Remember the woman who sued McDonald’s for burns after accidentally spilling hot coffee on her lap?

The Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurant case from 1992 is famous enough to have it’s own Wikipedia page. Many deemed the lawsuit frivolous, yet Ms. Liebeck suffered third-degree burns and was awarded due compensation.


Ms. Liebeck’s attorneys presented evidence at trial that McDonald’s served their coffee at 180º Fahrenheit, too hot to be consumed at the time of ordering, and overall, unreasonably hot when many of their competitors served their coffee closer to 140º. In addition, there had been approximately 700 previous complaints reported to McDonald’s where individuals were burned to varying degrees in the ten years leading up to the Liebeck case. However, McDonald’s did not feel these complaints were a substantial concern and chose not to modify their coffee’s temperature.

Ultimately, McDonald’s was found to be negligent for serving the beverage at a temperature well above the recommended level and that their conduct was egregious enough, that punitive damages (damages awarded to punish the wrongdoer) were also assessed.

With a burn injury lawsuit, the plaintiff (victim) typically holds the burden of showing a defendant somehow acted negligently in causing their injuries. Had McDonald’s chosen to serve their coffee at a more reasonable temperature when Ms. Liebeck spilled it on herself, McDonald’s may very well not have been found to be negligent at all.

What is negligence?

Negligence is defined as the departure from the conduct expected of a reasonable, prudent person under similar circumstances. This definition applies to individuals as well as business entities.

Establishing negligence is not always easy. But when you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, you shouldn’t feel uneasy about choosing assistance and pursuing your rights. The Silkman Law Firm Injury & Accident Lawyer has the experience to handle the stressful investigations and legal proceedings so you can focus on recovery.

Compensation for Burn Injuries

When an individual is severely burned as the result of another’s negligence, they can be entitled to compensation for medical bills, nursing care, lost wages, loss of capacity to work, pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of companionship, and mental anguish.

With modern medicine, more burn victims survive their injuries. Yet, burns can leave unsightly scars, and often require multiple surgery treatments. Often not only is the patient’s life physically affected, but their mental and emotional well-being are as well.

Don’t let your case be mishandled.

We’ll work diligently on your behalf. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or death of a loved one, we will pursue justice.

Contact us or call Silkman Law Firm Injury & Accident Lawyer at 602-535-5899 for your free case evaluation.

Author: Alex Silkman
author alex silkman

Alex Silkman is the founder and managing member of Silkman Law Firm Injury & Accident Lawyer. He focuses exclusively on personal injury and wrongful death cases, with the goal of getting truly just results for accident victims and their families.