What are common electrocution injuries?

Electrocution injuries from power lines are almost always serious and life-threatening. Below our attorneys are explaining several types of harm that can result from direct or indirect contact with overhead power lines.

Burns: High voltage is generally defined as being greater than 1,000 volts, typically resulting in flash- or flame-induced local burns to the point of contact as well as massive necrosis (tissue death) of deeper tissues.

Orthopedic injuries: Meaning injuries to the skeletal system, muscles, joints and ligaments. There can also be acute renal (kidney) failure, eye injuries, neurological injury and traumatic brain injury from contact with power lines.

Thermal injuries: Thermal injuries are a type of burn that results from contact with heated objects, such as electricity, boiling water, steam, fire and hot objects. These occur along the current pathway and ground.

Flash or flame injuries: Flash or flame injuries consist of any burn injury caused by intense flashes of light, high voltage electric current or strong thermal radiation. They’re found in 40% of electrocution victims.

Loss of consciousness: This occurs  from brain injury in about one-third of electrocution victims, with many suffering from peripheral neuropathies (weakness, numbness and pain from nerve damage, usually in the hands and feet) most commonly associated with the entry point of first contact.

Fractures: Fractures occur in over 25% of electrocution cases.

Musculoskeletal injury: Musculoskeletal injuries are a range of disorders involving muscles, bones, tendons, blood vessels, nerves and other soft tissues. These injuries result in 40% of electrocution cases.

Multiple amputations: Multiple amputations result in 11% of people who are electrocuted by power lines.

Secondary injuries from falling: Secondary injuries often occur from falling after contact with power lines due to a startle reaction, either from elevation or from a standing position on the ground.  Likewise, myocardial infarction (heart attack), disc herniation, hip fractures, extremity fractures, and/or other secondary injuries often occur.

Ventricular fibrillation: Ventricular fibrillation is a condition in which there is uncoordinated contraction of the cardiac muscle of the ventricles in the heart, making them quiver rather than contract properly. Although ventricular fibrillation is the most commonly identified arrhythmia in cardiac arrest patients, it may result from electrical exposure and is a function of the electrical current flowing through the heart muscle, and the duration of such flow.

Arc blast or flash injuries: Arc blast or flash injuries are burn injuries, and are produced when a person near an electric fault receives radiant heart burns (when a power line contacts the ground or an object that is connected to the ground, a “ground fault” occurs).

Death: Tragically, when people come into contact with high-voltage power lines, death is most often the result. Please see the following webpage for more information about electrocution death.

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