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Power Lines and Ultrahazardous Activities

Power LinesDowned power lines can cause serious injuries or even death. Power lines may be downed in a storm or in a car accident. They can cause fires and electrical shock injuries. When power line accidents are caused by a lack of maintenance or by improper repair, legal responsibility for injuries may lie with the electric company.

Types of Injuries

Common injuries caused by downed power lines may include burns, concussion, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, heart injuries, cognitive problems, loss of motor coordination, and many others. If a person suffers injuries because of a downed electrical line, he or she may have a cause of action against the power company if the power company was negligent in taking care of the related infrastructure.

Dangerous Instrumentalities

Generally, in order to avoid liability for negligence, a person must use reasonable care to ensure that others are not injured by their actions. But the standard of care required when dealing with power lines and in other dangerous activities is higher. California law imposes a duty of extra caution on people dealing with dangerous instrumentalities, or people engaging in activities that have a high level of risk.

To determine whether an activity is ultrahazardous, courts consider factors including:

  • Whether there is a high risk of harm to people or property;
  • The likelihood that harm will result from the activity;
  • Whether the actor is unable to eliminate risk by using reasonable care;
  • Whether the activity is uncommon, or not usually carried on by large percentage of the public;
  • The inappropriateness of the environment in which the activity is being carried out; and
  • The value of the activity to the community weighed against the danger of the activity.

In California, power lines are considered dangerous instrumentalities. Consequently, power companies and repair workers must be very careful when dealing with power lines and transmission equipment at any place where they are reasonably likely to cause injury to people or to property. They must take extra care when constructing, insulating, inspecting, maintaining, and repairing power lines. The failure to use extreme caution may constitute negligence.

Power Company’s Duties

To mitigate liability, a power company can either insulate power lines or locate them in a place where they will be harmless. The power company has a duty to make electrical wires safe under the circumstances. When the wires may come into contact with people or property, this duty means that they must either insulate or relocate them.

If you have suffered burns, electrocution, or other injuries because of an electrical hazard such as a downed power line, an experienced attorney can help you prepare your case and collect compensation for your injuries. Please call the dedicated Monterey County personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. at (408) 298-7200, for a free initial consultation.

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