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Expert Reconstruction of Electrical Injury Incidents

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Expert Reconstruction of Electrical Injury Incidents


Electrical injuries can result from various potential causes, ranging from defective home appliances or power tools to shock and electrocutions from contacting power lines. They may occur in the workplace, inside or outside our homes and apartments, or in offices and commercial establishments that we may be visiting. To determine if a valid personal injury claim may be present for a particular electrical injury incident, it will always be necessary to understand exactly how and why the incident occurred and then analyze the possibilities to determine what individuals, corporations, and/or public entities may be liable — legally responsible — for the incident and the injuries. Experienced personal injury attorneys will often rely upon an expert reconstruction of electrical injury incidents — in addition to their own skills and legal knowledge — to pinpoint these facts.

What Needs to be Understood?

For any personal injury claim or lawsuit, it is necessary to understand and prove what injuries were sustained and who was responsible. If a negligent motorist strikes a pedestrian and causes a broken leg, it’s usually fairly straightforward for the ordinary person to understand what injury was caused and who was responsible for causing it. Electrical injury incidents, however, can be considerably more difficult for the ordinary person – whether an insurance adjuster or a potential juror – to understand, both because the injuries can be of a type many people aren’t familiar with and because the failure of electrical devices or electrical systems (and who may be responsible) can be far more complicated to prove.

What Makes an Expert Witness?

Expert witnesses may be involved at several stages of a personal injury claim or lawsuit, from the very initial investigation of the injury incident — helping a personal injury attorney understand how the incident occurred and how it caused an injury — all the way up to the point of trial — providing testimony to help a jury understand how the injury occurred, who was responsible, and what the results were. Any expert witness who may eventually be called upon to provide testimony, however, needs to:

  • Be technically competent, well-educated, and up-to-date in their area of expertise;
  • Be able to serve effectively as a consultant in their area of expertise;
  • Have the necessary professional qualifications to provide expert testimony at trial; and
  • Be able to clearly communicate their technical opinions to people who aren’t experts in their field, such as attorneys, insurance adjusters, and jurors.
What Types of Experts May be Involved in Reconstructing Electrical Injury Incidents?

Several different categories of expert witnesses may be consulted in reconstructing an electrical injury incident, depending upon the particular facts of the case. These may include:

Treating Doctors — The injured person’s own treating doctors are nearly always the first group of expert witnesses with whom an injured party’s personal injury attorney is likely to consult about how the injury may have occurred. These medical providers’ records provide an evidentiary basis for just what injuries were diagnosed, which will help point toward and eventually prove the physical causes of the injury incident. Separately, their records and testimony also form the basis for the plaintiff’s “damages” claims, defining the nature and severity of the injuries that were sustained and the extent of any residual long-term or permanent injuries and associated damages.

Retained Medical Experts — Often, a personal injury attorney will also consult with retained medical experts who can provide more specific details describing the injury and how it was sustained. Not all medical doctors have the greatest possible knowledge and experience of every possible injury or medical condition, so a retained medical expert who focuses on a specific, narrow area of medical expertise may be able to give a greater understanding of how an injury occurred and what the results may be than would a more generally-trained primary care physician or emergency room doctor.

Forensic Electrical EngineersExperts in electrical systems may be called upon to provide professional opinions and testimony regarding several possible topics, depending upon the facts of the individual case. If an electrical injury appears to have been caused by a defect in a physical device — a power tool or home appliance, for example — the forensic electrical engineer will likely be expected to describe not only how the defective device caused the injury but also an opinion as to whether the device was based upon a technically sound and safe design and whether the device in question actually appeared to have been manufactured per that design, maintained and used securely, etc. The forensic electrical engineer can also help communicate to non-experts how a non-obvious mechanism of injury can occur – for example, explaining the physics of how someone merely in the vicinity of an electrical source rather than in direct contact with it can suffer a shock or electrocution.

Safety Experts — Safety experts may be instrumental in reconstructing electrical injury incidents that harm people while they are on the job. Many people who work with or around electricity or electrical devices will have received safety training about doing so safely. A safety consultant can provide expert answers to questions such as:

  • What safeguards should be present when construction workers are performing tasks near overhead power lines?
  • What are the proper safety practices for de-energizing electrical systems before performing maintenance work or repairs?
  • Were the safety practices taught to the workers the correct safety practices?
  • Were the safety practices actually being followed?

Human Factors ExpertsHuman factors experts are similar to safety experts, but they tend to focus on how ordinary, untrained individuals may act in a situation instead of workers who have been specifically trained how to act in similar circumstances. Human factors experts can, for example, help explain why electrical device operating instructions may be inadequate for first-time users of electrical equipment if the instruction authors didn’t take into account how inexperienced people might “instinctively” use the equipment. Sometimes, authors of instruction guides may unconsciously assume that first-time users would have the authors deeper understanding of how the equipment should safely be used.

Often, reconstructing an electrical injury incident will involve assembling and consulting with a team of experts, each bringing their own unique knowledge to prove how the incident occurred, who was liable for it, and what injuries resulted. Assembling this team of experts is an essential service that an experienced personal injury attorney can provide to clients.

View this video that describes the study and practice of electrical engineering:

Sacramento Electrical Injury Lawyer

Hello, my name is Ed Smith, and I’m a Sacramento Electrical Injury Lawyer. Many electrical injuries may result from technically and medically complicated circumstances and require understanding how and why the injury victims or people in their vicinity may have unsafely interacted with electrical equipment. Proving to an insurance adjuster, defense attorney, or jurors just how and why an electrical injury occurred is similarly complex, and expert witnesses with a deep understanding of the relevant factors are crucially important. An experienced personal injury attorney will know both the type of expert witnesses to retain and the individual experts who are top in their fields. If you or a loved one have been injured due to an electrical accident, please contact us for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400, or reach out to us via our online contact form.

We are proud to be among the injury attorneys of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and to be members of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

You can see some of our prior case results on our past verdicts and settlements page, and check out our client reviews at Yelp, Google, and Avvo.

Photo by Erik Karits from Pixabay

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