Wrongful Death Cases for Electrocution at Work

If your loved one died due to electrocution at work, you may be eligible to recover damages through a wrongful death case.

Electrical hazards are so prevalent on construction sites and in related industries that workers are at an unacceptable risk of electrocution (death from electrical shock). Many workers do not receive warnings about the present electrical dangers, so they do not take steps that could protect them from injuries and death.

Power tools and equipment on construction sites use electrical currents. Overhead power lines are a lethal risk at many job locations, causing the deaths of crane operators, workers in aerial buckets, and people working on rooftops, scaffolding, and ladders.

Electrocution Deaths in Construction and Related Industries

Most electrical injuries are not life-threatening, but some are fatal to the victim. Electricity kills when it causes a lethal level of damage to internal organs like the brain or heart, or overstimulation of the nervous system. People who die from electrocution often experience cardiac arrest.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists these five factors as indicative of whether a person will survive an electrical shock or die from electrocution:

  1. The strength of the electrical current,
  2. The path of the electrical current through the body,
  3. The duration of the electrical contact,
  4. The bodily damage sustained from the event, and
  5. The speed and quality of emergency medical care the person received.

How Contact with Electricity Can Be Fatal

The electrical current itself can cause a lethal amount of damage to the body, but that is not the only way a person can die from contact with electricity. If the electrical injury causes the worker to fall, the worker can die from a combination of electrical contact damage and injuries from the fall. Many electrocuted victims also suffer substantial internal and external burn injuries from their contact with electricity.

Getting workers' Compensation for a Fatal Electrocution at Work

Depending on the facts of your case, you might be eligible for workers' compensation death benefits if your loved one died from electrocution on the job site. Georgia workers’ compensation defines a compensable work-related claim as one that arises out of and in the course of employment.

The dependent spouse and minor children of an employee who dies on the job can file for workers’ compensation death benefits. The workers' compensation board will pay qualifying claims for funeral expenses up to the legal limit. Eligible dependents can also collect two-thirds of the decedent’s average weekly wage, up to the maximum amount.

Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim Against a Negligent Third Party

Georgia law allows you to pursue a negligence claim against someone who caused your loved one’s injury at work, as long as that third party does not work for the same employer that your loved one did. The workers' compensation board might demand some reimbursement if they paid workers’ compensation death benefits and you also recovered damages from the responsible third party.

Let’s say that your loved one worked for the general contractor on a construction site.

An excavation subcontractor’s worker crashed a backhoe into a utility pole. The pole broke, and a 7200V overhead power line fell next to your loved one, electrocuting him.

A mandatory drug test revealed that the backhoe driver was under the influence of controlled substances at the time of the accident, which impaired his ability to operate the equipment safely. The subcontractor knew that the driver took illegal drugs.

You can pursue a wrongful death action against both the subcontractor and the backhoe driver (defendants). The law will determine their liability using these four steps:

  1. The law will evaluate whether the defendants had a legal duty toward the decedent. Yes, they both had the duty to perform their activities in a reasonably safe manner on the construction site.
  2. If the defendants failed to live up to their legal duty of care, they were negligent. When the backhoe driver operated the equipment on the job site while impaired by drugs, he was negligent. When the subcontractor allowed a worker with a known drug habit to operate equipment on a construction site, the subcontractor was negligent.
  3. The negligence must be the cause of the accident. Both acts of negligence contributed to causing the accident.
  4. The harmed person must have suffered physical injuries as a result of the negligence. The injured person died from electrocution, clearly meeting the requirement of a physical injury.

Getting Legal Help for a Wrongful Death Claim for Electrocution at Work

Call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838 and claim your free consultation. We will talk with you, investigate what happened, and tell you if you might have a claim for workers' compensation or a wrongful death lawsuit or both. We provide this service at no cost or obligation to you.

Injuries on the job can involve two different areas of the law—workers' compensation and wrongful death actions. One misstep can affect your legal right to compensation for your loss. We will explain how these laws work and navigate you through the claims process and the courts.