Litigation Expert Witness Service

Electrocution Investigation

Vista Engineering & Consulting provides expert witness investigations that involve electrocutions and electrical shock injuries associated with workplace exposures, consumer products, and electrical utilities. Contact us to be connected with the expert whose background most closely aligns with the disputed issues in your case.


Litigation Expert Witness Service

Why are some electrocution or electric shocks worse than others?

The effect of an electric current flowing through the human body is called electric shock. These effects can range from pain, muscular contractions, and difficulty in breathing, to burns, cardiac arrest, respiratory failure or death. The severity of injury is primarily determined by three things:

Amount of current
Duration of current
Path of current through the body

It takes very little current to injure or kill a human being. The term “electrocution” is death by an electric shock.

Amount of Current

The amount of shock current is based on the voltage and is based on Ohm’s Law. Greater the voltage means greater current, so there is greater danger from higher voltage. Very low shock currents (1 mA) can cause tingling. Higher shock currents (above 10 mA) can paralyze or “freeze” muscles, preventing a person from releasing a tool, a wire, or other object. A typical home circuit breaker trips at 15,000 mA or 20,000 mA.


The severity of the injury also depends on the length of time of the shock. If the shock is short, and the current is low, it may only be painful. If an equivalent level of current flows through the same path and the shock lasts a longer duration of time, it could be fatal.

In cases where the causation or severity of injury is called to question, Vista Engineering consults our own in-house biomechanical engineers to address these technical issues.

Current Path Through the Body

Electricity takes advantage of all available paths. The primary flow of electrical current flows in the path of least resistance, but lesser flows of electrical current will occur in other available paths. Factors that influence the resistance of a body include: contact surface area, skin moisture, contact pressure, and the conductivity of the body parts (skin, blood, muscles, bones, joints, and other tissues/organs). Current through the heart may result in tissue damage, fibrillation, or cardiac arrest. 


Investigation Methods

The engineers at Vista Engineering regularly investigate electrical shock injuries and electrocutions to determine their cause. Investigations normally include an evaluation of equipment installations in accordance with electrical and safety codes, product/appliance/equipment designs, maintenance/repair issues, possible defects, and the adequacy of warnings and instructions.

Electrocution Experts

Our engineers have experience in electrical design, industrial automation, electrical controls, machinery and workplace safety. We apply expertise to forensic casework involving electric shock injuries, fires of electrical origin, and failure analysis, as well as various issues involving electrical systems safety and performance.

Several members of the team regularly investigate electrical shock incidents.