When considering a cup of coffee or tea, the last thing on anyone’s mind is a lawsuit. However, there have been many documented cases of serious burns stemming from hot coffee or tea. One such incident that received global attention was the McDonald’s hot coffee incident of 1992 — the victim’s third-degree burns resulted in skin grafts along her inner thighs and a lawsuit amounting to $3 million.
While this was thirty years ago, the 1992 incident served as a precedent for handling lawsuits regarding coffee and tea burns all over the country. So, what does this mean for you?
If you have sustained burns from coffee or tea and can prove that the negligence of the restaurant that served it to you is to blame, you have a chance at a personal injury claim.
So, what do you need to know before filing a personal injury lawsuit regarding burns from coffee or tea? We’ll cover everything from negligence to maximizing the value of your claim below.
How to Prove Negligence
Florida’s statutes define “negligence” as the failure to act within reasonable standards of safety or care. The basic standards of safety vary from one situation to another. In personal injury cases, standards are rules or guidelines to keep people free from harm.
Personal injury claims for coffee and tea burns are tricky because it isn’t always clear who was negligent. For example, a person may have sustained burns because they abruptly moved their cups, spilling coffee on their wrists. In this instance, liability can fall on the person instead of the establishment.
However, the same person can sue the establishment for serving coffee at a temperature that causes burns, which is what happened in the 1992 incident. In this case, the victim sued Mcdonald’s for knowingly serving coffee at a scalding 190 degrees.
Negligence is further complicated in Florida due to the state’s comparative negligence policy.
Florida is a “comparative negligence state” when it comes to personal injury cases. This means that victims or plaintiffs can be partly to blame for their injuries in the eyes of the law. Hence, the question to be answered shifts from “who is at fault” to “to what extent is the defendant liable for their own injuries?” The answer to this question will influence the final amount of the settlement.
Let’s look at an example.
Imagine that you ordered a cup of coffee at a restaurant. Before serving your coffee, the staff member warned you that the coffee was hot. Shortly after, you spilled some coffee on your shirt. The coffee was so hot that you sustained second-degree burns and required medical care.
In this situation, you can argue that the restaurant is to blame for knowingly serving customers coffee that can burn them. However, it is also clear that the restaurant warned you of the risks, making them less liable for your injuries.
Because the restaurant was only partly at-fault, the compensation you could recover decreases. The exact amount will depend on the findings of the investigation and the extent to which the restaurant was negligent.
How to Maximize Compensation for Coffee or Tea Burns
If you’ve sustained burns from coffee or tea, you can file a personal injury claim against the establishment. To maximize your chances of getting full compensation despite Florida’s comparative negligence policies, follow these steps:
1. Call Our Daytona Beach Personal Injury Lawyers
Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, you must determine whether you have a case. You can do this with a case evaluation.
A case evaluation is an initial consultation. Lawyers will ask about your injuries and let you know what you can expect with the information provided. They’ll also walk you through their legal services.
Not all lawyers offer case evaluations for free, but we do. Reach out today for a free case evaluation from our Daytona Beach personal injury lawyers.
2. Be Transparent with Your Lawyers
In Florida, it’s all about proving that another person or party is 100% at fault for your injuries. One way in which you and your attorney can work towards establishing another party’s liability is by being honest with your lawyer.
Share everything that happened leading up to your coffee and tea burn injury. By giving your honest recollection of what happened, you will help your attorney build a solid case.
3. Keep Records
To build a solid case, you must have proof of your time at the establishment. Keep the receipt from your purchase of coffee or tea, as this will prove when and where you got the beverage that burnt you.
You must also keep receipts of hospital bills, medication purchases, and other medical expenses together in a file. These will help your personal injury lawyer calculate the settlement amount for your claim so you have the best chance to receive what you’re owed.
With receipts and records, your lawyer can build a compelling case to demonstrate the establishment’s liability, increasing your chances of getting a fair settlement.
Don’t Let Your Burn Claim Go up in Smoke — Call Our Daytona Beach Personal Injury Lawyers
Whether you sustained burns in a restaurant or a drive-thru, we’re here to represent you while you recover. Call us now for your free case evaluation to ensure the best possible outcome.