Answers To The Most Frequently Asked Questions In Electrical Accident Cases

1. Who can sue for an electrical accident?

Any person injured or the survivors of a family member killed by an electrical accident can bring a lawsuit if the accident was caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another, or at least partially caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another. This is true whether the injured person or deceased family member was a minor or an adult.

2. What are my remedies if I am injured or a loved one is killed by the improper conduct of a utility company?

Because of the high risk of serious personal injury or death from escaping electricity, a power company or person maintaining electrical wires must use increased care proportionate to the danger. The electrical company has a higher standard of care because of the known danger of electricity. You will be able to recover for your injuries or death to a family member if you can establish that the utility company violated the expected standard of care in its electrical operations.

3. My child was electrocuted when he came in contact with power lines. What must I prove to be able to win my case against the power company?

You will have to prove that the power company was negligent. Examples of negligence include: electrical lines that were either installed or maintained without proper insulation, electrical lines without enough clearance from the ground, buildings or combustibles; or, lines that were improperly guarded.

Further, you may be able to establish liability against the power company if you can demonstrate that the power company failed to perform thorough inspections of its lines and failed to keep them safe from natural deterioration, foreseeable uses of the underlying or adjacent property and changed conditions that made the power lines hazardous.

The same rules that apply to children apply to adults; however, a power company will have to use extra care if it knows children play in the area of its lines.

4. Are there special rules and regulations pertaining to power companies, and if there are what is the affect of these regulations on my injury or wrongful death case?

Power companies are heavily regulated by local, state and federal governments. Regulations include the necessity of establishing sufficient clearance of an electrical line above the road, sufficient clearance of an electric line above the ground, maintenance of insulation material; specified markings on poles carrying high voltage lines; and, duties to raise a line once the power company knows or should have known that it was too low.

If you can establish that one of these regulations was violated in your case, then there is a presumption under the law that the power company was negligent, which means that the power company has the burden of proving it acted reasonably under the circumstances.

5. I was injured by a negligently maintained power line. However, the power company is denying responsibility because they say I was injured due to the negligence of a contractor it had hired to maintain the lines. The contractor does not have any insurance or significant assets. What can I do?

You can sue the power company. They have an absolute “non-delegable” duty to construct and maintain their power lines. This
means that they are responsible for the negligence of a contractor they hire.

6. My neighbor hired a contractor to do some work around electrical lines. I assumed that the lines had been de-energized, but they were not. When I went to pick one up, I was electrocuted and received severe burn injuries. Who can I sue for my injuries?

You can sue the power company, if they were advised that the work was going to be performed, and you can also sue your neighbor and the contractor if they failed to post sufficient warnings or take safeguards or other necessary precautions which led to your injury.

7. How long do I have to bring my electrical accident case?

If the defendant is a public entity, you have six months from the date of the accident to bring a claim. Otherwise, you have two years from the date of the accident to bring a claim, although the time period may be extended for delayed discovery.

8. Do I need to retain an attorney?

Yes. The chances of a power or utility company or other defendant settling an electrical accident case without an attorney are negligible. You should hire an attorney in any electrical accident case as soon as possible because an early investigation will be critical.

9. What damages am I entitled to recover in an electric accident case?

Plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical treatment, past and future wage loss, damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress, and, if the plaintiff can establish bad enough conduct on the part of the business or homeowner punitive damages (i.e. damages intended to punish the business or homeowner).

If the plaintiff dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the plaintiff’s death as well as emotional distress damages which stem from the loss of society care and comfort of the decedent. If the survivors can prove that the plaintiff lived for a period of time between the negligent act and death, they can also bring an action for punitive damages.

10. Will my case settle out of court?

Probably. Ninety to 95% of electric accident cases settle at some time before trial.

Most legal questions require complex answers. The answers provided here may not be complete or fully accurate but attempt to provide consumers with abbreviated answers. For more detailed answers to these questions, a consumer should check out other articles in this section of this website, research other legal articles and texts on the subject matter or consult with our Oakland personal injury attorneys.