Power linemen/utility workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. They frequently have to climb to high elevations and perform difficult tasks, many of which are long and tedious. Linemen also work with power lines that carry large amounts of electrical current. These are the work conditions on an average day. When you throw in rain, snow, ice, and other types of adverse weather, conditions become several times worse. Given the numerous hazards utility workers face on a daily basis, it is critical for employers to follow all laws and safety regulations, and to take other appropriate steps to protect their workers.
Sadly, many utility companies are not living up to their duty to keep their employees (and customers) safe. In their desire to keep expenses low and grow their profits, power linemen, other utility workers, and consumers are often the ones who suffer. Whether it is failing to hire adequate staff, failing to properly train employees, failing to provide the proper safety equipment, or other negligent acts, when employers do not follow the governing laws and regulations and their employees or customers are hurt or killed, they must be held accountable.
At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we have over four decades of experience standing up for the working people of West Virginia. Our lawyers have helped countless clients recover damages from their employers over the years, and we have a successful track record with even the most complex cases; including power lineman injury and death cases involving large and highly regulated utility companies. We share the frustration of so many who believe that the system is rigged in favor of large entities and their armies of high-priced attorneys. We routinely go up against these types of well-funded adversaries, and we have the experience, resources, and dedication to skillfully advocate for the rights and interests of each client we serve.
Common Power Lineman/Utility Worker Hazards in West Virginia
Power linemen face a number of hazards on the job, some of the most common include:
- Failure to Use Proper Safety Gear: As mentioned earlier, utility companies need to follow all governing laws and regulations and equip their workers with proper personal protective equipment. Without the necessary equipment, linemen are exposed to far greater dangers during the course of their daily work.
- Slips and Falls: Since power linemen are frequently doing new installs, upgrades, and repairs while in high elevations, they are at increased risk of slip and fall injuries. Falls are among the leading causes of serious injury and death in the U.S. For this reason, extra precautions must be taken when utility workers are performing tasks in high places.
- Electrical Injuries: Being in regular contact with high-voltage wiring is one of the biggest dangers power linemen face. When high-voltage power lines are cut or otherwise damaged, they can cause workers to become electrocuted. Another danger these power lines pose is the possibility of explosions and fires; causing cuts, bruises, burns, and other severe injuries.
- Poor Weather Conditions: Utility workers are frequently called upon to help restore power during and after a major storm. This means workers are often out there dealing with conditions such as heavy rain, winds, flooding, ice, and snow. These conditions create additional job hazards. For example, the roads, walkways, and the top of power lines can be slippery, and there is a danger of being struck by debris because of downed power lines, trees, and buildings.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents: Power linemen are frequently under pressure to fix lines and restore power to consumers during times when driving conditions are hazardous. This can lead to more auto accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
- Stress from Working Long Hours: Utility workers are often asked to put in extended hours, especially after a storm when they are trying to get their customers’ power restored. After a while, the stress of these long hours weighs a person down, and this can make them more susceptible to injuries and illnesses.
- Toxic Substance Exposure: Up until the 1980s, asbestos was one of the materials used in power lines. Workers during those days also used to wear protective clothing made partially from asbestos. Although asbestos is no longer used in today’s power lines, many power lines that were put up prior to the 1980s still contain this toxic material. Power linemen who work on these lines are at risk of asbestos exposure and the accompanying health problems that can occur as a result.
Pursuing a Lineman Injury or Wrongful Death Claim in West Virginia
When an electrical lineman is injured in an accident at work, there are several legal avenues that could be pursued. The right option depends heavily on the specific circumstances of the case. This is another reason it is essential to work with a lawyer who has particular experience with these types of cases. A seasoned attorney can fully assess your case and explore every potential legal path toward obtaining full compensation.
When a power lineman is injured at work, workers’ compensation is one possible source to recover compensation for the injuries. Other potential options include:
- Deliberate Intent Claim: West Virginia allows employees to bring a direct lawsuit against employers in cases where it can be proven that the negligent acts of the employer were intended to put the employee into harm’s way. If this claim is successful, the plaintiff may collect damages above and beyond what is available through workers’ compensation. Deliberate intent cases are difficult to pursue, however, because there is a high burden of proof on the plaintiff. If you are considering this option, be sure your attorney understands this law and how to effectively argue this type of case in front of a judge or jury.
- Product Liability Claim: Some of the injuries power linemen sustain result from faulty, defective, or dangerous equipment they are working with. When this occurs, the injured party may be able to file a product liability claim against the designer, supplier, manufacturer, or distributor of the defective product.
- Third-Party Personal Injury Claim: Power line workers often work alongside subcontractors who are not employed by the utility company. For example, a tree removal company may be called in to take out a tree that fell and became intertwined with a power line. If the power lineman’s injury is the result of the negligent or reckless actions of a third party, they may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party for full damages.
Utility Company Accidents involving Consumers
If you are an individual who lives near a power line and the negligent actions of a utility company caused injury to you or a loved one, you may have the right to compensation. Utility companies are required to follow numerous safety rules and regulations. When a consumer is injured because of something that went wrong with a power line, we thoroughly investigate the incident to determine if the injury was caused by the utility company’s negligence.
Speak with a Seasoned West Virginia Electrical Worker Injury Lawyer
Utility companies have a responsibility to keep their workers and the public safe. When they fail in this duty, the attorneys at Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. go to work immediately to get to the bottom of the incident and put together a winning case. If you or a loved one has suffered a power lineman injury, or if you are a consumer who was injured because of a power line, contact us today at 800-497-0234 for a free consultation.
We work on a contingency basis. We don’t get paid unless you do.
We have offices conveniently located in Logan, Summersville, and Charleston, West Virginia, and our attorneys represent clients throughout the state. Do not hesitate to contact our firm to know more about our services or to simply get more information about what your case could involve. We look forward to serving you!