Man electrocuted by faulty wiring - what charges can be filed?

Bad wiring blamed for electrocution

Evidently the owner/manager had converted an older home into apartments and the wiring was done incorrectly, so that the dryer was “hot” when it was plugged in.

What, if any, criminal charges could be brought against the owner in this case? Negligent homicide? Manslaughter? Building code violations?

Or is it likely to merely result in a civil suit?

In most places there could be criminal charges filed. But it is doubtful because it is a situation where it is easier for all involved (especially the district attorney) to resolve it with a massive civil trial.

If the landlord had a contractor do the wiring, he also would probably be a lot harder target to hit with a criminal trial, especially if it was a contractor who was licensed. Because then it’s easy to argue that the landlord had every reasonable expectation to think the outlet was safe. This would also make the contractor liable for action as well.

This is one reason that if you ever move into new housing, especially budget/low rent/low quality housing (future college students take note of this, in my days I lived in some very shitty places) you should check all the wiring and outlets before using them.

I can’t imagine any criminal charges being filed. Negligence is not a crime, with very few exceptions – the exceptions are specifically enumerated in statutes. Unless they can prove that he intentionally (or at least knowingly) wired the sockets incorrectly, there’s no case. There is a case for civil penalties, because there’s a clear duty, patent negligence, and a wrongful death.

Having worked as a contractor, believe me when I say that everyone involved will be sued. The lawyer will get he name of the owner of the building, landlord, general contractor (if any), electrical contractor, the electriciain who installed it (if there are adequate records, if not, they’ll use that against the electrician), the supplier of the equipment and probably the manufacturer. They’ll also likely sue the hair dryer manufacturer.

Now, after all is said and done, the only lawsuit standing will probably be against the electrical contractor as a firm (the landlord/GC will probably also go through). Hopefully, they’ll have insurance/bond for this work and that will take care of it (they’ll likely settle out of court). IME, I’d say that’s a given, but unfortunately, it will likely be years before any cash goes out the door and doubtful that after lawyer’s costs, the family will get anything. The insurance companies are phenomenally well protected and since they have lawyers on staff, they will essentially drag it out until the other plantiff can’t afford to send their lawyer after them any more.

In the UK there would very likely be criminal convictions.

The first thing would be to prove that the socket was wired incorrectly, easy enough.

Then it would have to be proven that the responsibility for the socket being maintained was that of the landlord, easy.

The next thing would be to prove that the landlord had a duty of care to the tenant, which again would be easy.

Would would take some argument is accounting for the person who had carried out any work on the socket.

It’s possible that an electrical contractor ahd carried out the work, buts it is not unusual at all that this had been installed by either the landlord, or an acquaintance of the landlord, neither of which might be competant to carry out the task.

Its possible that the landlord, and electrical contractor might argue that a previous tenant had done some work, however the onus would still be on the landlord to ensure that the accomodation was safe.

There have been cases where lanndlords have been imprisoned for having faulty gas heaters on the premises which have killed tenants with carbon monoxide fumes, and I know of one ‘electrician’ who had wired up a central heating system, but instead of using four core cable for the controller(which means one earth core and three circuit cores) thias person used three core cable, and used the earth wire as a circuit wire and operated the system without any earth whatsoever.

That electrician had been recalled several times as ‘something didn’t seem right’ but he never corrected his bad workmanship, which led to the female occupant of the house being electrocuted through her stainless steel sink upon which rested an electric kettle which had developed a fault.

Usually health and safety law violations in the UK tend to have relatively low fines and fairly short prison sentences but convictions open up the legal route to civil suits and very large compensation claims.

From what I’ve heard on the news, there were no contractors involved. If there had been, this probably wouldn’t have happened. Apparently the owner either wired it himself or had a friend do it.

BTW, it was a clothes dryer, not a hair dryer he was plugging in.

Aha. I’ll read the link before replying next time. :smack: If the landlord did it himself, he’s fucked. Unless, of course, he can pin it on a city inspector who failed in his job, which is hard as hell to do.

Working outside of city codes is liable to get the book thrown at you and those books are big indeed.