Numerous industries expose workers to all manner of electrical hazards every day -- and electrical injuries can be among the most catastrophic anyone can face. That's why it's so important to understand who is responsible when an electrical injury happens on the job.
The dangers of electricity to the American workforce
Based on statistics released in Dec. 2017 by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), the number of fatalities caused by exposure to electricity increased by 15 percent between 2015 and 2016 alone. Slightly more than half of all fatal electrical injuries occurred in construction. The number of fatalities has been gradually increasing for several years in a row.
Burns and shocks are distressingly common in construction work, but they can also happen in factory work, repair work and just about any other type of occupation that requires employees to work with electrical equipment or electrical wires.
The high price of an electrical injury
Even when death isn't the result of a shock, it can take a worker a long time to recover -- if they ever do -- from a serious jolt of electric current. For example, burns to a worker's hands and the resulting nerve damage may leave them unable to work ever again. Brain damage, heart damage and blindness are also possible. All can limit someone's ability to earn a living forever.
Costs associated with an electric shock include hospital and doctor bills, therapy bills and medication. The lost time from work and lost future earnings have to be considered. There may be expenses associated with in-home nursing care, wheelchairs and other durable medical supplies.
The difficulty of claiming compensation
If you're an employee who is injured by an electrical current, your employer might not hesitate to compensate you. However, what if you're an independent contractor or a subcontractor working on a construction site? In those cases, you might be forced to press a personal injury claim instead. Sometimes there may even be third parties involved in the situation -- such as when faulty equipment caused a shock.
If you're unsure if you're entitled to workers' compensation or a personal injury claim -- or both -- due to a catastrophic electrical injury, an attorney can help you learn more about your rights.