Contractor Dies From Electrical Shock Injury
News on the injury is sparse at this point, but a contractor has died in a Texas refinery after he suffered an electrical shock. The company said their thoughts and prayers are with his family, but an investigation will be conducted into how the accident occurred.
Electrical shock injuries and deaths are always investigated by OSHA when they occur in a workplace. A state like Texas will not require their employers to pay for workers’ compensation which gives the employees the ability to file lawsuits, but employers also have the right to force arbitration in many cases. Employees who use torts to recover injury damages have to prove negligence, meaning, they have to establish that their injury was caused, at least in part, by their employer. Often, OSHA steps in to issue a ruling on the accident. The OSHA findings are used by the family to support their wrongful death claim.
Stored energy incidents
OSHA on their website has a whole page devoted to stored energy accidents and how to avoid them using lockout-tagout procedures. In these cases, employees are supposed to know when a machine is active or not (or has stored energy). In this case, the employee either touched something in an area that should have been cordoned off, or the employer had no idea the danger was present.
In a case like this, it could be the employee’s fault. If the employee removed a protective area to access somewhere with an electrical current, then OSHA may not cite the employer at all. That, however, would be rare. More often than not, employers don’t conduct routine safety inspections, allow a problem to emerge that would have been caught by the routine inspection, and someone dies as a result of that.
OSHA then cites the employer for safety violations, issues a fine and a criminal citation, and breathes down the neck of the company until they’re on the right side of the law.
Ultimately, the majority of these cases do successfully allege misconduct on the part of the employer that contributed to the employee’s death.
Workers’ compensation immunity
The above-mentioned lawsuit was filed in Texas making a lawsuit much more likely. In this case, the worker was a contractor which means the injury was caused by a different company—not his employer. In Texas, that will likely free him from arbitration requirements. In Florida, workers’ compensation immunity only applies to actual employees and not contractors. Contractors would be covered under their own company’s policy.
In a case like this, the employee’s company policy would pay out death benefits and then wait for the result of the personal injury lawsuit. Any money recovered would then be repaid to the workers’ compensation insurer and the remainder would go to the plaintiff’s family.
Talk to a Florida Electrocution Accident Injury Lawyer Today
Halpern, Santos & Pinkert represent the interests of Florida residents who have been injured in electrocution accidents. Call our Florida personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.