A $4.7 million dollar verdict has been awarded to the family of a man who died after being electrocuted while at work on an orchard.
The Farmworker’s Tragic Death
The victim was a man who had worked for the orchard for several years. One day, while picking fruit from trees, the 20-foot ladder that he was using came in contact with a low hanging power line. Electricity surged through the metal ladder so forcefully that flames erupted on the bottom of the ladder. The victim twitched, foamed at the mouth, and dropped to the ground. He died instantly. His brother, who was working on a nearby tree, witnessed the entire scene.
His Family’s Allegations
When the accident was investigated, it was determined that the power lines that came in contact with the metal ladder had been worked on by crews just a month and a half earlier. The investigation noted that the lines were only 18’ 10’’ from the ground – and very close to the fruit trees.
The family of the deceased pursued legal action against the electric company which owns and operates the line, alleging that the company was negligent because they failed to keep the lines at a standard height of 25’’.
The plaintiffs also filed a complaint against the site supervisor and the employer, stating that it was their job to keep their employee safe and that they failed to do so when they didn’t warn him about the low wires.
After hearing all arguments, the jury determine that the electric company was 80% at fault, the employer was 15% at fault, and the on-site supervisor was 5% at fault. They awarded a total of $4.75 million to the plaintiffs in the verdict.
Electrocution: The Shocking Facts
Nearly 40% of all fatal electrocutions occur in the workplace. An average of 411 workers become victims every year and many wonder why the numbers are still so high.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has provided construction workers and their employers with Electrical Safety Standards training opportunities. OSHA has also set safety standards that are designed to protect employees who will be exposed to electrical hazards. These standards address:
- information on wiring design
- the requirements for electrical protective devices
- wiring methods
- the proper height of hanging power lines
- safety practices on the work site
Despite these efforts, electrical accidents on construction sites happen every day. Typically these accidents occur due to the negligence of a contractor, subcontractor, property owner, or manager who failed to follow these standards.
Victims who survive the accident frequently suffer from any number of serious conditions as a result, such as:
When electricity flows through the body to the heart, it can disrupt the heartbeat and cause a heart attack. Depending on how high the voltage is, the electrical current can also permanently damage the tissue and muscles of the heart.
Not only can the actual contact with the the current result in burns on any part of the body, the force of the electricity can cause clothing or other materials to catch fire.
Blunt Force Trauma
Many don’t think of this as a typical injury associated with electrocution, but the fact is that the electrical energy causes the victim’s muscles to contract so violently that they can fall and injure themselves by hitting the hard ground or inanimate objects.
Damage To The Eye
Corneal burns, retinal detachment, uveitis, and intraocular hemorrhage are all injuries that victims may sustain.
Victims, or the families of those who have been killed in an electrocution accident, have the right to explore their legal options. By doing so, they could potentially recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and funeral and burial costs.