After The McDonald's Verdict, Can You Still Sue For Restaurant Burns?

In Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants, a plaintiff who suffered severe third-degree burns after spilling hot coffee on her lap in a drive-thru received a monetary judgment of more than $600,000. While some point to this case as the primary example of the types of frivolous lawsuits that may justify tort reform laws, others beseech readers to look beyond the headlines into the facts of this case that render the plaintiff more than worthy of a substantial monetary judgment. 

If you've recently suffered severe burns at a restaurant, you may be wondering about your legal options going forward. Read on to learn more about how the Liebeck case applies in today's legal world:

Can you still sue for burns caused by a restaurant's hot food or drink? 

In the Liebeck case, the jury's verdict in favor of the plaintiff was affirmed, even though the plaintiff herself was the one deemed "responsible" for spilling the hot coffee on her lap. Because this coffee was brewed and served at a dangerously high temperature, causing burns that required 8 full days of hospitalization and numerous skin grafts, the jury found that it was technically a "defective" product, permitting fault to be assessed against McDonald's on a product liability basis. 

While many state laws have changed since (and in response to) this verdict, there are a number of situations in which you may have a viable legal claim after being burned by a restaurant. 

If your burns were caused by a visibly apparent dangerous condition you knew or should have known of, you may not be able to prove the restaurant is responsible for your injuries. For example, if your food was served on a sizzling platter and the waiter informed you that the plate was hot before setting it down on the table, touching the plate and burning yourself is likely to be viewed as the type of foreseeable consequence the restaurant is not responsible for preventing. 

On the other hand, a plate or utensil that has inadvertently been heated to ultra-high temperatures in a way that isn't apparent (or expected) could be the basis for liability if you have a strong argument that you could not have anticipated this danger. 

What are your options if you've been literally burned by a business?

If you're wondering whether you have the basis for a personal injury lawsuit against the restaurant responsible for your injuries, you'll want to consult an attorney. All states have statutes of limitations that govern the amount of time in which you have to sue, so getting this process started early can provide you with the greatest opportunity for success if you do have a viable claim. 

Contact a law office like Salley Law Firm PA for more information and assistance.