When a construction worker has been electrocuted, there will likely be multiple sources of legal recovery, including a claim to recover Workers’ Compensation benefits and in many cases a lawsuit for injuries or death, pain and suffering compensation and economic losses for an electric shock injury claim, or wrongful death lawsuit if a life has been lost.
The type of lawsuit that a laborer or his or her estate may bring for suffering a personal injury or death by electricity will depend on many factors such as: (1) whether the laborer was an employee of the responsible party; (2) whether there are responsible third parties; and (3) the nature and extent of the laborer’s injuries.
An experienced electrocution lawyer is critical in identifying negligent third-parties that most lawyers will simply miss. An electrocution lawyer can also help you and your family protect your legal rights and hold the responsible party or parties accountable for the injuries and economic losses and medical bills if an electric shock injury occurred.
Construction electrocution statistics
The statistics for instances of when a construction worker is electrocuted show that in 2019 the building industry had the highest rate of fatal electrical injuries and the second highest percentage non-fatal electrocution injuries.
Additionally, overall workplace deaths nationwide from “exposure to electricity” increased 24% between 2015 and 2019.
Fatal and non-fatal injuries after construction worker electrocuted
When a construction worker has been electrocuted, he or she could suffer an electrocution or an electric shock injury. With an electrocution, the result is fatal and the laborer will have lost his or her life. Although the effects of an electric shock can be severe, disabling and life-altering, they are not fatal.
Workers Compensation lawsuit
When a construction worker was an “employee” at the time he or she was electrocuted, then the only lawsuit that he or she may have against his or her employer is for Workers’ Compensation benefits to cover medical bills and lost wages.
If the laborer came in contact with electricity and and lost his or her life, then his or her dependents could seek death benefits from the worker’s employer, which would include damages for financial support that the worker would have otherwise provided and funeral expenses.
Most states’ Workers’ Compensation laws contain “exclusive remedy” provisions which generally prohibit injured employees from suing their employers for pain and suffering compensation for injuries that arose out of and in the course of the employee’s employment. The “exclusive remedy” provision limits an injured employee’s recovery only to those benefits specifically provided for under the state’s Workers’ Comp law.
The “exclusive remedy” provisions also apply to a deceased laborer’s dependents and, thus, prohibits them from filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the worker’s employer.
Pain and suffering lawsuit
If the party responsible for causing a construction worker to be electrocuted is a third-party – other than the worker’s employer or co-employee – then the laborer can file a pain and suffering compensation lawsuit against the third-party.
Third-party liability is generally not prohibited under the “exclusive remedy” provisions in most state’s Workers’ Compensation laws.
Wrongful death lawsuit after a construction worker has been electrocuted
The estate of a laborer who died as a result of a fatal electrocution can file a wrongful death lawsuit against any third-parties – excluding the worker’s employer and co-workers – whose negligence is responsible for the worker’s death. Most state’s “exclusive remedy” provisions allow this exception for third-party liability.
What third parties could be liable?
The third-parties who could be held liable for a construction worker being electrocuted include: (1) the project owner; (2) the general contractor; (3) sub-contractors; (4) property owners; (5) vendors; (6) motor vehicle driver; (7) product manufacturer; and/or (8) a maintenance company.
Independent contractor lawsuit after a construction worker has been electrocuted
If the laborer who was electrically shocked was an independent contractor relative to the negligent party who caused the electrocution, i.e., not an employee, then he or she will generally be able to bring a lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation and economic damages against BOTH the business that hired the laborer and any other third-parties who share legal responsibility.
The “exclusive remedy” provisions of most states’ Worker’s Compensation laws only apply to “employees,” thus leaving independent contractors with the legal authority to sue the businesses or people whose negligence has caused them to suffer electrocution on the job.
This “independent contractor” exception to most states’ “exclusive remedy” provisions also applies when a fatal electrocution occurs and the deceased laborer’s estate seeks to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Get help from an experienced electric shock injury lawyer
If you or someone you love is a victim of serious personal injury or death caused by electricity, you can call and speak with Jeff Feldman, arguably the nation’s most experienced electric shock accident and electrocution attorney. Jeff has litigated electrocution cases and electric shock injury cases for laborer’s in the building industry in multiple states. Jeff also consults with injury lawyers throughout the country on electric shock injury and wrongful death cases involving electricity. You can call Jeff toll free at (800) 548-0043 for a free consultation.
(Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2019,” published December 2020; Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), “Workplace Injury & Fatality Statistics,” “Workplace Electrical Injuries 2003-2019”)