If you have experienced an electric shock injury in the workplace, at home, or in a public place as a result of negligence you may have a claim for compensation. There is obviously a need to prove negligence on behalf of your employer, or any other third party, so we will now take a look at electric shock compensation claims in more detail.
Occupations Most At Risk Of Electric Shock Injury
The fact that electric is used in homes and business premises all around the country means that electric shocks can occur literally anywhere. Over the years a number of occupations have emerged as potentially at greater risk of electric shock accidents which include the likes of:
- Electrical maintenance.
- Theatre production.
The most obvious at risk occupation is that of an electrician but any occupation which involves large amounts of electronic machinery and potential exposure to water can create a cocktail of danger.
Typical Causes Of Electric Shock Injuries In The Workplace
Employers are obliged under their duty of care to their employees, and various health and safety acts, to carry out regular inspections and testing of all electrical machinery and supplies. While the vast majority of companies abide by the various health and safety regulations there are a number of common reasons for electric shock injuries in the workplace.
Using higher rated protective electrical equipment
There have been many instances where constantly tripping circuit boards have seen the correct protective electrical equipment replaced with that of a higher rating. This may solve the issue of constant tripping but can often lead to power surges because the equipment is not suitable for the higher rating. This can impact the power supply to a building and machines thereby creating an environment where electric shocks may occur.
Exposed live electrical elements
The construction industry has seen more than its fair share of electric shock accidents in years gone by. While not exclusive to the construction industry, a number of these accidents have occurred when live electrical components have been exposed to the elements. This could be something as simple as a broken light switch, or damaged plug socket, which have proven to be extremely dangerous and potentially fatal. If injury occurs because of negligence you would have a case for claiming electric shock compensation.
While often occurring where old equipment is involved, inadequate earthing has on numerous occasions that led to equipment or accessories coming “live”. We have seen some terrible injuries as a consequence of inadequate earthing, a process which is fairly straightforward and vital to ensuring a safe working environment.
Inadequate protection against fluids
When looking at the protection of electric equipment it is obvious that rainwater, or any other type of fluid, and electrics, just do not mix. In some circumstances this can create a short circuit which cuts out the machine while on other occasions it has proven fatal to members of the workforce. The mixing of water and electric is a particular problem within the food industry where jet washers are sometimes used to clean equipment.
General poor maintenance
It is imperative that electric equipment and electric supplies are tested and maintained on an ongoing basis. Exposed or missing elements can prove fatal, loose connections can cause serious accidents with not only the potential for electric shocks but also fires. As a matter of course all electric equipment should be tested on a regular basis and damaged equipment either repaired, to an acceptable standard, or replaced. If this hasn’t happened because of negligence you could have a claim for electric shock compensation.
Consequences Of An Electric Shock
While many people are under the impression that it is only high voltage power which can cause serious electric shock injury, even 50 V can bring on an array of medical issues. These include:
- Irregular heartbeats and possible cardiac arrest.
- Issues with breathing due to muscle spasms.
- Electrical burns.
- Muscle spasms.
- Broken bones and fractures as a consequence of intense muscle spasms.
- Electric shock injuries throwing victims from great heights or in front of other vehicles.
When you look at this list of potential consequences from an electric shock it very quickly becomes a more serious subject than many people assume. There are a number of life-threatening consequences in the above list which can be avoided if safety regulations are respected. There are also a number of other factors which will impact the severity of an electric shock injury which include:
• The actual level of electric voltage
• Length of time exposed to the current flow
• Which parts of the body were impacted
• Water or other fluids can make a difficult situation a lot worse
When looking at the above list it is not difficult to see that in various circumstances electric shocks will not just give you a simple jolt but could actually be life-threatening. It is therefore imperative that those who suffer electric shocks in the workplace as a result of negligence look to hold the perpetrators to account. In many lines of business, it is only when a company is hit in the pocket with significant fines and electric shock compensation awards that working practices and maintenance standards will change.
Proving Liability For Electric Shock Compensation
While the Health and Safety Act 1974 imposes a legal duty of care on employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees, there are thankfully more regulations covering safety at work. These include:
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
This covers the legal obligation for employees to carry out regular health and safety assessments on workplace equipment, machinery and to ensure that the overall working environment is safe.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992.
There will be situations where employees need to operate in potentially dangerous environments, although these should be avoided as much as possible, with this particular act ensuring that appropriate safety equipment and clothing is readily available. It is also vital that those operating in such environments are fully trained and informed of the dangers with working practice guidelines made available.
- Electricity at Work Regulations 1998.
This relatively new act of Parliament details the best practice procedure for risk assessments which involve electrical equipment. There is also particular reference to the training of employees who work with electricity covering such subjects as safely covering live wires and ensuring that machinery is adequately earthed.
Unfortunately, there will be occasions where electric shocks occur without negligence or liability on behalf of the employer. As long as the employer is able to show that they abided by their duty of care to employees, and the other acts detailed above, then they may well be able to prove they did all they could to avoid injury. There is also an emphasis on employees to abide by company guidelines when working with electrical equipment.
Claiming For Electric Shock Compensation When Injured At Home
As when claiming compensation for electric shocks in the workplace, there is a need to prove negligence when an injury occurs in the home. Issues involving faulty electric appliances are quite common and claims can be made under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 – where the claimant is able to prove the manufacturer/retailer was selling faulty goods.
Faulty Workmanship Causing Electric Shock
There have been instances where electricians have undertaken work in the home and failed to protect residents from electric shocks. This may involve something as simple as an exposed wire or failure to protect electrical circuitry from water and other liquids. As construction/electrical contractors are legally obliged to have professional indemnity insurance in place, any compensation awarded as a result of negligence would likely be paid by the insurer as opposed to the company/individual.
Lodging A Claim For Electric Shock Compensation
As with any accident it is imperative that medical attention is received as soon as possible to treat any electric shock injuries and avoid any long-term issues. Where serious injuries are involved medical attention may be given in the workplace, but it is more likely the victim will be taken to hospital for a check-up. Not only does this ensure that medical treatment is received in a prompt manner but all details of the accident, injuries and treatment for an electric shock would be noted on the patient’s medical records. This can prove to be a particularly strong line of evidence if the victim does decide to lodge an electric shock claim for compensation.
Once medical attention has been received, and the victim has recovered sufficiently, it is vital that all details of the electric shock injury , time, place and reasons for the injury are recorded. Where possible photographs may also assist with a compensation claim as would witness statements from those who saw the incident. The next step is to collate all details of the injury and supporting evidence to present to a personal injury solicitor. They will advise about the validity of an electric shock claim and where there is a strong case they will likely offer a No Win No Fee arrangement.
The actual process of lodging an electric shock claim involves sending details of the incident and evidence to the courts as well as the defendant. In the vast majority of cases, where negligence is fairly obvious, there may be an opportunity to settle out of court to the benefit of all parties. Where negligence and liability are contested, or perhaps there is possibly shared negligence, this will likely go before the courts.
What Compensation For An Electric Shock Might Be Claimed?
There are two specific types of compensation which may be available for an electric shock injury to those seeking damages – general and special damages. General damages relate to compensation for:
- Pain and suffering.
- Life changing injuries.
- Mental trauma.
There is some discretion on the amount of electric shock compensation to be paid under general damages although the courts and insurance companies will refer to historic compensation payments for similar injuries. Each claim will be considered on a case-by-case basis and there is no legal straitjacket with regards to the potential level of compensation awarded.
Special damages for electric shock compensation relate to financial redress for your costs incurred and future costs directly relating to the electric shock injury. They include issues such as:
- Loss of earnings resulting from the electric shock.
- Future loss of earnings.
- Your medical expenses.
- Additional transport expenses due to the injury.
- Future medical expenses.
- Adaptions to your home if required.
This list is purely for guidance because different types of electric shock injuries, and levels of impact on a person’s life, will result in different levels of assistance.
Have you suffered an electric shock injury at work, in the home, or in a public place and it’s because another party were negligent? Contact our solicitors today to discuss your claim for electric shock compensation in confidence.