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Electricity Cases Summarized By Personal Injury Attorney

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Electricity and the related topic of personal injury. For more information on electrocution see the pages on Wikipedia.

Electricity-Cases

2001 City of Bedford v. Zimmerman, 262 Va. 81, 547 S.E.2d 211.

Electrician sued City alleging it was negligent in failing to turn off electrical power to temporary power meter base. Jury verdict in favor of plaintiff was upheld on grounds that issue of whether electrician was reasonable in cutting wires to base without ascertaining whether supply of electricity had been terminated was for jury to determine. In this case, City had admitted negligence in failing to turn off power. Plaintiff, in his experience as electrical subcontractor in City of Bedford, had never encountered a temporary meter base which was energized with electricity that did not have a meter in it or a cover on top of it and because of that, he felt confident that power had been turned off to this base. In addition, plaintiff had been told that power was turned off. Even though plaintiff testified that a Class B electrical contractor has duty to ascertain whether supply of electricity to wires has been terminated, jury in this case could find that plaintiff complied with his duty because City’s superintendent had informed him that source of power had been terminated.

1992 The Kroger Co. v. Appalachian Power Co., 244 Va. 560, 422 S.E.2d 757.

Kroger sued power company alleging negligence in providing electricity causing damage within line owned by customer. When transmission line is neither built, owned, nor controlled by utility, then utility is neither bound to inspect line nor obligated to respond to damages for injuries sustained by its defective construction or conditions, unless it supplies current actually knowing of these conditions and the current is cause of injury sued for. Evidence in case did not support those facts, and as such power company under terms of tariff was not liable.

1989 Kelly v. Virginia Power, 238 Va. 32, 381 S.E.2d 219.

Plaintiff hit overhead line with ladder. Danger of electricity is matter of common knowledge to all persons of ordinary intelligence and experience. Plaintiff in this case was painter who said he was alert for overhead electric lines. Fact that he did not know this line was electric line does not excuse his contributory negligence as matter of law.

1983 VEPCO v. Winesett, 225 Va. 459, 303 S.E.2d 868.

Plaintiff electrocuted while cutting tree limbs that were near overhead power lines. Court said that questions of negligence and contributory negligence were for jury. Court refused to grant instruction on assumption of risk. Verdict for plaintiff sustained.

1982 VEPCO v. Savoy Constr. Co., 224 Va. 36, 294 S.E.2d 811.

Action for damages caused by explosion and fire in pollution control plant under construction. Contractor found in violation of building code as matter of law; utility’s negligence in installing electrical cable held question for jury. Parties stipulated that National Electric Code had been adopted by statute in Virginia.

1981 Floyd S. Pike Elec. Contractor v. Commissioner, Dep’t of Labor & Indus., 222 Va. 317, 281 S.E.2d 804.

OSHA violations alleged as to electrical inspector.

1978 Richardson-Wayland Elec. Corp. v. VEPCO, 219 Va. 198, 247 S.E.2d 465.

VEPCO and its contractor damaged private home while repairing electrical lines. Parties had contract whereby contractor agreed to indemnify VEPCO. Clause valid if VEPCO acting in private capacity; but time of injury, not time of contracting, determines status. Since at time of injury, VEPCO was acting in public capacity (supplying electrical services to consumer) clause was invalid and contractor was not required to indemnify VEPCO.

1976 VEPCO v. Hampton Redev. & Hous. Auth., 217 Va. 30, 225 S.E.2d 364.

Infant plaintiffs were residents of housing development owned and operated by housing authority and were injured when they came into contact with electricity “switching point box,” installed and maintained by VEPCO. Housing authority has limited immunity.

1974 Appalachian Power Co. v. La Force, 214 Va. 438, 201 S.E.2d 768.

High degree of care imposed on electric companies. Because plaintiff was either trespasser or bare licensee, defendant was under no duty to anticipate plaintiff’s presence nor to keep land in reasonably safe condition.

1965 VEPCO v. McCleese, 206 Va. 127, 141 S.E.2d 755.

Where expert evidence is offered that power lines were erected in accord with approved practices, and at height greater than that required by code, duty to insulate is not absolute, if it is not reasonable to foresee or anticipate that persons will come in contact with lines. In this case, it was not reasonable to foresee or anticipate that plaintiff would come in contact with user.

1963 Robbins v. Old Dominion Power Co., 204 Va. 390, 131 S.E.2d 274.

Child climbed utility tower and touched uninsulated wire. There was no evidence of how plaintiff climbed tower nor any causal connection between alleged negligence and plaintiff’s injuries.

1963 Smith v. VEPCO, 204 Va. 128, 129 S.E.2d 655.

Those engaged in distribution of electricity are required to use high degree of care, commensurate with danger involved to prevent injury to others. At places where it may reasonably be expected that people will frequent for business or pleasure, there is duty to keep wires carrying dangerous voltage properly insulated. Plaintiff in this case was found guilty of contributory negligence as matter of law in allowing surveyor’s rod to come in contact with electrical wire. It is common knowledge that electricity is dangerous.

1962 VEPCO v. Mabin, 203 Va. 490, 125 S.E.2d 145.

Plaintiff repairing gutter on his roof, came in contact with uninsulated wire. Verdict for plaintiff.

1961 Appalachian Power Co. v. Matthews, 202 Va. 747, 120 S.E.2d 291.

Decedent was familiar with dangers of electricity. Decedent had been warned of proximity and danger of nearby wires yet in disregard of warning he removed his glove and grabbed wire. Contributory negligence as matter of law.

1961 VEPCO v. Daniel, 202 Va. 731, 119 S.E.2d 246.

Plaintiff touched live electrical wire. When transmission line is neither built, owned nor controlled by utility, such utility is neither bound to inspect line nor obligated to respond in damages for injuries sustained by its defective construction or condition unless it supplies current actually knowing of these conditions and current is cause of injury.

1957 Watson v. VEPCO, 199 Va. 570, 100 S.E.2d 774.

Plaintiff while installing pipe in ground allowed it to come in contact with overhead electrical wire. Contributory negligence as matter of law. It has long been recognized that danger of electricity is matter of common knowledge to all persons of ordinary knowledge and experience.

1952 Northern Va. Power Co. v. Bailey, 194 Va. 464, 73 S.E.2d 425.

Those engaged in distribution of electricity are required to use high degree of care. When electric company puts power lines through apple orchard and company is on notice that trees must be picked and pruned by people on ladders, then this may constitute notice of potential danger.

1951 Trimyer v. Norfolk Tallow Co., 192 Va. 776, 66 S.E.2d 441.

Those who engage in production and distribution of electricity must exercise high degree of care, commensurate with danger involved, to prevent injury to others. At places where others have right and may reasonably be expected to go for work, business or pleasure there is duty to keep wires carrying dangerous voltage insulated. But this is not absolute duty.

1951 Sadler v. Lynch, 192 Va. 344, 64 S.E.2d 664.

Plaintiff electrocuted by touching truck electrified by power line. Plaintiff guilty of contributory negligence in not heeding warning.

1951 Andrews v. Appalachian Elec. Power Co., 192 Va. 150, 63 S.E.2d 750.

Under res ipsa loquitur, proof that injury has resulted from contact with highly charged wire which is under exclusive operation and control of defendant and is out of its proper place, raises prima facie presumption that defendant was negligent. Electric companies are held to high degree of care in construction and maintenance of dangerous appliances employed by them. Such high degree of care by those using public streets for transmission of electric power includes duty of making reasonable and proper inspection of their wires and appliances. There is no authority that requires that electric companies insulate their overhead wires. Discussion of utilization of other means of avoiding accidents in regards to fallen wires.

1945 Stephens v. VEPCO, 184 Va. 94, 34 S.E.2d 374.

Plaintiff allegedly struck by bolt of electricity from nearby utility pole. No showing of negligence on part of defendant.

1943 Welding Eng’rs, Inc. v. Shufflebarger, 182 Va. 59, 27 S.E.2d 903.

Workmen’s compensation case where evidence was sufficient to establish electrocution as cause of death.

1943 Ross v. Schneider, 181 Va. 931, 27 S.E.2d 154.

Where employer should have known of potential danger of electrical wires, but informed employee that there was no danger, this is sufficient to establish negligence on part of employer.

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Electricity Cases Summarized By Personal Injury Attorney

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