An explosion at a downtown Phoenix APS underground electrical vault on Sunday night claimed the life of a public service worker and injured another, as well as leading to a number of power outages in the area. The explosion occurred during routine maintenance. The injured worker escaped the vault while still sustaining burns requiring hospitalization. APS had to properly deenergize the vault before firefighters could retrieve the deceased worker and extinguish the blaze. The fire was visible from the street as flames escaped through a manhole cover.

Whenever someone is injured or killed on the job, a personal injury or wrongful death claim can provide compensation, not only for medical, funeral, and insurance bills, but also for lost income and emotional distress caused for that grieving family. Worker’s compensation claims simply cover accidents that happen in the workplace. By contrast, personal injury suits claim an injury occurred due to someone else’s oversight, whether by another worker, a manufacturer, or the company itself. Likewise, a wrongful death suit claims a death could have been avoided if not for negligence. If last night’s explosion was caused by negligence, the workers’ families can seek compensation from APS, machinery manufacturers, or another party.

Power companies can be held responsible by customers, citizens, and employees for injuries during fires and power outages. Thankfully, no additional injuries or deaths have been reported from this incident. Nonetheless, one individual is dead, another severely burned, and outages continue. For those at risk, experts advise having a list of contact information for utility companies, emergency services, and health care device manufacturers. Have temporary back-up power sources, clear instructions on how to use those power sources, and a plan to contact help. APS has also provided a map of the buildings affected in downtown Phoenix, found here.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.