A study conducted by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) showed that 377 or 65% of 580 work-related electrocutions occurred in the construction industry. Nearly 30% of these electrocutions involved cranes. Electrocutions are part of what is known as the "fatal four," which represent the four main causes of fatal construction accidents – falls, struck-by injuries, caught in/between injuries and electrocutions.
If you have suffered electrical injuries involving crane operation or if you have lost a loved one in a crane-related electrocution, you may be able receive additional compensation for your damages and losses. These types of accidents have the potential to cause devastating injuries. An experienced crane accident lawyer will be able to help you better understand your legal rights and options.
What Are OSHA Regulations?
Current OSHA regulations require construction companies and others to take precautions when cranes and boomed vehicles are operated near overhead power lines. Any overhead power line should be considered energized unless the owner of the line or the utility company indicates that it has been de-energized and it is visibly grounded.
Under OSHA regulations, the overhead power lines must be de-energized or separated from the crane and its load by implementing one or more of the following procedures:
- De-energizing and visibly grounding electrical distribution and transmission lines.
- Use independent insulated barriers to prevent physical contact with the power lines.
- Maintain minimum clearance between energized power lines and the crane and its load.
Where it is difficult for the crane operator to maintain clearance by visual means, a person must be designated to observe the clearance between the energized power lines and the crane and its load. The use of cage-type boom guards, insulating links or proximity warning devices should not alter the need to follow the above precautions, according to OSHA standards, which clearly state that these devices are not a substitute for de-energizing and grounding power lines or maintaining safe line distances.
How Electrical Injuries Affect Workers
An electrical injury is essentially damage to the skin or internal organs when an individual comes into direct contact with an electrical current. The human body conducts electricity well. This means electricity easily passes through the human body. Therefore, direct contact with electricity can be deadly. Even if some electrical burns may not appear serious, there may still be serious internal damage especially to the vital organs such as the heart or the brain.
An electric current can cause injuries in several ways. It could trigger a cardiac arrest because of the electrical effect on the heart. It could destroy muscle, nerve, and tissue. It could cause thermal burns from contact with the electrical source. It could also lead to the worker falling off a crane after contact with electricity.
Typically, when a worker is injured in a crane accident, he or she may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits through his or her employer. Workers' comp usually covers medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. When a worker is electrocuted in a crane accident, the deceased worker's family members may be able to receive death benefits through the workers' comp system.
However, in addition to workers' comp benefits, workers or their families may also be able to file a third-party electrocution accident lawsuit. There are a number of parties who can be held responsible for a crane accident including construction companies, general contractors, sub-contractors, individual construction workers, property owners, crane manufacturers and in some cases, even governmental agencies or electrical utility companies. Who can be held liable depends largely on the facts and circumstances of how the accident occurred.
In a third-party lawsuit, victims and their families will be entitled to additional compensation for damages such as permanent injuries, disabilities, lost earning capacity, disfigurement, cost of rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Families of deceased victims may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party seeking compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering (endured by the decedent) and loss of love, care and companionship.
How Can Crane Accident Lawyers Help?
Work injury lawyers play an important role in these types of cases. An experienced lawyer can interview victims and families to understand the facts and circumstances of the case as well as their medical needs. An injury lawyer can also help victims or their families gather evidence that could help determine who caused the accident.
Our knowledgeable workplace electrocution injury lawyers can also help you receive the largest possible settlement for their case. We can help determine the value of your case to help maximize compensation. At Greenberg & Ruby, we also offer a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation. Call us at (323) 782-0535 to find out how we can help you.