Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 196–208 | Cite as

Electric fences and accidental death

  • Michael BurkeEmail author
  • Morris Odell
  • Heinrich Bouwer
  • Adam Murdoch
Case Report


Deaths which occur in association with agricultural electric fences are very rare. In fact, electric fences have undoubtedly saved numerous human and animal lives by safely and reliably keeping livestock confined to their fields and enclosures and thus preventing motor vehicle incidents when livestock get onto roads and highways. Accidental and intentional human contact with electric fences occurs regularly and causes little more than transient discomfort, however, on exceptional occasions, contact with electric fences appears to be directly related to the death of the individual. The precise pathophysiological cause of these deaths is unclear. We present two cases of deaths associated with electric fences, discuss the possible pathophysiological mechanisms in these cases, and suggest a universal approach to the medico-legal investigation and documentation of these deaths.


Electric fence Forensic Accidental death Cause of death Electrocution 


Compliance with ethical standards:


There was no external source of funding for this paper.

Conflict of interest

We have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain studies with human participants or animals.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victorian Institute of Forensic MedicineSouthbank, VicAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Forensic MedicineMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Equipment Safety and Energy EfficiencyEnergySafe VictoriaSouthbank VicAustralia

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