Injuries Caused by Electric Shock from Unsafe Equipment

Defective equipment on offshore rigs, tankers, barges and other vessels can cause serious injuries to the maritime worker. Equipment that is unsafe poses a significant risk of electrocution and burns. If you or someone you know has been injured by unsafe equipment or defective equipment onboard a vessel, a Jones Act lawsuit may be pursued.

Electric shock occurs when someone comes into contact with an electrical energy source. A person is injured when the electrical energy flows through the body, which ultimately causes shock. An injury caused by electric shock can be catastrophic, even deadly.

It has been estimated that nearly 1,000 people die each year in the United States as a direct result of electric shock. Many of the deaths were caused by exposure at work. As a seaman, you most likely work with heavy equipment and machinery. When equipment malfunctions aboard a vessel, the result can be devastating.

Symptoms of Electric Shock

Symptoms of electric shock can range, depending on the extent of injuries. When someone experiences electric shock, there may be little initial evidence of the injury or there may be immediate burns. A high voltage shock can cause cardiac arrest. Some of the electric shock symptoms include the following:

  • Burns at the point of contact with the electrical source such as the hands, heels or head
  • Spinal pain or injury, if the person was thrown clear of the electrical source
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain in a hand or foot
  • Deformity of part of the body
  • Unconsciousness
  • Numbness or paralysis

Treatment and Recovery of Electric Shock

Emergency medical care should be given to the victim immediately following the electric shock. Even if there are no external signs of damage, there could be internal injuries. A doctor will conduct various tests and exams to determine if any significant unseen injuries exist. It is possible for the heart, muscle or brain to be damaged from the electrical force. Some of the tests may include:

  • Blood count
  • ECG of the heart
  • Urine test
  • X-ray
  • CT scan

The medical personnel will treat any burns according to the severity. Broken bones will require casting or splinting and in some cases may require surgery. If there are internal injuries, surgery may be needed. The medical staff will also closely monitor the victim to prevent infection, which is one of the most common causes of death among those hospitalized after an electrical injury.

Recovery from electric shock can be achieved, especially if the injuries were relatively minor. If the victim did not experience cardiac arrest or severe burns, the chances of survival increase dramatically.

If you have been injured by electric shock while working aboard a vessel, you may be eligible to file a Jones Act claim.