We’ve all heard the story of the woman who sued McDonald’s after her coffee spilled and burned her legs. Many news sources and comedians joked about the story, essentially shaming the woman for taking McDonald’s to court.
The worst part is that most of these people likely didn’t do their homework. They heard about a woman suing over spilling coffee on herself and immediately found the story ridiculous and frivolous.
If you are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit related to a product or premises liability, it’s important to understand that you may end up facing similar ridicule due to a lack of true understanding. This should in no way stop you from fighting for the compensation you deserve, but you need to know the public perception that you may be up against in addition to your battle against those who caused your injury.
The best way to help you prepare? Learning more about people who have endured public ridicule and why they were right to keep fighting despite this.
The Real Stories behind Two Ridiculed Personal Injury Cases
Stella Liebeck and McDonald’s very hot coffee. Was it silly for Ms. Liebeck to sue over spilled coffee? Before you answer, listen to the facts. Even though she was wearing sweat pants when she spilled the coffee on her legs, Ms. Liebeck still suffered from third-degree burns and needed multiple skin grafts. Because the coffee was that hot.
Moreover, Liebeck wasn’t trying to get rich. Originally, she only asked for $20,000 to cover medical expenses and lost income. It was only after McDonald’s refused her initial claim and her case was heard in court that she ended up winning almost $3 million.
Woman falls off donkey statue, sues. Poor Kimberly Bonn. First she fell off of a popular attraction at a Southland restaurant and got injured. Then, after she decided to sue the restaurant for the lack of safety features around the attraction, fans of the restaurant on social media ridiculed her and offered support for the restaurant.
They even went so far as to create a “For the Donkey” Facebook page that gained over 2,000 likes and claims to be “kicking back” at Bonn by asking for donations to be sent to the restaurant while the lawsuit is taking place. The Facebook page is even selling t-shirts.
Here’s the thing, though. The “attraction” that she fell from is a large burro statue that the restaurant encourages guests to climb on so they can take pictures. The El Jalisco donkey is quite popular with guests. Despite this, there are no safety features present. Additionally, Bonn didn’t just suffer a minor injury when she fell – she broke her back.
From all of this and the associated outrage directed at her, you might assume that Bonn asked for hundreds of thousands in compensation – or even millions. Not exactly. Her lawsuit is only for $15,000 to cover her damages. Does that seem like too much to ask for after having to deal with a broken back?
When Involved in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit, You Have to Stay Strong
While some Floridians are laughing at Bonn’s lawsuit, they probably wouldn’t laugh after breaking their backs. If you are involved in a similar slip and fall lawsuit, especially one against a beloved restaurant or well-known store, know you may face backlash.
When people see only a headline that mentions a slip and fall lawsuit, or see an “attack” on their favorite restaurant, they may jump to conclusions. They could even take their grievances to social media. Many people simply do not realize the serious injuries that can be sustained from a “simple” slip and fall, and they aren’t interested in taking the time to learn.
Do not let the public’s opinion of your case affect your decision to get the compensation you need for your injuries. Before filing, contact a Florida personal injury lawyer and discuss how to respond to people who think your lawsuit is “frivolous.”
If you have the evidence to prove that the store or establishment was being negligent, there is no need to be embarrassed or ridiculed over your lawsuit. Stories like Kimberly Bonn’s or Stella Liebeck’s serve as examples to those who have been injured so that they may hold the people (or businesses) responsible accountable for providing an unsafe environment.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.