Twenty years after a jury awarded a landmark $2.9 million to a woman who was badly burned by hot McDonald’s coffee in Albuquerque, a Los Angeles woman has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Golden Arches saying she suffered burn injuries after hot coffee spilled on her at one of the fast food chain’s restaurants.
In the New Mexico case, the award was reduced to $640,000 and the case was later settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. That case also drew national and international attention from critics who called it a “frivolous” lawsuit although the woman suffered third-degree burns and had to undergo skin graft surgery. The case is still cited by advocates for tort reform.
Product Liability Lawsuit Alleges Negligence
The new case filed by Paulette Carr states that she was injured Jan. 12, 2012 after ordering coffee at the drive-through window of a McDonald’s on Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys. She is seeking unspecified monetary damages in the lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. In the lawsuit, Carr alleged that the lid for the hot coffee was “negligently, carelessly and improperly placed on the coffee cup.” The lid came off the top at the window and the hot coffee spilled on Carr, the complaint states. The lawsuit does not describe the nature or severity of Carr’s injuries.
What is Negligence?
In almost all injury cases, we try to determine if the defendant was negligent in causing the plaintiff’s injuries. Negligence is defined as conduct that falls below the standards of behavior established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances.
In order to establish negligence, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, the defendant breached that duty by failing to conform to the required standard of conduct, that the defendant’s negligent conduct caused injury or harm to the plaintiff and that the plaintiff did in fact suffer damages.
Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Injured victims can seek compensation for product liability damages including medical expenses, lost wages, cost of hospitalization, permanent injuries such as scarring or disfigurement, disabilities, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Injured victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who will remain on their side, fight for their rights and ensure that they receive justice and fair compensation for all their losses.