Victims of electric shock (or the surviving family of an electrocution victim) can file a personal injury lawsuit against the parties responsible for the accident. Responsibility in an electric shock accident may be caused by negligence, recklessness, or a defective product.
Here are five key things to know:
- Typical defendants in electrocution lawsuits are the property owner and/or manager where the accident occurred.
- If the electrical equipment was faulty, victims can sue the manufacturers and retailers.
- Electrical burn injury victims can seek damages for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Families of people killed by electrocution can sue for wrongful death in pursuit of burial expenses and loss of financial support.
- Employees electrocuted on the job can file for workers’ compensation claim benefits.
Below, our electric shock lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about electric shock lawsuits:
- 1. Can I file a lawsuit after an electrical shock accident?
- 2. What damages are available?
- 3. Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit if a family member was electrocuted?
- 4. What should I do after an electrical shock accident?
- 5. Who is to blame for an electric shock accident?
- 6. Can I get compensation if I was partly to blame for the injury?
- 7. Workplace electrocution accidents
- 8. Common causes of electrical shock accidents
If you have further questions after reading this article, our electrocution injury attorneys invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.
Anyone injured in an electrical shock accident may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation. The party responsible for causing the accident may be liable to the injured party for damages.
In an electric shock personal injury lawsuit, the injured party will seek compensation for their losses and injuries. Damages in an electrocution injury case may include:
- Medical bills,
- Lost wages from missed work,
- Future loss of earnings,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Any other related losses and expenses.
1.1. Wrongful death by electrocution
If a family member was killed in an electrocution accident, certain surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit
- will allow the family to be compensated for their loss and
- is also a way to hold the person responsible for the accident liable for their actions.
1.2. Construction site electrocutions
Often times electrocution victims are construction workers electrocuted at job sites. In these workplace injury cases, construction injury lawsuits can focus on worker’s compensation benefits as well as recovery of damages against
- the employer,
- contractors and
- those responsible for unsafe conditions at the job site.
When someone is injured in an electric shock accident, compensatory damages are intended to put the plaintiff into a similar position they would have been but for the accident. Compensatory damages in a personal injury electruction lawsuit include both economic and non-economic damages, such as:
- Medical bills,
- Emergency medical treatment,
- Physical therapy,
- Prescription medications,
- Medical supplies,
- Lost earnings,
- Lost earning capacity,
- Loss of consortium,
- Compensation for scars or loss of a limb,
- Emotional pain,
- Court costs, and
- Pain and suffering.
2.1. Punitive damages
In some cases, punitive damages may also be available. Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, may be available when the defendant engaged in particularly bad behavior. This includes injuries caused by the defendant’s
- extreme recklessness, or
In deciding how much to award in punitive damages, the jury considers:
- How reprehensible the defendant’s conduct was;
- The relationship between the plaintiff’s harm and the amount of punitive damages; and
- What amount will punish the defendant and discourage future wrongful conduct by the defendant.1
Electrocution is death caused by electric shock. When a loved one is killed in an electrical accident, the deceased victim is not able to file a personal injury electrocution lawsuit.
However, a wrongful death lawsuit allows surviving family members to recover damages. Certain family members can file a lawsuit for damages when a loved one has died as the result of another’s wrongful actions.2
3.1. Wrongful death damages
The damages available under a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Funeral costs;3
- Burial expenses;
- Financial support the deceased would have earned during his or her lifetime;
- The reasonable value of household services the deceased would have provided;4
- Loss of gifts or benefits expected; and
- Compensation for the loss of companionship, protection, affection, and support.5
3.2. Who can sue for wrongful death
The eligible family members who can file a wrongful death claim depend on the specific state law. In California, the family members who can file a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Surviving spouse;
- Domestic partner;
- Grandchildren (if the deceased person’s children are deceased); or
- Anyone else who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by California intestate succession laws.
3.3. Survival actions v. wrongful death
In addition to a wrongful death lawsuit, a “survival” cause of action can also be filed. This type of claim is brought on behalf of the deceased’s estate to compensate for losses suffered by the victim from the wrongful act.6
Electrical shock accidents can range from causing a harmless shock to a deadly jolt of electricity. Anyone who has suffered an electrical shock should seek medical attention if the injured person has any of the following symptoms:
- Serious burns
- Loss of consciousness
- Cardiac arrest
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Heart problems
After someone has been injured by an electrical shock, that person should not be touched if they may still be in contact with the source of electricity. If possible, shut off the electrical source.
If the electric shock victim is injured or if there is an active hazardous source of electricity, you should call 9-1-1.
4.1. Seek legal help
The injury victim should also consider contacting an experienced accident attorney who handles electric shock accident cases. An electrocution lawyer can help
- navigate the personal injury claim process,
- deal with the insurance company, and
- fight to get full compensation for the injury victim and their family.
Liability in an electrocution case depends on a number of factors, including
- where the accident occurred,
- who was involved, and
- the source of the electric shock.
In most cases, electric shock accident claims are based on negligence. The negligent party is responsible for any damages caused by their wrongful actions.
To recover damages after an injury accident, the plaintiff claiming negligence must prove the following elements:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care;
- The defendant breached that duty of care through negligence; and
- The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing harm or death.7
Example: Otis put up his Christmas lights which were mangled from his dog chewing on the cords. His friend Phil received a shock and burns from them when Otis asked him to unplug them. If Philip sues, he could show Otis was negligent in not warning him about the exposed wires.
When an employee is negligent in causing an accident, the employer may be held liable for the employee’s actions. Under “Respondeat Superior” laws, an employer can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of the employees.8
When an electrical shock occurs on someone else’s property, the property owner may be liable for dangerous conditions that existed on their property. Under “premises liability” laws, property owners and occupiers owe others a duty of care to maintain their property and warn others about any dangerous conditions.
In a premises liability personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove:
- The defendant owned, occupied, or controlled the property;
- The defendant was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property;
- The plaintiff was harmed;
- The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm.9
An injury victim may still be able to recover damages, even if he or she was partly to blame for the accident. In a state that follows “comparative fault” law, the plaintiff can still recover damages based on the level of fault of the defendants.
For example, if a property owner was 80% at fault for failing to warn visitors about exposed wires and the plaintiff was 20% at fault for touching the wires, the plaintiff may be able to recover 80% of damages from the defendant.
The workplace is one of the most common places where electric shock and electrocution accidents occur. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, 116 workers died from electrocution at work. This was a 3.75% increase in all on-the-job fatalities over the prior year.10
In 2020, there were 2,380 nonfatal electrical injuries on the job requiring days off of work. On average, these nonfatal accidents required 1 or 2 days away from work to recover from the electrical accident, though 21% of the victims needed more than a month off work.11
7.1. Riskiest jobs and reasons for electrocutions
Workplaces with the highest rates of electrical accidents and electrocution rates in the U.S. include:
- Mining industry
- Construction workers
- Utility workers (such as from power companies)
- Medical workers
- Maintenance workers
According to OSHA, most electrical accidents result from one of the following:
- contact with underground, subtransmission, and overhead power lines,
- insufficient ground-fault protection,
- path to ground discontinuous or not there,
- wrongly used equipment, and
- improper use of flexible and extension cords12
7.2. Workers’ compensation for electrical accidents
When an injury occurs in the workplace, the claim is often covered by workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation provides medical care and lost income payments for individuals who are injured on the job.
Employees injured on the job generally do not have to show the employer was at fault to get workers’ comp.
Workers’ comp after an electric shock accident generally covers medical expenses and lost wages. However, other damages that are available in a personal injury electrocution lawsuit may not be available in a workers’ comp claim, such as noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.
Aside from workplace electrical accidents, common causes of electrocution include:
- Children inserting objects in open electrical outlets;
- Downed power lines after a storm;13
- Fallen power lines in water;
- Old wiring;
- Defective power tools;
- Electric appliances coming into contact with water;
- Loose connectors;
- Wiring not according to code/faulty wiring;
- Cutting through walls into electrical wires;
- Bypassing electrical safety features; and
- Improper grounding.
8.1. Electrocution injuries
Electric shock injuries can cause damage to the skin and internal organs, particularly if there were high-voltage electrical currents. When electricity comes into contact with the body, it can cause the following serious injuries often seen in electrocution lawsuits:
- Cardiac arrest;
- Muscle and tissue damage;
- Nerve damage;
- Thermal burns;
- Injuries from falling after an electric shock;
- Brain damage and traumatic brain injury;
- Loss of consciousness; or
For questions about electrocution lawsuits or to discuss your case confidentially with one of our skilled California personal injury attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We have years of experience in all types of cases, from car accidents to medical malpractice.
Our personal injury lawyers have local law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities in northern, central, and southern California.
Our electrocution accident lawyers can meet with you in person or over the phone.
- California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3940 – Punitive Damages. See also California Civil Code § 3294 (“(a) In an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant.”)
- California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60.
- Vander Lind v. Superior Court (1983) 146 Cal.App.3d 358.
- See California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3921.
- Same. See also Allen v. Toledo (1980) 109 Cal.App.3d 415. LADWP settles lawsuit over 2021 electrocution death of dad, daughter in Panorama City, Fox 11 ()(“Acknowledging that “serious failures contributed to this tragedy,” the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Monday announced the settlement of a lawsuit over the fatal 2021 electrocutions of a father and daughter who came into contact with a downed power line — with an agency spokesperson confirming the settlement amount to be $38 million.”).
- Code of Civil Procedure 377.30 – Decedent’s Cause of Action.
- California Civil Jury Instructions (“CACI”) 400. See also California Civil Code section 1714(a).
- Perez v. Van Groningen & Sons, Inc. (1986) 41 Cal.3d 962, 967.
- California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017) 1000. Premises Liability. Essential Factual Elements.
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) News Release Region 7 (November 9, 2021).
- Nonfatal Work Injuries Caused by Exposure to Electricity in 2020, National Fire Protection Association.
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), Electricity.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Protect Yourself and Others from Electrical Hazards After a Disaster.