When you use a public bathroom, the last thing you expect to happen is that you will receive an electrical injury from a hand dryer. While incidents like this are rare, accidents and injuries can still happen. If you suffer an injury in this way, you may want to understand if you can file a personal injury lawsuit. Find out more here.
Why companies use electrical hand dryers
Many business owners use electrical hand dryers in their public bathrooms. These simple devices cut down on paper waste and minimize mess in the bathroom. However, these supposedly convenient devices can also pose an electrical risk to users.
Like any other electrical appliance, hand dryers develop faults. Common examples include these:
Worn rotator brushes
Damaged or dirty coils
Loose connections between the heater element and circuit board
These issues are often easy to fix, but without maintenance, some faults may cause dangerous electrical errors. What's more, even new hand dryers create problems. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission will sometimes issue a recall for a certain model. These recalls sometimes take place because of the risk of electric shock from a faulty appliance.
How premises liability law applies
In the United States, premises liability laws generally hold landowners and tenants responsible for an injury that somebody incurs on their property due to a dangerous condition. When you suffer an injury like this, you will normally need to show that
you were lawfully on the property.
the owner of the property was negligent in some way.
you suffered an injury due to this negligence.
Assuming you entered a public bathroom without forcing entry, you probably won't have much trouble with the first point. It's also relatively easy to gather evidence to show the link between an appliance and an electrical injury. However, it's often more complex to prove negligence.
Negligence and hand dryer injuries—things to consider
To show that the property owner was negligent, you will need to show that he or she knew (or should have known) about the danger and that he or she failed to do anything about it. Alternatively, negligence may arise because the property owner failed to repair the appliance properly, or you may need to show that there were not enough visible warnings about a faulty and potentially dangerous appliance.
A personal injury attorney can help you compile this evidence. He or she will have experience and knowledge that can help you gather the right information. Examples of this information may include the following:
Maintenance records. Your attorney may need to ask the building owner for details of the last electrical safety test so you can see if this is in line with the National Electrical Code and any other applicable rules. Regular inspections should also comply with the manufacturer's recommendation.
Failure to respond to a product recall. The owner may have installed an appliance that later becomes subject to a product recall. If the owner fails to respond in a reasonable period, a court may argue that he or she was negligent.
Cleaning and care. Excess dirt and dust can interfere with the dryer's operation. An inspection of the appliance may reveal that the owner failed to routinely clean and care for the appliance.
No warning sign. Records may show that the owner reported a fault with the machine and then failed to take action to stop people using the dryer. A court may decide that a simple sign is not adequate if users can still use the faulty machine. Your attorney will look for evidence that the owner took all reasonable steps to take a faulty appliance out of service.
During this type of lawsuit, the court may look for evidence of comparative negligence, which means that your actions may have contributed to the injury. For example, if you used an appliance that displayed a large warning sign telling you to use another dryer, a court may decide that you were partly to blame for the incident. This ruling could lower the value of any compensation you receive.
If you suffer an injury from an electric hand dryer in a public bathroom, you may want to think about filing a personal injury lawsuit. Talk to an accident lawyer like Richard M Altman for more advice.