Florida Injury Blog


The Perazzo Law Firm 

The Miami Personal Injury Lawyer, Jonathan Perazzo, founder at the Perazzo Law Firm shares insight for dealing with accidents and injuries caused by hot liquids.

  • Did an employee spill hot coffee on you and cause injuries?
  • Were you burned by hot tea or coffee at a take-out store?
  • Are burns from liquids dangerous?
  • Are burns considered permanent injuries?
  • Hot do personal injury lawyers handle accidents that involve burns from hot liquids?

Ever since the famous McDonald’s hot coffee incident in 1994, fast food outlets selling hot drinks have added disclaimers aimed at warning consumers that the contents within the container they are receiving is very hot and can cause injury such as burns if spilled. Nevertheless, this does not free employees from making sure the lid the atop a hot beverage container is properly placed.

There are many in which customers accidently spill hot coffee or tea on themselves and suffer injuries such as burns. One such case occurred at a local Dunkin Donuts, where a male customer spilled hot coffee on his lap, which caused injury to his testicles. The man files suit against Dunkin Donuts claiming that the employees were negligent in the way they handled the cup of hot coffee, which the accident victims was not handed to him properly and the lid was not secured. His injuries entailed costly medical treatment which the man’s attorney claims that Dunkin Donuts is liable for. Furthermore, the accident victim’s attorney explains that the burns to his client’s groin area are permanent and will cause his clients emotional damage given that his testicles and penis will bear remnants of the accidents through scarring.

Another such case involves Starbucks and a customer that suffered second-degree burns throughout his body after spilling his cup of tea. In this case, the victim alleges that lid was not placed properly on the cup and thus the hot tea spilled all over his hands, arms, and lap. As a result of the burning incident, he was unable to play the piano or have sex without experiencing pain and awkwardness.

Many restaurant operators feel that store employees should refrain from placing lids on hot beverage containers. But rather, allow the customer to place the lid on the hot beverage themselves. The Perazzo Law Firm feels that containers such as cups, should always bear a precautionary label to warn customers that the contents are hot and that they should handle the container with car, especially when transporting the hot beverage and even when taking sips. Another useful practice that can be implemented is for coffee makers to limit the temperature at which the beverage is served and keep it at a temperature that will not cause injury or burns if spilled.

How to prevent burns from spilling hot liquids:

  • Remember that the contents are hot
  • Do not let children handle hot beverages
  • Do not place hot beverage containers on the dashboard of your vehicle
  • Do not place hot beverage containers on your lap
  • Do not walk while sipping on a hot beverage
  • Grab hold of hot beverages with two hands if possible
  • Make sure the lid of the hot beverage is secured before grabbing hold of it
  • Do not squeeze paper or plastic cups cause this may cause the lid to pop off
  • Do not expect to win a lawsuit if you spill hot or tea on yourself, it might be your own fault
  • Only contact a personal injury lawyer if you feel there was true negligence on behalf of an employee or business operator

WOMAN SUES MCDONALD’S (The Coffee Story of 1994) 

At a McDonalds in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1992, a 79-year-old woman named Stella Liebeck was driven to McDonald’s by her grandson. While parked, she spilled the hot coffee McDonald’s had served her in a cup with a lid on it. Having admitted that the accident was indeed her fault she proceeded to file suit with a personal injury lawyer on the grounds that the coffee was almost at its boiling point. Furthermore, when the extremely hot coffee spilled on her lap, it caused third-degree burns and medical treatment consisted of multiple surgical interventions to her groin and genital areas.

It’s treated as a classic example of judicial overreach and greed: A woman, driving in her car while holding McDonald’s coffee between her legs, spills some of the coffee on herself. Inflicted with some minor burns, she sues McDonald’s, as if she shouldn’t have known that coffee is hot and driving with it in your hand or legs is dangerous. And then she ultimately wins millions of dollars from the fast food chain — becoming rich due to a dumb mistake that was all on her. Another known fact that offered grounds to her claim was that she almost died during surgery to treat her burns. At first, Ms. Liebeck was not looking to got to trial but rather preferred to settle out of court for the medical bills she owed to treat her injuries. Her initial settlement request was for $20,000, however, McDonald’s wanted to settle at $800. This prompted Ms. Liebeck to file a lawsuit in 1994.

The case went to trial and the jury agreed that the fast food giant acted negligently and with total disregard for her well-being. In the end, Ms. Liebeck received just under $600.000 of the $2.9 million suggested by the jury.

Ever since then, McDonald’s stopped serving coffee so hot and placed a label on their cups to warm consumers that the beverages inside the cup were very hot!!

If you, a friend, relative, or loved-one has suffered personal injury as a of the negligence of a fast food or convenience store employee or operated, contact the Miami personal injury lawyers at the Perazzo Law Firm for a FREE initial consultation and ZERO OUT-OF-POCKET FEES until your case is settled.



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