There may be a case for pain and suffering compensation or wrongful death if a utility worker was trimming branches and was electrocuted. Those cases could be against any responsible party other than the worker’s employer. A Workers’ Comp case could likely be brought against the employer.
Most states have laws which make Workers’ Compensation the “exclusive remedy” for utility workers who suffer an electric shock injury or electrocution on the job. The laws require utilities to pay for the injured worker’s medical bills and lost wages regardless of fault, but the laws also prohibit the utility workers from suing their employers (i.e., the utilities) for compensation for the pain and suffering they have suffered as a result of their workplace injury.
However, there are often other parties whose negligence may be responsible for a utility worker’s electric shock injury or electrocution and, thus, who can be sued for pain and suffering compensation or wrongful death.
A utility worker who suffers an electric shock injury or is electrocuted while trimming trees and branches as part of his or her job will have a case for Workers’ Compensation benefits against his or her employer.
In the event of an electric shock injury, Workers’ Comp will likely cover medical bills and lost wages. In the event that the utility worker loses his or her life as a result of electrocution, the Workers’ Compensation laws will likely cover the worker’s family’s actual expenses and the ongoing “cost” of losing their family member’s or loved one’s companionship, emotional and financial support and parental guidance to minor children.
Suing responsible parties other than a utility worker’s employer
If a utility worker was trimming and branches and was electrocuted then they or their family may be able to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation or wrongful death against any of the following parties (so long as they are not the worker’s employer) to the extent their negligence caused and/or contributed to the worker’s injury or death:
- Companies and contractors who may be involved in the inspection, maintenance and repair of utility power lines, utility poles, utility pole tops and utility pole top facilities (such as devices, hardware, attachments, braces, insulators, pins, insulator ties, crossarms and transformers)
- The manufacturer, seller or distributor of the power line at issue
- The company that designed or manufactured a defective component on a utility line, pole or structure
If a utility worker was trimming and branches and was electrocuted but not killed
If a utility worker was trimming branches and was electrocuted but not killed, there may be a case for pain and suffering compensation against a responsible party other than the worker’s employer.
If a utility worker was trimming branches and was electrocuted and died
If a utility worker was trimming branches and was electrocuted and died, his or her estate may have a case for wrongful death against a responsible party other than the worker’s employer.
The wrongful death laws of the state in which such a tragedy occurs will determine who among the utility worker’s surviving family members can bring the lawsuit on behalf of the worker’s estate.
Issues in a wrongful death case include:
- Whether the utility worker experienced conscious pain and suffering before he or she passed away
- Whether the utility worker was married and had children or dependents
- The utility worker’s age and how long he or she may be have been expected to work, which shows the worker’s lost earning capacity into the future
- Whether the responsible party’s or parties’ actions were sufficiently egregious, reckless and/or fraudulent to warrant punitive or exemplary damages
Trimming trees near power lines
The National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) requires electric utilities to trim trees, branches and vegetation near power lines. This is a serious public safety obligation for utilities because it helps prevent electrocution shock injuries and electrocution.
When trees and vegetation gets too overgrown, the weight of the trees and branches can bring down power lines, exposing people on the ground to a potentially deadly electricity-related threat. Similarly, overgrown trees and branches can cause power lines to fall due to a storm, high winds and/or heavy snow and ice accumulation.
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If you or someone you love is a victim of serious personal injury or death caused by electricity, please call us toll free at (800) 548-0043 for a free consultation.Tags: a utility worker was trimming branches and was electrocuted