Hot Coffee… how personal injury impacts your everyday life

Every once and a while a lawsuit will make national headlines. That was the case with Liebeck v. McDonald’s, more commonly known as the hot coffee lawsuit. In 1992 Liebeck was at a drive through McDonald’s and ordered a coffee. While pulling the cap off to add sugar, she accidentally spilled the cup of coffee all over her lap. Liebeck suffered second and third degree burns and was hospitalized for 10 days and then had two years of continuing medical care. Liebeck contended that the coffee was unreasonably hot (190 degrees) for anyone to safely consume and therefore constituted gross negligence on the part of McDonald’s. So what happened with the case, why is it famous, and how does it relate to you?

In the days leading up to trial McDonald’s refused settlements for various amounts between $90,000 and $225,000. After a  jury trial, Liebeck was awarded $2.86 million in compensation. After appeals were filed the parties settled for an undisclosed amount, but not before the story made national headlines. The case brought into view something called frivolous lawsuits. A frivolous lawsuit is a lawsuit that lacks legal merit but is carried out anyway. Much of the time these are filed against large corporations and are used to try and gain settlement money to make the case go away. Though the injuries sustained by Liebeck were extreme, the media focused on the fact that she spilled the coffee on herself and as such McDonald’s should not be held liable.

Liebeck V. McDonald’s set a precedent for hot coffee lawsuits and they are filed against major chains every year. Though some do fit the criteria to be frivolous, several do end up coming to fruition. Just last week Starbucks settled a hot coffee law suit for $100,000. So what does all this hot coffee business mean to you? Well this is just one example of the kind of personal injury law that the lawyers at Franklin D. Azar & Associates are able to handle. If you believe you have been injured because of the negligence of another party call today for a free consultation and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.