- July 2, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Catastrophic Injury
On Reinhardt Parkway in Cherokee County, at the site of the expected new Holiday Inn, two construction workers were severely injured while working on an electrical box that had not been de-energized.
The two men were found in distress on the morning of May 25th. One of them was still in contact with the box, and emergency responders had to call to have the system de-energized before rescuing him and transporting him to an Atlanta burn unit. He had burns covering 100% of his body. The other man had been struck by a fiery discharge from the box and suffered second-degree burns to his face and arms. He also required burn unit treatment.
Electrocution injuries on construction sites are a pervasive problem, but they’re also almost always predictable and preventable. The injuries these men sustained should never have been allowed to happen, and they both very likely have grounds to sue.
Construction Companies Have a Responsibility to Provide a Safe Work Environment
Like any business that controls physical spaces or employs people, construction companies are responsible for protecting workers and guests from foreseeable hazards.
When it comes to electrical safety in particular, OSHA specifically requires all electrical equipment to be de-energized before having work performed on it, unless de-energizing it would cause even greater dangers (such as shutting down life-saving ventilation systems). Some exceptions are also granted when de-energizing systems is deemed “infeasible,” usually when it would be necessary to shut down hundreds of industrial machines with long, risky start-up processes in order to service one.
From the details currently available, it doesn’t appear that either of these scenarios apply to the Holiday Inn electrocution. The men were apparently put in needless danger of severe injury and death, which would mean they are entitled to compensation for the results.
If the workers are classified as employees, their only way of collecting from the construction company may be through worker’s comp. The worker’s comp system allows injured employees to get quick medical care, but prevents them from collecting the full value of their injuries and pain from their employers. However, if these men’s worker’s comp claims are denied, or if they are classified as contractors rather than employees, they may be able to sue the construction company for full compensation instead.
Others May Share Liability, Including the Holiday Inn and the Electric Company
Even if the two men are employees of the construction company and receive their worker’s comp benefits without incident, they may still be able to pursue more complete compensation from other negligent parties.
For example, if the Holiday Inn hotel chain put unreasonable pressure on the construction company to rush the job, or refused to allow them to do their work in a safer way, that company might also be liable for these injuries. Or, if shutting off the power to the box was a process that had to be coordinated with the electricity provider, the local electric company could also be liable for failing to carry out their part.
How fully these men are compensated for what happened to them will likely depend on whether or not they have an advocate involved in the investigation, someone whose priority is finding out whose negligence caused their injuries, and who knows what to look for. The best way to make sure this happens is for them to start working with a qualified accident attorney as soon as possible.
If you have been shocked or burned by electricity on a Georgia construction site, call the Stoddard Firm to learn about your options.