Electrical power sources include overhead power line contact, electric fences, household wiring, and electrical arcs. Electricity in water in pools and lakes can result in serious brain injury and even death with less than ten volts AC.
Any part of the body and head can be injured in electrical accidents. The medical effects of electrical injuries can range from mild and temporary to severe and permanent. Electrical injury cases usually raise medical and electrical engineering questions that require investigation and explanation. Some of these questions will be briefly described in this article.
The first question that arises in some cases is, “Did an electrical shock or other trauma actually occur?” Falls, nerve injury, and cardiac arrest can each result from electric shocks that may not produce any skin burns or marks. Nerve injury without skin burns can result in neuropathic, sympathetically mediated pain syndromes.
A second question is, “What was the mechanism (or mechanisms) of injury?” These can include burns, falls, nerve or other tissue damage from electrical effects, blast injury (from explosions, lightning, or electrical arcs), respiratory or cardiac arrest, and psychological effects.
A third question is, “Do the case materials support the claims being made?” Case materials can include ambulance, emergency department, hospital, autopsy, and other medical records from physicians and other health care providers. Also important are witness statements, reports of employers, fire department, police and other agencies. If case materials are not adequate, the expert may examine the person or suggest examinations or testing by specialists.
Unfortunately, a Fourth question that sometimes arises is, “ When the person died, how long was he aware of what was occurring during the accident, and was he feeling pain before he lost consciousness? The case materials usually provide the information needed to make this determination.
A fifth question is, “How can I convince the opposing attorney he is wrong and his case is weak? He has several experts who disagree with our understanding of the case. In this situation it is usually helpful for the expert (or experts) to write a report. The report reviews and explains the significance of the case materials mentioned above. Answers to the questions above are explained in the report(s).
Medical and scientific literature that supports opinions is quoted and explained. Such reports often lead to reasonable and early settlements. When there is no early settlement, opposing experts sometimes write reports. These are sometimes critiqued in writing, in depositions, and in court. Witnesses who can explain the literature that supports their opinions have an advantage.
Witnesses that make claims contrary to multiple literature publications are at a disadvantage. Finding and quoting such publications will help your expert explain why he or she disagrees with the opposing experts.
Expert 171’s specialty is in Electrical Accidents and Injuries. As an Emergency Medicine Physician Expert 171 treated patients with electrical and other injuries for over 25 years. Before becoming a physician he had worked as an electrical engineer for three years at the national Institutes of health. This involved electronic design of research instrumentation. He has taught courses on electrical injury at a University and has published a number of peer-reviewed papers on electrical injury.