How does the National Electric Safety Code apply to my electrocution case?
What plaintiff’s attorneys must prove under the NESC, which sets the law for inspection and maintenance of power lines
The National Electric Safety Code (NESC Rule 213A, Inspection of Overhead Installations) outlines when an electric company must inspect and maintain power lines. And it’s an important factor in determining whether an electrical company complied with its responsibilities to keep the public safe.
That’s because electrical companies will often attempt to argue that they complied with the NESC
and therefore, were not negligent after people were hurt or killed in accidents with power lines. Remember, electrocution cases usually involve a claim for negligence.
Plaintiff’s attorneys must often prove an electric company did not follow the NESC by lacking in the proper inspection and maintenance of the power lines. In addition, compliance with the NESC does not necessarily relieve a company of liability. Generally, the NESC will be compared to what happened in the case at hand to see if there was reasonable (or higher) care.
However, some jurisdictions have officially adopted the NESC as law, so failure to comply will result in negligence as a matter of law. Some of these jurisdictions include West Virginia, Montana and South Dakota. These states will typically codify the entire National Electric Safety Code. For example, in South Dakota, SDCL 47-21-75 provides:
“Construction of electric lines by a cooperative shall, as a minimum requirement, comply with the standards of the national electrical safety code in effect at the time of such construction.”
If it is not the state that adopts the NESC as law, sometimes a city will make the NESC a city ordinance, just like the Town of Ayden in North Carolina.
Here’s more information about the National Electric Safety Code from attorney Jeffrey Feldman: