Scalding Personal Injury Lawsuit
Hot liquid injuries, known as scald injuries in the medical world, happen far too often. The landmark legal case for scald injuries was the 1994 personal injury lawsuit where a 79-year old woman sued McDonald’s, after she was severely burned by a cup of their coffee; she was awarded a large punitive award ($2.9 million), mostly because of McDonald’s callous attitude towards her injuries (the award was reduced by the trial judge). She had offered to settle for $20,000 (covering medical expenses and lost wages), McDonald’s offered $800. It bears noting that in 1994, $2.9 million was about two days of coffee revenue for McDonalds.
Even after this case, which instituted the practice of printing warnings on coffee cups, scald injuries occur with unfortunate frequency. The Center for Disease Control reports that 1.1 million people are treated for burn injuries annually; of burns requiring hospitalization, 38-58% are caused by hot liquids or steam. Most scalding happens at home—more than three-quarters of the total number of reported cases—and two-thirds of scald victims are women. People age 65 and older are at increased risk for burns, accounting for almost 9000 annual emergency room visits for scalding. Hot coffee accounts for 15% of all nonfatal scald injuries suffered by people age 65 and older.
Hot food or beverages are the leading causes for scald injuries, responsible for 42%, followed by steam and hot water burns (30%). Burns from hot coffee are unnecessary injuries, often caused by negligence on the part of restaurant owners. Food in restaurants must be kept at temperatures starting at 140° Fahrenheit, to prevent bacteria growth. However, liquids don’t need to be kept this hot; 100° kills liquid-borne bacteria. Liquids kept at 140° Farenheit can cause burns requiring skin graft surgery in five seconds. And many establishments keep their coffee at even higher temperatures, seriously increasing the risk of scalding. Severe burns are practically instantaneous at 160° F. In the McDonald’s case, the coffee was kept at 180-190° F, which results in instantaneous burning, even after waiting a reasonable length of time for cooling. Although many restaurants and fast food franchises print warnings on their cups, not every one does, and in restaurants where you’re simply served coffee in a mug, there’s no way of telling how hot the beverage is.
If you or someone you care for has suffered an injury as a result of negligence, you have options. Contact Mike Agruss Law, at 312-224-4695 for a free consultation. We are a Chicago injury law firm representing individuals and families who have suffered an injury or loss due to an accident. Mike Agruss Law, will handle your personal injury case quickly, will advise you every step of the way, and will not hesitate to go to trial for you.
Lastly, Mike Agruss Law, does not get paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. Therefore, you have nothing to risk when you hire us–just the opportunity to seek justice.