Though we often do not realize it in New York, power lines run throughout our city in an underground series of wires. This utility system supplies power to everything in our daily lives, from our apartment’s appliances to major construction sites to even our cars now. With so much energy around us, it is almost inevitable that someone can become injured due to an electric shock, but oftentimes it is the fault of a negligent property owner, dangerous product, or poor building planning.
Injuries Caused by Electric Shock
The severity of injury from electric shocks can depend on several factors, ranging from the type of current to the amount of voltage involved. In some cases, the victim’s health can be a major factor, as heart disease may predate the possibility of cardiac arrest. In addition, treatment after being shocked is imperative, as most of the damage may be internal and require a full medical review to identify and treat.
When assessing the long-term effects of your injury, medical professionals may have to evaluate:
- The type of current
- How the current traveled through the body
- Your overall health
- How quickly emergency medical treatment was received
In general, most electrical accidents lead to:
- Electrical burns
- Internal damage to the organs
- Nerve damage and paralysis
- Soft tissue injuries
- Brain injuries sustained in a fall
- Cardiac arrest
All of these injuries will require medical treatment to fully heal from, especially if there is internal damage. Victims may need extended stays at a hospital, multiple surgeries, physical and cognitive therapy, and adjustments to their homes if they are left disabled by the shock. At the end of the day, electric shocks cannot simply be walked off and can lead to even more dangerous situations.
Risks of Building Fires
Alongside the risk of direct contact with electricity, faulty electrical wires or components can also lead to building fires. Despite safeguards to prevent these terrifying events, electrical fires occur much too frequently, especially in apartment buildings that have older electrical systems. Fire hazards can exist when electrical systems were not professionally installed, upgraded, or maintained, resulting in electrical faults. These errors can result in:
- Arc faults: Electric arc faults involve light electrical discharge through the insulating material, typically accompanied by the vaporization of electrodes. The center of the gap across which an arc occurs can reach astronomical temperatures. Arc faults are often the result of aging installations, loose terminals, or crushed cables.
- Electrical overloads: A rise in current exceeding capacity of a cable can cause it to overheat and start a fire. A circuit is designed for a very specific amount of current to flow through it. When the rated load is exceeded, the internal wiring system may ignite a fire.
- Short circuits: This can happen when two conductors come into contact, shorting out the circuit. A common example of this is when water touches an exposed wire or outlet, or when a piece of metal becomes lodged in a socket. It can cause the current to increase and the temperature of the conductors to rise, potentially starting a fire.
- Leakage current: Electrical insulation can become degraded over time. There may be corrosion or excessive moisture. Any of these conditions, often found in older, rundown facilities, can cause the electrical current to move toward the ground or nearby conductive elements. This is not only a fire risk but can also lead to an electric shock or fatal electrocution.
Electrical fires are often the fault of a property owner, but other tenants in a residential building or business can also share some of the fault if they performed maintenance themselves on the building’s wiring or installed dangerous equipment that caused an overload.
How to Recover Compensation for Electric Shock Injuries
Several hazardous components can result in an electric shock, from faulty wiring in an apartment building to defective construction equipment to poorly manufactured products. Thus, liability for electrical injuries will ultimately come down to the cause of the injury and who was responsible for preventing it. This can vary between a premises liability claim, wherein the property owner is at fault for improper maintenance, to a product liability claim, where a manufacturer or retailer sold a faulty product, to even a workers’ compensation claim if an employee or negligent supervisor caused the injury.
To file a claim for damages due to an electric shock, you must demonstrate that:
- A party owed you a duty of care
- That party failed to fulfill that duty of care
- That failure resulted in your injuries
- Your injuries included some form of financial costs
Successfully holding a party at fault for electric shock injuries is not a simple task on your own. You will need to determine who caused your injuries, if negligence occurred, the overall costs of your injuries, review the at-fault party’s insurance policy, and negotiate with an insurance adjuster for compensation. This requires a significant amount of time and resources, which can be difficult while you are recovering from your injuries. That is why contacting a skilled attorney could be your best bet at recovering compensation.
If you or someone you love has sustained electrical injuries due to the negligence of another party, it is in your best interest to speak with a New York personal injury lawyer at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, as soon as possible. Our legal team will need to launch an in-depth investigation to recover all evidence that can support your case, from maintenance logs to witness statements. We thoroughly prepare every case as though it is going to trial and can aggressively pursue compensation in a variety of cases on your behalf. Contact us at (212) 986-7353 to find out if you have a case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.