Big snow storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and other catastrophic weather systems cause many deaths and injury by virtue of their dangerous winds and torrential rainfall. But such storms also cause downed power lines and other electrical failures which can cause injuries and fatalities as well. If you or someone you love is injured or killed by a downed power line, then you or the injured person may be entitled to recover under South Carolina negligence law. Likewise, if you are injured in an electrical fire or any other electricity-related accident due to the fault of an electrician, you may be entitled to sue for personal injury. In such an event, you will need proven Greenville SC personal injury lawyers like those at David R. Price, Jr., P.A..
Personal Injury In Greenville SC: How Does Electricity Injure and Kill?
According to the US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), contact with electricity causes injury mostly through some level of burning, but can also cause injury as a result of involuntary muscle contractions. See OSHA information page here.
The severity of the injury depends on the strength of the current (measured in amperes) and the length of the contact. Other factors include the person’s general health, whether the person is grounded and whether and how much moisture is present or nearby. According to OSHA, the following injuries result from being electrocuted for one second head to foot based on the amperes:
- 1 mA — Slight tingling sensation. Still dangerous under certain conditions.
- 5mA — Slight shock felt; not painful but disturbing; generally the individual can let go; but strong involuntary muscle reactions may lead to injury.
- 6mA – 16mA — Painful shock, begin to lose muscular control; many people have trouble opening their hand or otherwise moving to break the circuit.
- 17mA – 99mA — Extreme pain, respiratory arrest, severe muscular contractions; most cannot let go resulting in sustained electrocution; the longer the current runs through a person’s body, the more severe the injuries; death is possible.
- 100mA – 2000mA — Uneven, uncoordinated pumping of the heart; severe muscular contractions and nerve damage; death is likely.
- > 2,000mA — Heart failure, internal organ damage, severe burns; death is probable.
Personal Injury In Greenville SC: Who Is Responsible For Electrical Accidents?
As with all types of accidents and personal injury, the person or company that is at fault is responsible for paying the medical bills and expenses of the victim. Under South Carolina law, that determination is made under the legal doctrine of negligence. The four elements that must be proved to win a negligence case are: duty, breach, causation and injury.
Who is ultimately responsible is dependent on the facts of the case. Take, for example, downed power lines after a storm here in Greenville, SC. Duke Power probably owns and maintains the power lines. Thus, Duke Power has the duty to keep the power lines safe including a duty to repair the lines as quickly as possible if lines are brought down by a storm. Thus, as a practical matter, whether and to what extent the power company is responsible for a death or injury often depends on how many minutes or hours elapsed after the company received notice of the hazard, and what was done to fix the downed line(s). There are also various safety devices and equipment that are supposed to engage when a power line falls. These are supposed to interrupt power so the downed line is no longer carrying current. Whether the power company was negligent might depend on whether it properly maintained the safety equipment.
There are other potential parties at fault including:
- City workers and emergency crews — failure to close roads and/or set up warnings;
- Emergency dispatch operators — delays in or failures to notify the power company upon receipt of a call that a power line is down;
- Medical providers — failure to properly treat injuries;
- Equipment manufacturers — design flaws and failures; and
- Equipment installers — improper installation of safety equipment contributing to injury/death.
For electrical accidents that occur unconnected to a downed power line, often the most likely culprit is the electrician or construction company that installed the circuit board, wiring and other electrical equipment.
Greenville SC Personal Injury Attorneys: Call David R. Price, Jr. P.A. Today
If you or someone you know has suffered an electrical injury or death, contact the skilled and courtroom-tested Greenville SC personal injury lawyers at David R. Price, Jr., P.A. Contact our office today via email or telephone at (864) 271-2636. We can help ensure that your legal rights are protected and we will help you recover compensation from the person responsible for causing your injuries, including compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and more. Call David R. Price, Jr. PA today for assistance.