Trial for wrongful death of Pennsylvania woman begins

Everyone relies on utilities companies to provide access to necessary services, such as power, water and gas. Implicit in this reliance is the trust that all of the components required will be installed and maintained properly and safely. Any wrongful death lawyer knows that one mistake in installation, particularly when dealing with electricity, can be deadly.

The trial for the wrongful death of a Pennsylvania woman recently began. In 2009, the woman was electrocuted when a powerline that was installed behind her home fell on her. The line that fell was 7,200 volts, and caused burns on 85 percent of the woman's body. She died in the hospital three days after the incident. During the trial, an engineer that examined the failed powerline testified that the failure may have been caused by improper cleaning of the connecting wires. Improperly cleaning the connection can cause corrosion.

Though the laws vary by state, typically when someone is killed by the negligence of third party, a suit for wrongful death may be brought by the representative of the deceased's estate. A suit for wrongful death requires a showing that the death was caused by someone else's negligence, or failure to use the appropriate level of care in a given situation. A successful claim for wrongful death can result in an award for financial damages. Courts take into consideration the deceased person's age, life expectancy and the circumstances of the remaining family members. Punitive damages, which are intended to punish the person who acted negligently and caused the injury, may also be available in some cases.

The woman who died in the powerline accident is survived by two daughters. The trial is on-going.

Source:, "Engineer: bad cleaning likely caused electrocution," Paul Peirce, Nov. 17, 2012

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