Construction workers face a number of unique dangers including being involved in accidents in which they are electrocuted. These accidents occur even though there are rules and regulations designed to protect workers from electrical hazards. Developers and contractors cut corners to finish jobs under cost or before schedule. When these accidents occur, workers must find an expert construction accident lawyer.
An Accident After Being Electrocuted
In 2013, a construction worker suffered an accident when he was electrocuted while performing carpentry work. The accident happened at a construction site in New York. Prior to the accident, the owner of the property leased it to another company. The lessee hired a general contractor to oversee the construction of a store at the premises. The general contractor hired an on-site superintendent. The superintendent hired the worker’s company to perform carpentry work at this project.
On the day of his accident, the worker appeared at the job site and received instructions from his foreman. Demolition work was occurring at the premises. The foreman told the worker to remove an existing light fixture from a drop ceiling. The drop ceiling was approximately 12 feet above the floor. In order to reach the light fixture, the worker used a Baker scaffold. The Baker scaffold was approximately 5 feet above the ground and had no railings on the front and back of it. He was working with one co-worker at the time of his accident.
From the scaffold, the worker reached up to remove the light fixture. He expected that the electricity was off. As he reached up to cut the wires, he was electrocuted and fell off the scaffold onto the ground below. The injured worker did not remember how the accident happened. He only remembered being on the ground and feeling like a rag-doll. The worker was not provided with a harness, hard hat, or any other safety device. He did not see any other workers on the site utilizing such devices.
The injured construction worker filed a lawsuit against the property owner, lessee, general contractor, and the on-site superintendent (the defendants) for the accident caused when he was electrocuted. At his deposition, the worker’s foreman testified that he believed that the worker’s fall occurred because he passed out. He saw the worker’s eyes closed before he hit the floor. The foreman also did not see the worker’s arms come up when he hit the floor. He also testified that the worker’s co-worker told him that the injured worker had a prior history of passing out.
Following discovery, all of the parties asked the judge decide liability. The worker argued that a wire he cut electrocuted him. The shock caused him to fall from the Baker scaffold. He also argued that he fell because the scaffold lacked safety railings. He also lacked other safety devices to prevent him from falling, such as a safety harness and a tie-off point. The lessee denied responsibility for this accident. The judge disagreed with the lessee. The lessee contracted for the construction work and was responsible for injuries at the job-site.
The defendants also argued that the worker had not established that the scaffold was defective. They also argued that he was the sole proximate cause of his accident as he was working with a pre-existing medical condition which may have caused him to faint.
Who’s to Blame?
The judge rejected both of the defendants’ arguments. Under the law, a worker only needs to show that the scaffold failed to protect him from falling. In addition the defendants offered no evidence to support their mere speculation that the worker’s pre-existing medical condition caused his accident.
The Court agreed with the worker, that the Baker scaffold failed to prevent the injured construction worker from falling. It was foreseeable that a worker may be electrocuted by a live wire. The judge decided that a scaffold without railings was not a proper safety device. In addition, the defendants should have provided other safety devices like harnesses and tie-off points. Accordingly, the judge granted the construction worker’s request sent the case for trial with a jury on the issue of damages only.
Electrocution on construction sites occurs due to unsafe working conditions, negligence of others, or defective tools or machinery. In addition to causing severe burns and muscle spasms, electrocutions can cause seizures and loss of consciousness. This can be especially dangerous when working atop ladders, scaffolds, or other elevated surfaces. If you or someone you love is electrocuted and suffers a construction accident, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at The Platta Law Firm, PLLC for a free consultation.