13 Sep

3 Noteworthy Personal Injury Lawsuits & Their Outcomes

In the News

noteworthy personal injury lawsuits

In the American justice system, if you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you have the legal right to sue for monetary compensation (as long as you are still within the statute of limitations).

Many people with “minor” injuries do not take legal action, either because they think it will be too much hassle or too expensive to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit, or because they don’t think that they have a chance of winning. However, most personal injury attorneys don’t charge any fees until they win, and history shows that even the strangest injustices can be righted. People who sustained injuries that, on the surface, would not seem to warrant any compensation have recovered millions of dollars in damages!

If you have been injured in an accident, the following noteworthy personal injury lawsuits prove that it is worth consulting with a personal injury attorney to find out what your case may be worth!

Liebeck v. McDonalds

This case is perhaps one of the most famous of the noteworthy personal injury lawsuits on this list – you may know it better as the time that a woman spilled hot coffee on herself and was awarded $3 million. On the surface, this may seem like a frivolous lawsuit filed by a greedy plaintiff, but the facts of the case reveal a much different story.

In 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, bought a hot coffee at a McDonalds drive-through. As she was parked and getting ready to add cream and sugar to her drink, the cup tipped over, and the coffee spilled on her lap. Because the McDonald’s operations manual required the coffee to be between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit when served, and because Ms. Liebeck was wearing sweatpants that absorbed the coffee, she suffered third-degree burns to her legs and groin within seconds. She was hospitalized for 8 days, required skin grafts, and took two years to heal from the incident. Ms. Liebeck filed a lawsuit; initially, she offered to settle for $20,000 to cover her medical expenses, but McDonalds refused to pay her more than $800, so the case ended up at trial in front of a jury. Because during the trial it was revealed that McDonalds had received over 700 reports of injury from its coffee and had failed to correct the problem, the jury awarded her $160,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages (which are damages designed to punish the defendant and set an example – in this case, to hold McDonalds accountable). This punitive amount was reduced by a judge to $480,000, and the parties then entered into a confidential settlement agreement.

Holland v. Schwan’s Home Services, Inc.

Larry. W Holland injured his back at work when he slipped on ice while unloading goods into a freezer. His doctor cleared him to return to his job – as a facility supervisor for Schwan’s Home Service Inc. – but conditionally. He was not to stand for long periods of time or do heavy lifting. However, his employer did not change his job description. His back injury predictably worsened, and his doctor instructed him to stop work for one month and go to physical therapy. Schwan’s terminated his employment. He sued, and an Illinois jury awarded him $4,260,000 in compensatory and punitive damages (punitive being $3.6 million).

Bigbee v. Pacific Tel. & Tel. Co

Another noteworthy personal injury lawsuit became so because President Ronald Reagan mentioned it when berating consumer protection laws – however, he didn’t have all the facts of the case. Charles Bigbee was a 33-year-old custodian in Los Angeles who stopped at a phone booth to make a call after his shift ended one day in 1974. That call would change his life forever – a drunk driver lost control of the car and plowed into the phone booth. He saw the car coming and would have exited the phone booth, but a faulty latch trapped him inside. His injuries were extensive and required amputation of his leg, and he suffered from depression for the rest of his life. Bigbee initially was able to collect $25,000 from the driver’s insurer, but then he filed a lawsuit against the phone booth company. Because the phone booth was situated between a busy road and a liquor store, it was in a dangerous place; the phone company knew this because a similar accident had taken place 20 years earlier, and they had erected the same faulty booth in the same spot despite the apparent risks. His initial lawsuit was dismissed, but the California Supreme Court reversed that decision, and Mr. Bigbee settled for an undisclosed amount in 1986 with the phone company.

When your injuries were someone else’s fault, no matter how strange your case may seem or how high the odds against you may be, the right attorney can fight aggressively and relentlessly for the full amount you deserve! The Florida Law Group has recovered over $1 billion for injured accident victims around the state, and we have 11 office locations in order to make quality representation accessible for all. We offer free consultations so you can discuss your situation with us and learn how our personal injury attorneys can help! Call today.