The guests were invited, the plans were made, the decorations were in place. The big day had finally arrived. The ceremony was held, photos were taken and the reception was in full swing.
The bride and groom had decided on a relaxed décor outdoors near the beach. They had three different tents set up. One for dancing, one for food with tables and chairs, and one for conversation and socializing. Each tent had a slightly different color scheme from the last, matching the colors of the wedding party. In the center of each tent and placed strategically around the interior were lanterns providing just the right amount of ambient light.
The toasts were made, the cake had been cut, the bouquet was tossed. Guests mingled and moved freely between the tents.
One wedding guest was having a fun time and decided to remove her shoes. As she did, she grabbed the center pole of the tent to steady herself. She felt like her hand was thrown off the pole and then her arm touched the pole and she felt electricity go down her arm, hip, leg and then exit out her toes. She let out a screech and crumpled to the ground. She never lost consciousness, but she felt very tired.
She was taken to the emergency room of the local hospital where she was checked out and it was confirmed her symptoms were compatible with electric shock. The toes on her foot were still numb when she arrived at the hospital and remained numb for a couple of days following.
The guest was surprised when one of the waitstaff mentioned having touched the pole and noticed a shock, but said it was mild. He said it felt more like a shock you get in the winter walking along the carpet with socks on. He was wearing a shirt and jacket and shoes with a rubber sole so that may have been why. The father of the bride touched the pole after the young lady was injured and didn’t notice anything.
The wedding attendees moved into the other two tents away from that area and carried on with the reception. The next day they contacted the rental store and let them know what had happened. When the employees arrived to gather up the items that had been rented for the event, they asked to be shown where the accident occurred.
One of the lanterns that was hung at the center pole had a worn electric cord which permitted the bare wire to touch the metal pole causing the pole to become electrified. Since the lantern was not permanently affixed to the pole it had some swing and moved about. The feeling was that the center pole was not electrified all night, only when the cord would touch the pole. That is possibly why the father of the bride did not notice anything when he touched the pole and the member of the waitstaff noticed only a mild shock.
The young lady who was injured at the wedding that day suffered from headaches, blurred vision and extreme fatigue. Her doctor told her she was having concussion type symptoms. She was a college student and found it difficult to attend classes away from home due to her headaches and fatigue. That brought on a bout of anxiety. After many months of treatment and discussions with attorneys, this settled at nearly six-figures. It is vitally important to check your inventory each and every time it comes back into your rental store and each time it goes out. Your rental customers count on you to be the experts and place their trust in you.
Mary Ann Gormly is a loss analyst for ARA Insurance, Overland Park, Kan. For more information, call 800-821-6580 or visit ARAinsure.com.