Injury and McDonald’s coffee, the facts.
By: Renee Dial
All too often I end up having a conversation with someone that claims personal injury claimants and their attorneys are what’s wrong with our country. I typically listen while they vent about slip and fall accidents and that all people claiming personal injury are exaggerating or lying about their personal injuries and pain and without fail we end up talking about the McDonald’s coffee case.
The McDonalds coffee case is one of those cases that a person that hates attorneys can really get behind, it has the ridiculousness of someone spilling coffee on themselves while driving and getting millions of dollars from suing because of hot coffee. Read More What part of coffee being hot don’t you understand! “The lawsuit comes 20 years after a jury awarded $2.9 million to a woman who was badly burned after she spilled hot coffee into her lap at a McDonald’s in Albuquerque. That verdict was widely criticized and became a rallying cry for advocates of legal reform.”
News organizations like the one above were demonizing the woman and our court system. How can a person sue for spilling hot coffee on themselves and get millions? One of the first facts is that, the family sent McDonald’s a letter requesting that they lower the temperature and pay the medical bills resulting from the injuries. McDonald’s responded with an offer of $800.00.
Nearly everyone I spoke with believes that she went through a drive thru, ordered and received hot coffee, was driving down the road, and burned herself. Even politicians jumped on the bandwagon for tort reform touting that a woman complains of hot coffee and gets $2.9 million dollars. As if she had won the personal injury lottery.
The facts were that she was not driving, she was in the passenger seat with her grandson in the driver’s seat, and they were parked. She was preparing her coffee when the hot coffee spilled in her lap and pooled on the seat underneath her. Does not sound too bad so far. The coffee was so hot that she received third degree burns over 6% of her body. According to healthline.com “Third-degree burns are the worst burns. They cause the most damage, extending through every layer of skin. The damage can even reach the bloodstream, major organs, and bones, which can lead to death.” Yes, the coffee was that hot! What is worse is that McDonalds knew that the coffee was that hot as they had over 700 complaints. The burns were so bad that she ended up having skin grafts to close the wounds caused by the coffee.
Who would make coffee so hot that it literally would melt your skin? McDonalds that is who. The way the jury arrived at the $2.9 million dollar verdict was awarding two days worth of coffee sales to punish McDonalds. By punishing McDonalds the hope is to get them to correct the behavior and not injure anyone else. Unfortunately, the judge reduced the award to $640,000.
I then typically ask the person how much money would they accept if I could pour hot liquid on their groin and melt their skin. Of course the response is always a resounding no! How much would you accept for a back injury and having to live the rest of your life in pain and more than likely require back surgery from an auto collision. Of course that response is no as well. The person that received the personal injury had that decision forced on them and would like nothing more than to be healthy and back to where they were before the collision. Of course no one would want their grandmother to receive third degree burns requiring skin grafts because of a company’s intentional acts. How much is your pain and personal injury worth?
If you are ever involved in an auto accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, or hit by car walking down the road call Renee Dial at DKN Legal for a free consultation. (321) 329-5449 DKN Legal, PLLC “Your Community Your Attorneys”
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