Five Potential Consequences of Electrical Shock Injuries

By Griff O'Hanlon, Virginia Beach Injury Lawyer

Electrical Shock injuries are often extremely traumatic for victims and can result in a wide range of conditions.

While people who work with electricity are most at risk, electric shock injuries may occur in homes with children at particular risk from extension cords, sockets and electrical appliances.

Every year thousands of workers die in the United States from exposure to electricity. From 1992 through 2002, there were 3,378 workers who died from on-the-job electrical injuries, according to a report the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Here are five of the most serious effects of electric shocks.

1 Death

High levels of electricity when introduced to the body can kill immediately. Even low levels of current can affect the beating of the human heart which is caused by an internal electrical impulse. That’s why hundreds of people have been killed by Tasers used by law enforcement officers, even though the voltage used is relatively low. When alternating currents (AC currents) are introduced, it can cause the heart to beat in an unnatural manner. While any level of current over 10 milliamps (0.01 amp) is capable of producing painful to severe shock, currents between 100 and 200 mA (0.1 to 0.2 amp) are deadly.

2 Burns

Electrical injuries can cause burns. Voltage levels of 500 to 1000 volts will typically cause internal burns due to the large amount of energy that goes into the body. Damage due to current is caused through tissue heating. On occasions, an electrical injury can cause damage to internal tissues, often in an arm or a leg. The damage may be worse than one would expect from the burn on the skin. The Mayo Clinic provides advice on how to treat electrical burns.

3  Heart injury

In cases in which electric current has a direct pathway to the heart, a lower current can cause fibrillation. If it’s not immediately treated by defibrillation, fibrillation is usually lethal. All of the cells of the heart muscle move independently instead of in the coordinated pulses that are required to pump blood and maintain the heart’s circulation. Above 200 mA, muscle contractions become so strong that the heart muscles fail to move at all. 

4 Neurological Effects

Electric current can cause interference with the body’s nervous control, especially over the lungs and the heart. In some cases, a severe electric shock that does not cause electrocution,  has been shown to cause neuropathy. Victims of electrical shock can suffer memory loss and other neurological problems.

5  Arc-flash

As well as causing severe burns, the arc blast produced by vaporizing metallic components during an electrical shock can shatter bones and damage internal organs. Wearing protective clothing can help shield the victim from arc-flash.

Electrical shock injuries can often be the fault of another person. It may be an employer who has failed to provide adequate safeguards or the owner or the manager of a building who has left exposed wiring or other dangerous devices out. On occasions defective power lines have been downed, causing injuries or death and lawsuits against power companies.

If you or a loved one has suffered an electrical shock injury, call us for a free consultation at (757) 455-0077.

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