The Last Wire

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Q: Jack was an electrician, assigned to work on a demolition project.  In an office, he found wires sheathed in plastic lying on the floor.  He was supposed to (a) strip away two or three inches of the plastic sheathing, (b) use his pliers to separate the black, white, and copper wires, (c) strip one-quarter inch of insulation from the black wire and (d) use his multimeter to test the voltage.  Using a pair of wire strippers, he cut into the black wire and was electrocuted.

A: An attorney for Jack’s estate is likely to pursue three theories of liability against the owner of the building and the general contractor: common-law negligence, a violation of Labor Law § 200 and a violation of Labor Law § 241(6).

The theory under section 241(6) will be based upon at least two sections of the Industrial Code.  Under section 23-1.13(b)(4), Jack should not have been permitted to work so close to an electric power circuit – unless he was protected against electric shock e.g. by de-energizing and grounding the circuit.  Under section 23-3.2(a), if it is necessary to maintain an electric line during demolition, the line must be protected with substantial coverings or relocated; otherwise, electric lines must be shut off and capped or otherwise sealed before the project begins.

But, may I ask, who are you to Jack?  The elements of a cause of action to recover damages for wrongful death are (1) the death of a human being, (2) the wrongful act, neglect or default of the defendant by which the decedent’s death was caused, (3) the survival of distributees who suffered pecuniary loss by reason of the death and (4) the appointment of a personal representative of the decedent.  Accordingly, an attorney’s willingness to speak with you is likely to depend upon your being either a distributee of Jack’s estate or his ‘personal representative – i.e., his executor, if he left a will, or the administrator of his estate, if he did not.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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