Electric Shock Injury Basics | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

You see warning signs like the one to the left everywhere. You’re taught from the youngest age to take the cation seriously, and you have almost surely lived by the rule of leaving any electrical work more involved than changing batteries and replacing light bulbs to trained professionals.

Avoiding electric shock and electrocution hazards is not always an option, however. I often think back to a case our Virginia personal injury law firm handled for a commercial airline pilot who nearly died after suffering a shock and serious fall in a hotel room. The man had raised his arm while showering, and he grazed an exposed llight fixture that that lacked a cover, Essentially, the case involved negligent maintenance. Hotel management created a potentially deadly hazard to our client.



In light of that story, it is important to explain the difference between an electric shock injury and an electrocution. Our client was shocked and almost died. Had he been electrocuted, he would have lost his life. Risks for shocks that are serious enough to badly injure a person abound. Electrocution risks are fewer, but should never be ignored.

An electric shock that is serious enough to send someone to the hospital can produce a wide array of debilitating and disabling symptoms from which the victim may never fully recover. These include

  • Internal burns,
  • Skin burns,
  • Muscle spasms,
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet,
  • Breathing problems,
  • Persistent headaches,
  • Trouble seeing and hearing properly,
  • Irregular heart rhythms,
  • Seizures,
  • Memory loss, and
  • Limited range of motion from scarring.

No One Is Ever Completely Safe From Electric Shock Hazards

Individuals’ health and lives are endangered by

  • Defective products and appliances,
  • Poorly wired light fixtures and outlets,
  • Exposed or ungrounded wires in pools and on docks,
  • Damaged equipment in factories and at other jobsites, and
  • Downed powerlines.

Such potential harms are often created by negligence. Property or business owner fail to make necessary repairs. Managers fail to ensure that crew members follow proper lockout and tagout procedures. Contractors take inappropriate shortcuts. Manufacturers do not follow best practices for assembling and inspecting products. In any of these scenarios, an injured victim or the family of an electrocuted individual could have grounds for filing a lawsuit.

The plaintiff in a personal injury or wrongful death case can request compensation for

  • Medical expenses incurred as a result of suffering the injury, including the costs for ongoing treatments, physical and occupational therapy, and future surgeries;
  • Lost wages due to spending time out of work while recovering or due to the death of a person who contributed significantly to household income;
  • Loss of future earnings due to being forced to stop working, having to take a lower-paying job, or dying;
  • Pain and suffering from experiencing the shock and resulting health problems; and
  • Emotional distress or noneconomic losses such as loss of companionship and loss of caregiving.