Personal injury resulting from a spill of hot coffee, tea, soup, or other hot liquid food item is a unique type of injury that requires specific knowledge about burns. In our personal injury practice, we have seen many types of burn cases caused by negligent employees of fast food restaurants and gas stations.
Causes of burns
Persons injured by hot beverages or food items usually complain either that the person serving them the food did not properly secure the container, causing the hot liquid to spill out onto the person expectantly or that the hot liquid was unreasonably hot, causing a much more severe burn than it should have caused.
Many people know about the McDonald’s case in which the jury awarded the plaintiff $2.7 million in punitive damages. The woman suing McDonald’s ordered a hot coffee through the drive-thru and actually spilled the coffee onto her lap after she left the drive-thru area of the restaurant. Her attorney argued that McDonald’s kept its coffee too hot and although it was his client’s own fault that the coffee spilled, her injuries were more severe than they would have been if the beverage was a reasonable temperature.
The unique nature of burn injuries is that at first when the skin is burned, it may not appear to be serious because it takes 24 to 48 hours for the burn to declare itself on the skin. This means that when a person is burned, initially their skin will appear pink and slightly discolored but after several hours pass, the skin begins to blister, redden, and peel. Another interesting attribute to a burn injury is that a second degree burn is excruciating painful while a third degree burn, which is more serious in nature, will not hurt because the skin loses sensitivity when burned deep enough.
Both second and third degree burns can leave permanent scars and discolor the skin. Many times there is nothing a person can do to reverse the effect of a burn.
The medical industry has started to classify burns as partial thickness and full thickness rather than first degree, second degree, and third degree. Therefore, the medical records will differ in description of the injury depending on which physician is recording the injury.
If you have been injured as a result of hot liquid spill, you should seek medical attention immediately. It is important that your injury is recorded, and you are given proper medication and care instructions. You should keep the container in which your hot liquid food or drink was served to you and find out if a surveillance video is available of the incident.
Speaking to a qualified and knowledgeable personal injury attorney is important and should be done as soon as possible so that any evidence can be properly preserved. We have worked with clients that have suffered injuries from burns and can speak to you about your case. Call us today to schedule an appointment with Attorney Louiza Tarassova at 1-855-55-GO-LEGAL.