Electricity is such a constant presence in our lives, it is easy to forget how dangerous and deadly the force can be. Problems with wiring, product design and building maintenance injure and kill Americans every day.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International notes that “the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that nearly 400 people are electrocuted in the U.S. each year.”
The foundation also writes that
Over the last ten years, more than 30,000 workers have been injured in workplace electrical accidents. While electrical hazards are not the leading cause of on-the-job injuries and accidents, they are disproportionately fatal and costly. These injuries not only disrupt the lives of the workers and their families, but also impact the productivity of employers.
- Explaining North Carolina’s Contributory Negligence Rule
- When Does an Electric Shock Injury on the Job Provide Grounds for a Third-Party Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Electrocutions kill, while electric shocks can produce more than more than 60 physical and cognitive/emotional symptoms, ranging from convulsions and amputations of damaged limbs to panic attacks, mood swings and paralysis. But what rights do victims of electric shocks have?
Technically, anyone harmed by electrical wiring or an electronic device has the same rights to file insurance claims or pursue a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit as the victim of a car crash. I qualify that because the laws of North Carolina make it difficult for electric shock victims to hold negligent employers, property owners and product makers accountable.
A major hurdle that must be overcome is usually an accusation of contributory negligence. As I note elsewhere on this website, “North Carolina, along with Virginia, is one of four remaining states or jurisdictions that follow the rule that contributory negligence is a complete bar to recovery by the plaintiff, burden of proof on defendant to prove by the greater weight of the evidence. The doctrine was judicially established in North Carolina.”
When a hotel, homeowner or consumer products company gets presented with an electric shock claim, the first response is often to counterargue that the shock victim tampered with the wiring or misused the device and put themselves at risk. Partnering with an experienced North Carolina electric shock injury lawyer is often necessary to complete the extensive investigation required to disprove an accusation of contributory negligence.
The second major obstacle electric shock victims run into involves workers’ compensation rules. In North Carolina and many other states, an employee who gets hurt on the job is barred from suing his or her employer. The sole means of recovering medical expenses and making up lost wages is to file a worker’s comp application.
In some cases, however, a worker can file what amounts to a product liability claim against the company that made a faulty tool or improperly wired a structure. Such legal actions are called third-party lawsuits, and succeeding with one in North Carolina requires showing that the company named as a defendant knew or should have known that its product or work put other people at risk for suffering injuries.
Our North Carolina electric shock injury law firm has succeeded in helping clients defeat accusations of contributory negligence and to hold third parties accountable. Just because a case is tough to win does not mean that it cannot be won.