2 Landmark Cases in Personal Injury Law

The law, while it has its limitations, attempts to encompass every thinkable scenario there is; one of which is personal injury. This is a section of the law that concerns itself with injured individuals going to court to seek reparations and damages from the person or organization accused of doing them harm. Attorneys in Everett who specialize in personal injury law are either tasked to prove their clients’ claims, or defend their clients from these accusations.

With two sides of the equation, there’s bound to be a success story and a failed one in every court case. In the following examples, we take a look at some of the most notable, successful personal injury cases.

Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants

The year was 1992, and in Albuquerque, New Mexico a 72-year old woman named Stella Liebeck spilled McDonald’s coffee all over herself and incurred severe injuries in the form of third-degree burns due to how hot the coffee was. Two years later, The Hot Coffee Case received notoriety all over the media.

At the time, McDonald’s coffee was made at around 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit. This is 30 degrees hotter than coffee from a standard home brewer. This resulted in hundreds of people being burned after spilling the restaurant’s drink, even before it happened to Liebeck.

With the help of a lawyer, Liebeck tried to reach a settlement with the fast food chain in the amount of merely US$20,000 to cover the hospital fees. McDonald’s refused to settle, which led to the case being brought to court. The jury awarded Liebeck US$ 160,000 in reparations, and an additional US$ 2.7 million in punitive damages for the callous conduct displayed by Mc Donald’s.

In the end, the case became a catalyst for the fast food chain to change their coffee’s temperature, making it 10 degrees cooler than it was at the time of Liebeck’s accident.

Escola v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

Lawyer and client agreement concept

Landmark cases are court cases studied and reviewed because of their significance to the legal system. Oftentimes, these are cases that have set a precedent. Another example of a landmark case in the food and drinks industry was Gladys Escola’s suit against Coca-Cola.

During her time as a waitress, Escola was often put in charge of storing away Coca-Cola bottles for the establishment she was working for. An incident with a bottle filled with too much gas and pressure resulted in said bottle exploding, harming her in the process. She incurred a five-inch cut.

The remnants of the broken glass were never brought to court since a co-worker of Escola’s disposed of the glass shortly after the accident. A diagram was presented during trial, accompanied by testimonies from Escola’s employer who witnessed the event, as well as testimony from a driver with Coca-Cola who had seen other bottles from the company explode in the past.

Similar to the Liebeck case, the jury voted in favor of the Plaintiff, citing the defendant’s apparent neglect. However, it has since been brought up that the ruling should have been on the grounds of strict liability instead.

In most scenarios, personal injury cases aren’t always monumental. However, those that are show that the scales of justice can and will tip in favor of those who have suffered due to the negligence of others.

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