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Learn how hot coffee became the subject of the most famous personal injury lawsuit.

In United States, everyday hundreds of personal injury litigations are fought, but not all get national attention. There only a few in which multi-million settlements are made. Media attention is caught only when some run of the mill case is given a landmark judgment.  For example- The most famous case of recent times has been the Mc Donalds coffee spill case. In which the entire world was questioning the American legal system's soundness. 

The real story is not as amusing as it has been made. On 27 February 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79 year old woman ordered coffee for herself at a Mc Donalds drive thru in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Stella was in the passenger seat while her grandson Chris, who was driving the car, had parked it, so that she could get sugar and cream put in her coffee.  She had put her coffee in between her legs and pulled its lid off, spilling the scorching coffee on her self.  Liebeck was immediately rushed to the hospital. She had suffered third degree burns on her thighs, buttocks and genitals and had to undergo several skin grafting operations. She remained in agonizing pain for several months and it took her two years to fully recover. Her daughter had to step down from her work in order to take care of her.

Liebeck made many attempts to settle claims with Mc Donalds but her family got really furious when she was offered just $800 by Mc Donalds, which was not even half her medical expense. So they hired a very famous Texas personal injury lawyer, Reed Morgan. The personal injury lawyer argued that that the coffee served by Mc Donald's was "dangerously hot" at 180˚F and caused critical third degree burns. Mc Donald's lawyers defended it by saying that people who availed their services at the drive-thru wanted to drink their coffee over the trip and hence, they kept it really hot so that it lasted longer.
The litigation continued for seven days and a twelve member jury sat over it. Mc Donalds was found 80% responsible for the pain and suffering caused to the plaintiff.  Ms Stella Liebeck was found 20% responsible for her own burns for not being extra careful.

Mc Donalds had to pay compensation for:-
• For not adequately forewarning the plaintiff of the imminent danger.
• Causing third degree burns on the plaintiff.
• For ignoring numerous complaints of burns caused to customers including children and infants.
• Punitive damages were also given in order to deter them from behaving in such a negligent fashion again.

The jury awarded Ms Liebeck $ 160,000 as compensatory damages and $ 480,000 as punitive damages and described Mc Donalds behavior as “willful and reckless”. The settlement amount was confidential.

As a result, Mc Donalds has lowered their coffee temperature and one also finds a written warning forewarning the user of the warm content.

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Articles about Personal Injury Law

All about Head Injury Lawsuits in USA.
Head injury is a trauma to the head that may include injury to the brain and other parts of the head, such as scalp and skull. Head injury includes traumatic brain injury (TBI). These injuries can be life altering causing severe intellectual impairment, physical...  more

All you want to know about Chicago personal injury lawyer and accident injury claims
Personal Injuries can take place at any time and at any place in Chicago. You could be at your work place, at home, or even out in a shopping mall. There is no telling where or how a personal injury may happen, or who may be at fault. In order to properly...  more
Useful Tips
How am I covered under law for personal injury?
There are many provisions in law that help you seek compensation for personal injury. There are different laws governing different types of personal injuries, so you must categorize the nature of personal injury, in which State it occured, How bad the injury was and who was the injured party and the responsible party. A good personal injury lawyer will tell you the different types of personal injury could be auto accidents, train accidents, swimming accidents, slip and fall accidents, defamation, professional malpractise and injury due to defective products. Each of these types of injury are covered by law and one can seek compensation. If you intend to file a claim for damages or compensation, we suggest you to hire a good personal injury lawyer.

What damages can a person file for in a wrongful death claim?
A good personal injury lawyer will tell you that the following damages can be claimed in a wrongful death claim - Medical & funeral expenses, loss of future earnings, Loss of pension and medical cover, Pain and suffering of the survivors, Loss of care and protection, loss of companionship to the survivors and general and punitive damages. Most states have their own laws related to wrongful death claims. If you intend to file a claim for damages or compensation, we suggest you to hire a good personal injury lawyer.

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