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| Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn

Imagine being shocked by a power line carrying more than twice the votage used to executed a prisoner in an electric chair, but surviving. That’s exactly what happened to a man in Greene County, Alabama (AL).

Ronald McCarter was paving a portion of Alabama Highway 14 when his vehicle struck a low-hanging power line A charge of 7,600 volts of electricity were sent through his right arm. Since the accident, McCarter has been in constant pain and must wear a special sleeve to reduce swelling. Sadly, he can no longer contract his own hand. His doctors say he will likely suffer pain for the rest of his life.

McCarter decided to sue the Black Warrior Electric company for his injuries. There are national height regulations and standards for power lines that carry such a high level of power. An accident like this likely would have never happened had the company hung the lines at the proper level and inspected and serviced them routinely.

OSHA also has a federal regulation mandating that cranes cannot be situated within a certain number of feet from an overhead power lines.

A Greene County jury awarded McCarter $1.5 million for his injuries. Birmingham attorney John McElheny, who represented McCarter for the firm Wettermark Holland & Keith, told Tuscaloosa Magazine that while he was satisfied with the results, “Ronald McCarter would much rather have the use of his arm back. This verdict made him happy, it validated the story that he’s been telling for the last six years.”

As a personal injury attorney based in Virginia (VA), stories like this one really hit home. The man was simply doing his job paving a road when his life changed forever. Sadly, being electrically shocked on the job is more common than one might expect. The $1.5 million he receives will certainly help cover medical bills and provide him with a better quality of life, but nothing can truly make up for the lifetime of pain doctors say he will face. The universality of this situation – and the reality that it could happen to anyone – is truly shocking.

Each of us handles electricity in our daily lives without thinking about it, and we often forget just how dangerous it can be. There was a tragic case a few years ago where a young softball player grabbed a steel fence surrounding the field and was electrocuted and killed. We have handled electric shock cases in the past and know what needs to be done if a electric shock injury claim is filed.


About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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