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Electric Shock Drowning

Last month, Alabama teenager Carmen Johnson was tragically killed when she dove off of a dock into a lake where a malfunctioning light had leaked an electric charge. The electrical currents soon paralyzed Carmen, who drowned before the power could be cut. Carmen’s shocking death has brought attention to the recent and devastating trend of accidental deaths caused by leaky electrical currents.


Electric shock drowning occurs when a victim becomes paralyzed by electrical currents that have leaked into the water from a dock, pool, boat, or marina. Electricity leaks have a number of causes, including:

  • Faulty underwater lighting;
  • Aging wiring;
  • A failure to inspect wiring regularly;
  • Nearby lighting and circuits that are not grounded by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs);
  • Electrical cords or appliances falling into the water; and
  • A failure to ground other electrical equipment, such as sump pumps and boat lifts.

Common Injuries

As in the tragic case of Carmen Johnson, electric shocks in bodies of water can be deadly. In some circumstances, however, life-saving measures are taken in time to prevent death, although other medical problems may result, including:

  • Neurological damage;
  • Blood clot formation;
  • Damage to the cardiovascular system;
  • Violent muscle spasms;
  • Organ failure;
  • Respiratory system damage; and
  • Destruction of muscle tissue.

Aside from the devastating emotional toll these injuries can take on the victim, they can also leave grieving families with expensive medical bills. Recovery can take months, or even years, of painful surgeries and therapy. Other costs may include:

  • Ambulance fees;
  • Prescription medications;
  • Appointments with specialists;
  • Medical equipment, such as crutches and wheelchairs;
  • Psychiatric care;
  • Travel expenses; and
  • Physical therapy.

Liability and Damages

When electric shock drowning occurs on another person’s property, he or she can be held liable for any injuries that result due to a failure to take reasonable steps to make the area safe. Electric shock drowning accidents can also be caused by faulty wiring. If the product was defective either due to a manufacturing flaw, a design problem, or because it had inadequate warnings, the manufacturer or distributor may also be held liable.

Negligent parties can be required to compensate victims for a variety of other costs besides medical expenses, including:

  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of future income;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress;
  • Loss of consortium; and
  • Replacement or repair of damaged property.

Because Maryland adheres to the legal theory of contributory negligence, third parties cannot be held liable for electric shock accidents if the victim’s negligence contributed in any way to the injuries.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

Electric shock accidents can be a devastating emotional, physical, and financial experience for victims and their families, so if you lost a loved one in an accident caused by another’s negligence, it is vital to contact an attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our Waldorf personal injury attorneys have extensive experience representing clients who have been injured in accidents in Waldorf, St. Charles, Clinton, Charles County, St Mary’s County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland. Please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at 301-804-2312 today to schedule a free consultation.