An electrical utility company installing a power line has an obligation to ensure the line's stability in order to protect anyone who may live near it. The company also has a duty to respond immediately to protect the lives of anyone who may be affected if an accident occurs. In a recent wrongful death case, a power company was found to have shirked its responsibilities.
A jury in another state awarded $109 million in compensation to the family of a woman who died in an electrical accident involving a fallen power line erected by West Penn Power Co. The power line fell on the woman in her own backyard and burned for over 20 minutes. Her mother-in-law and two daughters witnessed the horrific scene as they waited for the power company to turn off the electricity.
The woman had apparently stepped into the yard to make a phone call after noting a tree in her backyard burning as a result of the power line falling. According to her family, this was at least the third time the line has failed. The woman's mother-in-law rushed to help her after the line fell, but also suffered burns. The other woman was subsequently trapped and in pain for 25 minutes and had several fingers severed. Doctors amputated her left arm in an attempt to save her life, but the woman died from her injuries three days later.
The utility company is accused of failing to train their employees to properly maintain the power line despite previous concerns the family had expressed. The power company has not yet decided whether to appeal the decision.
There are few things in life as traumatic as the untimely death of a loved one occurring as a result of an act of negligence. Those impacted by this type of disastrous event should learn about their rights to compensation. Though compensation for pain and suffering will never bring back a dead family member, those responsible for a death should be held accountable.
Source: Associated Press, "Jury awards $109M in Pa. power line death," Dec. 7, 2012