Electrocution Injury FAQs


What is electrocution?

Electrocution, which can lead to death, is caused by any type of electric shock due to exposure to high voltage electricity. Small currents (70 mA –  700 mA) may cause fibrillation in the heart, which can be reversed with a defibrillator. Large currents (> 1 A) may cause permanent damage via burns, and cellular damage.

Factors that determine the extent and severity of an electrocution injury include:

  • Amount of voltage encountered
  • Duration of contact with current
  • Pathway of electricity through the body
  • Type of circuit
  • Type of current
How does electrocution happen?

In the Workplace: Electrocution in the workplace often occurs due to unsafe working conditions, or malfunctioning or defective machinery or tools.

In the Home: Electrocutions in the home often occur from malfunctioning or defective products, such as appliances, power tools, or medical devices. Children can be electrocuted by unsafe children’s products. Also, faulty installations or repairs could result in electrocution.

On someone else’s Property: Electrocution can happen anywhere that visitors are exposed to dangerous electricity in unexpected places.

What are the causes of electric shock or electrocution?
  • Accidental contact between metal and electricity. For example, this can occur from a ladder touching an exposed electrical current at a construction site.
  • Accidental contact with exposed electrical sources. This can occur due to contact with an appliance or wiring.
  • Electrical arc flashed from power lines
  • Faulty electrical wiring.
  • Lightning.
  • Products such as hair dryers, microwaves, and other electricity-powered items.
  • Unintentional or accidental contact with a power line. This can occur during a car accident or construction.
  • Unsafe commercial kitchen or industrial environment.
What are the common physical reactions to electrocution?
  • Brain and other nerve damage
  • Broken bones
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Cataracts (loss of vision)
  • Changes in temperament or personality
  • Deformity at point of contact
  • Headaches
  • Hearing loss
  • Heart fibrillation (fluttery muscular contractions that cause cardiac arrest)
  • Internal organ damage
  • Loss of cognitive abilities
  • Memory loss
  • Neuropathy (failure of nerve cells to function properly)
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Permanent heart muscle damage
  • Renal failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Ruptured eardrums
  • Seizures
  • Severe burns
  • Spine injury
  • Unconsciousness
  • Weakness
What organ systems can be damaged by an electrocution injury?

Cardiovascular system injury:

Asystole, which is the lack of a cardiac rhythm or a “flatline”, or ventricular fibrillation, which is chaotic and useless fluttering of the ventricles, can occur due to an electrocution injury. These two rhythms are lethal and can result in death if not immediately treated.

Respiratory system injury:

The lungs are rarely damaged during electrocution because they do not conduct electricity well. Unfortunately, when the current passes through the chest and causes tetany of the chest muscles, this can cause respiratory arrest. Also, when electricity goes through the part of the brain that controls breathing, the victim may suffer respiratory arrest.

Central nervous system injury:

Head and spinal cold injuries mainly occur due to blunt trauma, and victims of electrocution largely fall from heights or are thrown from the source of the electricity. It is important that anyone who suffers from an electrocution be assumed to have a spinal cord injury unless otherwise determined. Long-term complications from electrocution to the central nervous system may include:

  • Damage to the peripheral nerves
  • Delayed spinal cord injuries
  • Psychiatric issues such as depression or anxiety
  • Seizures
Musculoskeletal system injury:

Due to extended tetany, damage to muscles may occur and cause rhabdomyolysis and kidney damage. Many injuries, such as fractures, burns, or trauma to organs may occur due to electrocution. Victims who fall or are thrown due to their electrocution must seek immediate attention from a trauma team.

Integumentary system:

The skin and soft tissues are often most affected due to electrocution. Severe burns must be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible.

Electrocution Data & Statistics

Approximately 1000 fatalities and 3000 admissions to burn centers are due to electrical injuries annually. The most common age groups that suffer electrocution are toddlers and adolescents.

What is the treatment for electrocution injury?*

Survivors of electrocution may have a lengthy and painful road to recovery with overwhelming medical expenses, loss of wages, or permanent disability.

Any time a victim is electrocuted, medical attention must be sought immediately. If you or a loved one has been the victim of electric shock or electrocution due to another’s negligence or carelessness, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. for a free consultation.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

Who is responsible for an electrocution injury?

There are various laws that can help a victim of electrocution or the victim’s family receive compensation. Such laws are:

  • Negligence and Personal Injury laws
  • Premises liability laws
  • Product liability laws
  • Workers compensation laws

Please contact Swartz & Swartz, P.C. to consult with a personal injury attorney regarding the best approach to obtaining compensation for electrocution injuries.

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