Electricity is an essential part of modern life. We use it to power all of our devices, amenities, and luxuries. As such, it is a very powerful force. But where there’s power, there is also the potential for danger, and that danger is around us at all times.
Electrical burns can cause severe damage to the affected area and strain the heart, organs, and even the brain. A severe electrical burn can even cause death. Thus, it is important to know what constitutes an electrical burn and what you should do if you’ve been the victim of an electrical burn accident.
Electrical Burn Accidents Overview
The first decider between an electrical burn and a regular burn is that electricity is the direct cause of an electrical burn. This may seem obvious, but the line gets blurred in incidents where burns are caused by an electrical device. For example, a burn caused by contact with the surface of an electric iron is not an electrical burn. But, if the wire that connects the iron to a wall outlet was frayed and caused an arc of electricity that touched someone and caused harm, that’s an electrical burn.
Electrical burns are most common on construction job sites, where the risk of coming into contact with a live, exposed wire is highest. That said, there are many potential causes of electrical burns that include, but are not limited to touching electrically live objects, short circuiting, coming in contact with electrified water, inserting fingers into a live socket, etc.
The statistics surrounding workplace electrical burn accidents are pretty astounding:
- Between 1992 and 2010, there were over 5,000 electrical-based fatalities at the workplace
- The most common cause of workplace injury as a result of electricity is coming in contact with live, overhead power lines
- Fatal electrical burns and electrocution make up for 4% of all workplace fatalities
- The construction industry is responsible for 52% of all electrical fatalities
Electrical Burn Classifications
Low Voltage Burns: Voltage becomes a big differentiator in electrical burn accidents. If the device that caused the electrocution was fewer than 500 volts (low voltage), then it is harder to recover damages because the potential burns caused by equipment of this voltage is too low to be considered severe and debilitating.
High Voltage Burns: ?These electrical burns are usually caused by direct contact with a high powered current that will cause physical damage to the affected area. High voltage burns even have the power to burn layers of skin tissue beneath the surface. High voltage includes devices over 500 volts.
Arc Burns: Electricity often acts erratic in the form of arcs. An arc burn doesn’t necessarily have to come in direct contact with the skin because these currents travel through electrified air particles. Arc burns can be severely damaging because they emit temperatures of 4,000 Celsius, enough to cause clothing to catch fire. Arc burns are also dangerous because of the unpredictable nature of how the current passes through the body. An arc burn could span across multiple parts of the body and cause more than one burn.
Flash Burns: When an arc burn does come in direct contact with the skin, it’s known as a flash burn. Because of the high intensity of heat, this can cause severe surface burns in mere moments. The one upside to flash burns is they typically only affect the surface of the skin and don’t do damage to deeper layers of tissue.
Flame Burns: These burns are caused by actual flames that are a cause of electricity arcing and igniting an area or object. Thus, they aren’t any different from a typical burn, aside from their root cause being electricity.
Oral Burns: Most often seen in small children, oral electrical burns occur when someone bites or sucks on an active electrical wire. Because the power is coming in contact with the mouth, the risk of shocking the brain is greater because it’s in close proximity to the source.
If you’re the victim of an electrical burn accident, knowing what type of burn is critical information that demonstrates both the severity of the damage, as well as the potential cause of the burn, which can help identify if there was negligence involved in the accident.
Proving Liability in An Electrical Burn Accident Case
If you have suffered an injury because of an electrical burn accident, it is important to know if you can file a claim and recover damages and, if so, how to follow the correct steps to ensure those damages are recovered. There are a lot of variables and complexities that can make the process confusing.
Ultimately, what most electrical burn cases hinder on is what the root cause of the accident was and whether there was any negligence involved that contributed or caused the problem. Negligence may fall on a property owner who didn’t properly maintain wires or knowingly had exposed live wires. It could also be the manufacturer or installer of an electrical device where a defective part caused the product to become dangerous and electrified.
First, you have to be able to prove that your injuries were caused by an electrical arc or malfunction. Next, you have to demonstrate that someone’s negligence contributed to the conditions that caused the electrical burn. Again, this is often a property owner that didnt properly maintain the wiring of their building. However, for work-based electrical burns, negligence could be on the company for not providing employees with the necessary training they needed to handle electrical equipment and avoid electrocution.
It isn’t always easy to determine negligence, which is exactly why hiring the right Philadelphia electrical burn injury lawyer is crucial. They will not only advise you on whether you have a potential for a claim or not but also put you in contact with electrical burn specialists that will help you assess the extent of your damages and provide expert testimony.
Arguably, the hardest component of electrical burn cases is determining what the damages are, even more so than proving negligence. This is because some of the effects of an electrical burn are not immediately apparent and there may be long-term issues that dont manifest until years later. For example, research suggests that, even if there isnt a visible burn, the victim may still suffer from extended muscle pain, fatigue, poor balance, memory problems and more.
Additionally, electrical burns can often cause damage to the deeper layers of tissue. Thus, the surface damage might not reflect the actual scale of the burn.
Call a Philadelphia Electrical Burn Injury Attorney Today
If you or a family member have been the victim of an electrical burn that was caused by workplace or property maintenance negligence, malfunctioning equipment or other, similar causes, it is critical that you get the right legal help. Many of the potential effects and injuries of an electrical burn are hard to measure or prove that they were caused by an electrical accident. This is why consulting a medical specialist is imperative in a successful accident claim. With this right collection of legal and expert help, you’ll have little problem identifying the cause of the electrical burn accident, determining who is at fault for the accident and what extent the damages are.