Hot Liquid Burn Lawyer
Injured by a hot liquid at a restaurant in Oregon? Call us today at (541) 948-8830 for a Free Injury Consultation.
A question that restaurant owners and consumers have been struggling with for decades is, how responsible are companies for the products they serve. In particular, restaurants that serve hot coffee have often found themselves to be the target of lawsuits after their patrons suffer severe burn injuries.
If you or a loved one have suffered a severe hot liquid burn injury, contact Miller & Hopp Attorneys at Law today for your free injury consultation. We have litigated and resolved claims relating to both burns and claims against restaurants for burn injuries.
The Famous Burn Injury Case
In 1992, the issue with serving hot drinks first achieved national attention in the famous burn injury case of Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants. In February of that year, 79-year-old customer Stella Liebeck ordered a cup of coffee from the drive-thru at McDonald’s, she was a passenger in her grandson’s car. She placed the cup between her knees so she could remove the lid to add cream and sugar, but she accidentally spilled the coffee into her lap. The result was third-degree burns because the scalding liquid burned her thighs, buttocks, and groin area.
Her injuries were so bad that she had to remain in the hospital for eight days to undergo skin grafts. Even after being discharged, she required in-home care for another three weeks. The burn injury left her permanently disfigured, and she was partially disabled.
After the event came to light in the media, one would assume that she would have earned sympathy. Instead, public opinion was mostly against her, and many blamed her for the accident. Her lawyer only sought a settlement of $20,000, which was enough to cover her medical bills and the time her family had missed from work to help take care of her. McDonald’s countered the offer with $800. However, the dispute went to trial, and Liebeck was awarded $2.7 million. Prior to an appeal, the case was eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.
McDonald’s was serving it’s coffee at 180–190°F, and while this temperature fell within the industry standard, the liquid was hot enough to cause third-degree burns in less than seven seconds. The company was aware that its coffee was causing injuries. In fact, they had received an estimated 700 reports of customers who had suffered burn injuries within the ten years leading up to the Liebeck incident and had also settled those incidents. Therefore, negligence did play a role in this case.
Hot Liquid Burns and Personal Injury Lawsuits
The Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants case continues to be talked about for several reasons. The case prompted a controversial debate around the concept of tort reform. Incidents of hot liquid burns remain a serious issue today and are still the cause of lawsuits.
The potential for a burn injury from a hot liquid spill should not be discounted. In Liebeck’s case, she suffered severe burns, spent days in the hospital, and was left partially disabled and scarred.
A hot liquid burn injury lawsuit will involve determining whether or not the defendant can be held negligent. People are expected to take reasonable precautions when they are knowingly in the presence of a hot liquid. However, the business could be held liable if:
- The temperature of the liquid was excessively hot
- It was improperly stored
- Sufficient warning labels were not posted
If liability is determined, it is possible for the plaintiff to sue for damages to cover their medical expenses, lost income, and emotional discomfort.
Burned by a Hot Liquid?
If you or a loved one have suffered a severe hot liquid burn injury, contact Miller & Hopp Attorneys at Law today for your free injury consultation. Our personal injury attorneys and legal team have years of experience in the personal injury field of law in Oregon. Miller & Hopp Attorneys at Law will take the time to assess and evaluate your case thoroughly, and there’s no fee unless we get a settlement or judgment for you.
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