimes spanning multiple skin layers and damaging tissues under the skin. In many cases, this dead skin and tissue must be removed to protect any remaining healthy skin and tissues in the surrounding areas. Physical damage can also occur if the victim is thrown while being electrocuted.
Severe electrocution can also result in systemic conditions that affect multiple parts of the body, such as nerve and spinal cord damage across the body. This may result in the loss of sensation or motion, and in the most severe cases can result in partial or total paralysis. In addition, entire organs or organ systems may also be damaged by electrocution, causing respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, kidney damage, muscle damage and tissue damage. Unfortunately, these side effects are often fatal to victims of electrocution.
Finally, victims of electrocution can also experience severe psychological complications either immediately after shock, or later in life. These include severe depression, anxiety, aggression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Because electrocution can affect the physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing of a victim so severely, medical costs tend to run extremely high for survivors of electrocution. In the most extreme electrocution costs, medical expenses can exceed over $4 million due to the severity and (often) multiple affected areas on the body.
As mentioned previously, electrocution can result from contact with any number of devices which use electricity for power, ranging from high-voltage power lines to exposed wiring in your home. Common reasons that electrocution occurs include:
- Making contact with an exposed wire on a product or power line;
- Hitting an underground and/or buried cable while digging;
- Contact with a powerline downed by a storm or accident; and
- Equipment contact with a powerline hanging too low to the ground.
What to do if Someone is Electrocuted
Witnessing someone being electrocuted can be a terrifying ordeal. Because the risk of injury and death is so high, many people will do everything they can to save a victim as quickly as possible from danger. However, doing so impulsively may put others at risk of being electrocuted as well.
If you see someone being electrocuted, it is critical that you turn off the source of electricity without making direct contact with the victim or the source yourself. This may be as simple as finding a light switch or a circuit breaker, but may be complicated if the source cannot be turned off, such as if contact is made with a power line. In this instance, a non-conductive material (such as plastic, dry wood or rubber) may be used to forcibly separate the source of electricity from the victim, but this should only be done with extreme caution if no other alternatives exist.
It is also imperative that once the source is cut off or separated from the victim that you do not rush to aid them right away until you are absolutely certain that they are not in contact with the source. Our bodies are extremely conductive to electricity, and if you happen to make contact with them prematurely, you will also begin conducting electricity yourself and will be at risk of electrocution.
Once a victim has been completely separated from the source of electricity, you may begin to assess their injuries and perform any necessary first aid such as burn treatment or CPR. Because many effects of electrocution may not be superficially noticeable, it is important to call 911 right away once a victim is separated from the electrical source, especially if there if they are unconscious, visibly pale or faint, or otherwise severely injured.
Filing an Electrocution Claim
Because we use electricity every single day, there is unfortunately no way to completely eliminate the risk of electrocution short of not using electric-powered technology whatsoever. Electrical companies and product manufacturers go through great lengths to ensure that consumer safety is at the forefront of their practices, but too often mistakes are made that have serious—and deadly—consequences.
Fortunately, our team of attorneys is well-versed in the laws surrounding electrocution cases, and we have successfully represented clients who have suffered at the hands of a negligent person, business or electrical company that has failed to keep them safe. We pride ourselves on our compassion and efficacy, and will focus on all legal matters to allow you to focus on what is most important in this difficult time—recovery.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed by electrocution causes by negligent or hazardous conditions, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries you have sustained. Contact us today to discuss your case and begin the process of seeking justice against those responsible for your electrocution injuries.