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Electrical Burn Injury Lawsuits


Understanding Electrical Burn Injuries

Electrical burns are a unique and serious type of injury that can have profound consequences for those affected. Unlike thermal burns caused by external heat sources or chemical burns resulting from corrosive substances, electrical burns occur when an electric current passes through the body, causing damage both at the point of contact and internally.

The impact of electrical burns is complex, involving a range of injuries from skin lesions to deep tissue damage, and can also affect the heart and muscles due to the conductive nature of human tissue. Electrical injuries can be classified into various types, such as flash, arc, and flame burns, each with distinct characteristics and implications for treatment and recovery.

Regardless of the type of electrical burn sustained in a negligence-related accident, the injury can have both short and long-term consequences for the affected individual. In the immediate aftermath, victims may experience severe pain, swelling, and potentially cardiac arrest or respiratory issues due to the disruption of electrical signals within the body. This could necessitate urgent medical interventions and prolonged hospitalization.

In the longer term, survivors may face chronic pain, scarring, and mobility issues stemming from deep tissue damage. Also, psychological effects, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety, can persist and complicate the rehabilitation process. Effective management of electrical burns requires a multidisciplinary approach to address both the immediate and prolonged health challenges faced by victims.

Common Causes of Electrical Burns

Electrical burns often arise from situations where safety measures fail or are not adequately implemented. For instance, workplace accidents are a prevalent cause, particularly in environments where people are exposed to high-voltage equipment or live wires.

However, these injuries can occur outside of the workplace in a variety of other circumstances. Other common causes of electrical burn injuries include:

  • Defective products. Faulty electrical appliances, power tools, and extension cords can expose users to live wires or malfunction in ways that lead to electrical burns.
  • Improper wiring. Outdated or incorrectly installed electrical wiring in homes or workplaces can create a significant risk of electrical shock and burns.
  • Exposure to power lines. Accidental contact with downed power lines, or those during construction or maintenance activities, can cause severe electrical injury.
  • Lack of grounding. Improper grounding of electrical systems in buildings or equipment can lead to imbalances that increase the chance of electrical shock.
  • Water exposure. Electricity and water conduct electricity very well. If a homeowner or employer has electrical appliances near water sources or in wet environments, they significantly increase the risk of someone obtaining electrical burns.
  • Medical negligence. Improperly maintained equipment during surgery or procedures that utilize electrical currents can lead to malfunctions that cause burns to the patient. Also, a medical professional's failure to follow established protocols for defibrillation or other electrical treatments can result in unintended electrical contact and subsequent burns. In these scenarios, the healthcare provider's deviation from the accepted standard of care can directly cause or worsen electrical injuries.

In many of these scenarios, negligence plays a central role, whether it's on the part of employers not enforcing safety protocols, manufacturers cutting corners, or individuals (i.e property owners) not adhering to recommended guidelines for electrical safety. Establishing causation is important for pinpointing liability in such accident.

Elements of Negligence in Electrical Burn Cases

When pursuing an electrical burn injury claim, understanding the legal concept of negligence is critical, as you will need to prove the four elements of negligence when presenting your case. Negligence involves the following four key elements:

  • duty,
  • breach,
  • causation, and
  • damages.

Duty refers to the responsibility one party has to another to ensure safety or avoid harm. A breach is a failure to uphold this duty, which could be a company not providing proper safety equipment or an individual ignoring safety instructions.

Causation links the breach directly to the injury sustained, and damages refer to the actual harm suffered, both physically and financially. In electrical burn cases, proving these elements requires a thorough investigation and often hinges on expert testimony to establish the standard of care that was breached and how it led to the injury.

For example, let’s say John Doe, a tenant in an apartment building, was using his toaster when it malfunctioned. Sparks erupted from the appliance lug, causing John to grab it and try to pull it out instinctively; he received a severe electrical burn on his hand, and an investigation revealed the outlet he used had a faulty internal wiring that should have been identified during a routine safety inspection by the landlord.

John may have a strong negligence claim against the landlord for failing to uphold their duty of care:

  • Duty. The landlord has a duty to provide tenants with a safe living environment, which includes ensuring electrical appliances in common areas and those considered essential (like smoke detectors) are functional and hazard-free.
  • Breach of duty. By failing to conduct proper inspections or maintain the toaster in a safe condition, the landlord breached their duty of care to John.
  • Causation. The malfunctioning toaster, a result of the landlord's neglect, directly caused John's electrical burn injury.
  • Damages. John suffered a physical injury (electrical burn) that likely resulted in medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. These constitute compensable damages.

The Role of Expert Witnesses in Electrical Burn Cases

Expert witnesses are often the linchpin in electrical burn injury cases, providing the technical and medical insights necessary to substantiate claims of negligence and injury severity. These professionals, ranging from electrical engineers to medical professionals, can explain the cause of the accident, the extent of the injuries, and the potential for long-term effects.

Their testimony also helps to establish a clear connection between the defendant's actions (or inactions) and the harm suffered by the victim. In the courtroom, an expert's analysis can be compelling, translating complex technical details into understandable evidence that supports the victim's case.

Calculating Damages for Electrical Burn Victims

If you have sustained an electrical burn injury in South Carolina due to another party's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages—economic and non-economic.

Economic damages are those with a clear financial value and include:

  • Medical expenses: This covers all past, present, and future medical bills associated with your burn injury, including hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, medication, and therapy.
  • Lost wages: If your injuries prevent you from working or limit your earning capacity, you can recover compensation for lost wages and benefits.
  • Loss of future earning capacity: In severe cases, electrical burns can cause permanent disability, impacting your ability to work and earn a living. You may be entitled to compensation for the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury earning potential.
  • Property damage: This includes damage to clothing or other personal belongings burned in the electrical incident.

Calculating economic damages typically involves gathering documentation such as medical bills, pay stubs, and tax returns. An attorney can assist you in obtaining these documents and ensuring a comprehensive picture of your economic losses.

Non-economic damages are more subjective and compensate for the pain, suffering, and overall impact the injury has had on your life. These can include:

  • Pain and suffering: This covers the physical and emotional pain you have endured due to the burn injury.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: Electrical burns can significantly impact your ability to participate in activities you once enjoyed. Compensation can be sought for this loss of enjoyment.
  • Scarring and disfigurement: Electrical burns often leave permanent scars. You may be entitled to compensation for the physical and emotional distress caused by these scars.
  • Loss of consortium: If your injuries have impacted your marital relationship, your spouse may be able to recover compensation for this loss.

Non-economic damages are typically assigned a value by a jury, considering the severity of your injuries and the long-term impact they have had on your life. An experienced personal injury attorney can help effectively present the full scope of your non-economic losses to the court.

It is important to note that there is not a cap on non-economic damages in South Carolina electrical burn cases (generally). There are caps, however, on pain and suffering in medical malpractice claims.

Protecting Your Rights After an Electrical Burn Injury

After an electrical burn injury, choosing the right personal injury attorney is a decision that can significantly influence the outcome of your case. You will need to retain a lawyer with a proven track record in handling electrical burn cases, as they will be familiar with the specific challenges and nuances involved.

Look for attorneys who have successfully navigated similar claims and who can demonstrate a deep understanding of the medical and technical aspects of your case. The right attorney should not only be a skilled litigator but also a compassionate advocate who understands the profound impact the injury has had on your life.

Comprehensive & Compassionate Counsel

Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC is backed by nearly two centuries of collective experience. Should you or a loved one suffer electrical burn injuries, you can trust our team to offer you personalized representation.

With a proven track record of success, our attorneys are known for our compassionate approach to cases. We understand the emotional toll that legal challenges can take, and we are dedicated to providing supportive counsel during difficult times.

Suffered negligence-related electrical burn injuries? Contact us online or via phone at (843) 968-0886.

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