As anyone who has suffered serious injury knows, it is not easy and there are a lot of things to consider to move your life forward. Sometimes, despite being injured, we see people put medical treatment on the back burner, stress about medical bills, struggle to take off work, or not going for treatment altogether. We’re here to talk about why treatment is so important not only for your health and recovery, but why it is critical to your personal injury claim.
After you’ve been injured, it’s important to seek medical care right away. Especially if you did not go to the emergency room or get immediate medical attention on the scene, do not wait days, weeks, or months to go for your first appointment after your injury. A large gap in time between the accident and seeking treatment can incorrectly lead the insurance company to think your injuries are not serious or that your claim lacks credibility. They could low-ball the amount they offer for your claim, or even deny compensation altogether.
In addition to medical records, things like treatment plans, test results, hospital bills and any other documentation related to your treatment can help build a stronger claim. This is factual evidence to support the severity of your injuries and justify any long-term and ongoing medical treatment. Medical records can also help quantify financial losses, such as lost wages or out-of-pocket expenses one is likely to incur after a serious injury.
Medical records also serve as proof of consistent medical care which validate the severity of your injuries. These medical records are also essential for down the road should you decide to apply for Social Security disability benefits.
Though we encourage you to seek competent treatment of any kind following an accident or injury, the type of treatment you receive can matter in a personal injury claim. For example, an insurance company may give more weight or consideration to a claim with extensive specialist treatment over treatment with an alternative or holistic therapy provider. We know this might not always be possible given your finances or the availability of specialists in your area. However, we encourage you to seek treatment with a physician best suited to treat your injuries.
It’s also important you are comfortable with the physician treating your injuries. Make sure you are detailed in describing your pain and limitations, so the doctor can provide thorough documentation in your records and potentially be a strong ally in your personal injury claim.
If you feel it is too difficult to get appointments, or you feel your physician isn’t listening to you or acknowledging what you are saying, seek a second opinion! You want to be on the path to getting better and getting your life back, while also maximizing the amount rightfully owed to you in a personal injury claim. Thus, you want to treat with a physician who is very much on your side.
Much like choosing the right physician, we encourage you to seek the appropriate personal injury lawyer to help you win your claim. We are here and available 24/7 at 713-888-9000 to provide a free and confidential consultation to get your case started. There are no fees until we win; and we are on your side every step of the way.
It has been nearly 30 years since the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit went to court, but interest in the case remains high. People around the world dismissed the lawsuit as “frivolous” and a prime example of runaway juries. A look at the facts of the case, however, tell a different story.
Despite what most people think, plaintiff Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old grandmother, was not driving when the coffee spilled. She was a passenger in her grandson’s car. As the car was parked, she tried to hold the cup securely between her knees while removing the plastic lid. However, the drink tipped over, spilling scalding hot coffee all over her lap, according to the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.
Here is some of the evidence presented to the jury:
It was company specification to sell their coffee at temperatures of 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
McDonald’s coffee, if spilled, causes full thickness burns (third-degree to the muscle/fatty tissue layer) in as little as two seconds. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an adult can suffer third-degree burns after being exposed to 150-degree water for two seconds.
Ms. Liebeck was hospitalized for eight days and had to undergo a variety of procedures including skin grafting and whirlpool treatment for debridement. She also suffered permanent scarring as a result of the burns, as well as disability for over two years.
From 1982 to 1992, there were more than 700 reported claims to McDonald’s of people suffering severe injuries from their hot coffee, including burns to the genital area, perineum, inner thighs, and buttocks. It was not only adults that were injured, but also infants and children.
Despite knowing the risk of harm, McDonald’s testified – through its own witnesses – that it did not intend to turn down the heat and it did nothing to warn consumers about the dangers.
A quality-control manager testified that not only were consumers unaware of the risk, but that consumers would not anticipate such severe burns if coffee was spilled.
At trial, the fast-food giant admitted that the drink was “not fit for consumption” as sold because of the scalding hot temperature and risk of injury to the consumer. The jury agreed, finding that the coffee was “unreasonably dangerous” and was sold in “breach of the implied warranty of fitness.”
McDonald’s initially refused to settle the case. Eventually, a jury would award the plaintiff $200,000 in compensatory damages (reduced by 20% as she was found to be partially at fault for her injuries) and $2.7 million in punitive damages.
Punitive damages were later reduced by a trial judge to $480,000; however, the parties agreed to a “post-verdict settlement.” The confidential agreement prevented further appeals, which could have taken years to resolve.
The Court refused to grant McDonald’s request for a new trial. The Judge found the chain’s conduct regarding the sale of scalding hot coffee and failure to warn customers about the risk of harm if spilled was callous. For ten years, McDonald’s had seen hundreds of reports of customers receiving third-degree burns after spilling coffee, but they did nothing. Injuries included burns to the “genital area, perineum, inner thighs, and buttocks.”
According to Ms. Liebeck’s treating physician, the 79-year-old’s burns were some of the worst scald burns he had ever seen.
News headlines often spin lawsuits as being frivolous or juries as runaway. However, every case has its own facts and evidence serving as the basis for how a specific verdict or settlement is reached. The judge and jury are presented with all of the evidence, testimony, and law in a case. They are the fact-finders and decision-makers after weighing all of the evidence — evidence and facts that are often not known to the public or reported in news headlines.
The McDonald’s hot coffee case involved far more than what most people realize. There are always two sides to a story and the McDonald’s jury heard both before reaching their verdict. And, ultimately, the case was instrumental in eventually changing how coffee is served, including improved lids, insulated sleeves, and safer temperatures for consumers.
Scott Callahan & Associates is proud to announce that founder and lead trial attorney Scott Callahan has been named to Texas Super Lawyers® for the 10th consecutive year. The honor is given only to the top 5% of attorneys in a state.
The experienced lawyers at Scott Callahan & Associates represent people and their families in serious injury and wrongful death cases. We have recovered millions in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients. Contact our office today for a free consultation.
Super Lawyers® is an attorney rating service that recognizes attorneys for their “high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.” In addition to naming a select list of “super lawyers” in each state, they identify rising stars. Rising star candidates must be under 40 years old or in practice for ten years or less.
Attorney Scott Callahan was first recognized by Texas Super Lawyers® as a Rising Star in 2011. Only 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state are named to the Rising Star list each year. Since receiving that initial honor, he has been selected as a Texas Super Lawyer every year.
The rigorous, patented selection process involves peer nomination, independent research, and peer evaluation. Independent research is based on the assessment of 12 indicators of professional achievement and peer recognition, including:
In addition to being recognized by Texas Super Lawyers® for over the past decade, Mr. Callahan is also board-certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. For over 25 years, he has been helping injury victims throughout Texas and nationwide.
Mr. Callahan is honored to be a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum as well as a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College. He has dedicated his career to helping those who have suffered severe, catastrophic injuries due to negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing.
If you have been seriously injured, you need an experienced attorney who will give you the aggressive, ethical, and professional representation you deserve. At Scott Callahan & Associates, we believe that injury victims should be heard. Whether you were injured in a car accident, on the job, or by a defective product, our firm can help.
Contact our office at (713) 888-9000 or fill out our online contact form to speak with an attorney. Receive a free, confidential case evaluation to determine your legal options and your right to recover damages for your injuries. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to discuss your case. There are no fees unless we win. Call today.