Skip to main content

Suffered second degree burns to fingertips after waitress handed me a hot plate, do I have a case?

Westerville, OH |

I suffered second degree burns to three of my fingertips 1 year and seven months ago after a waitress handed me a hot plate. Since then I have suffered nerve damage to all three fingertips. Daily I suffer with pain, burning sensation, pins and needles sensation, sensitivity to hot and cold. My physician states that generally nerves will heal within the first year and half but she has seen cases where it has taken years to heal if they do at all. I have suffered with fibromyalgia for the last 7 years and this is just something to add on to my already chronic pain. Insurance wants to settle for $3000.00. I think it's a ridiculous amount of money for the changes of lifestyle, pain and suffering and depression I have had due to this. Am I wrong for believing this?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 8

Posted

That does sound low. Your email does not say whether or not you are represented by a lawyer. If you do not have one, you should retain one immediately and not try to negotiate this on your own, or the insurance company will take advantage of your inexperience. There also may be a statute of limitations about to run.

Retain Ohio counsel as soon as you can.

Asker

Posted

Thank you so much for your advice in this matter. I actually just now obtained an attorney in this matter. I tried doing the right thing and tried negotiating on my own. That did not go well. I just asked for what I thought would be a reasonable amount for the pain and suffering I have had to suffer and may have to suffer if it is permanent. Evidently the amount in which I was willing to settle for and in my opinion (a very low amount) was too much.

Posted

My information indicates you have 2 years from the date of incident in which to file a claim (law suit). It appears you have a legitimate personal injury especially if it interferes with the use of your hand permanently. Nerve damage can be permanent. Find a personal injury attorney and get a Complaint filed ASAP.

Legal disclaimer: I am not your attorney and we have no attorney/client relationship. This response is submitted for informational purposes only. This is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be taken as such. Anyone considering the above referenced response and should always consult directly with an attorney within your jurisdiction before taking any action based on this, or any other information. This information is provided without any cost and therefore is what it is worth. Again this information does not create any privileged attorney/client relationship and you are cautioned about information you convey to any person in a public forum.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your advice! My whole concern is that it may be permanent. Why is it fair that someone should have to suffer for harm caused by another? I feel that it isn't fair at all. People should and need to be held liable for their actions. If it were myself causing harm or injury then I would hold myself accountable.

Posted

I would address this matter with an experienced PI attorney in your area. He/she can deal with the issues related to the pre-existing fibromyalgia, and the impact of that condition on your particular injuries. IN cases such as this, the ins. co. is not your firend, and you probably need an advocate dedicated to assisting injured people like you.

Good luck!

Disclaimer- The information you obtain at our web-site or through postings on such sites as this is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Any response given here is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.

Asker

Posted

I appreciate your advice! As I have sadly learned myself that insurance companies are definitely not your friends in matters such as these. They try to make you feel like your injury is not a big deal even though they are not the ones who suffer from it. Don't know how many times I've gotten off the phone with the insurance company just crying because I feel like they don't understand or even care. Sad world we live in when people do this on a daily basis for a living. Hurting others feelings.

Marc Sean Hurd

Marc Sean Hurd

Posted

It's the nature of the system/process. Ins. adjusters are evaluated on the bases of how many claims they can close, and for how little of the ins. co's money they had to spend to do it. In their defense, they are often faced with many claims that do not have a great deal of merit, and can get jaded by that, but the sad consequence of that is that they all too often take a skeptical, of not cynical, look at all claims, the just and suspicious alike. There may be some hurdles to address, like those presented by Mr. Kirner below, but (IMHO) the only real way to assess this matter is to have a competent PI attorney in your area review all the materials and advise accordingly. I wish you good luck and a speedy recovery.

Posted

The worst mistake a person can make is to try to settle a personal injury case without a lawyer. You are only being offered a nuisance settlement, which is to be expected without a lawyer.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer. www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com

Asker

Posted

I believe you are exactly right! A nuisance settlement is exactly what I feel I'm being offered. I'm honestly just tired of feeling like I am the one who is wrong in the situation. I did nothing wrong and yet it is I who is left to suffer. Thank you so much for your advice truly!

Posted

P.S. Search Avvo for a personal injury lawyer. Pick one you feel comfortable with and one with a low contingency fee.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer. www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com

Posted

Sorry about your loss. No, you are not wrong in believing that your case is worth more. There are things to consider in deciding whether to accept the offer. Amount of bills, future medical expenses and permanency are a few of the issues to worry about. There is not enough information regarding economic loss. Is this an initial offer? Adjusters routinely leave room to move up from an initial offer. See for yourself whether the adjustor is hoaxing by demanding a much higher amount to settle. Further, you need to consider whether obtaining a money recovery is something you want to truly pursue under the circumstances. Call an attorney to discuss the case in further detail.

Asker

Posted

Thank you very much for your advice and concern! This was actually the second offer I received as the first offer of $1000.00 was made right after the injury occurred. I chose to follow the advice of the first insurance claims rep and wait to see if it would heal. The offer of $3000.00 was made a few weeks ago after my physcian had discussed this could be a permanent injury. She stated that it could take years for it to get any better if any at all.

Walter William Messenger Jr.

Walter William Messenger Jr.

Posted

Is this in writing and will the doctor be helpful to you in the event of litigation? Again, lots of issues. If it is important to you that you be compensated more than $3,000, you need to call someone before the statute of limitations. I also echo one recommendation regarding fault. Not enough facts are revealed to even know whether you could establish liability against the restaurant.

Posted

If the restaurant was careless in handing you a hot plate without offering you and adequate warning, then you have a valid personal injury claim. You deserve to be compensated for your current and future pain and suffering, as well as your medical expenses such as doctor's visits and medication.

Only you can determine if the $3,000 offer from the insurance company is too low as to adequately compensate you for your injuries.

As the injury happened almost two years ago, it is important you retain counsel as soon as possible so that your 2 year statute of limitations does not lapse.

Asker

Posted

Thank you so much for the advice! Honestly she offered no warning at all, was completely ignoring me as she was talking to another co- worker and shoving the plate at my face. I just feel that insurance companies are not fair in handling their cases. Seems as if they try to make things seem not as bad as they are or offer other ridiculous reasons of why my fingers are hurting. Sadly trying to blame it on my fibromyalgia. When in fact for the last 6 years that I have suffered from fibromyalgia have never once had fingertip pain, burning etc. I hate to be one who sues over something like this however feel that someone should be held accountable.

Posted

I am going to go slightly the other way on this answer. While I am sorry for your injury and I hope you feel better, I certainly do not mean to attack the victim or be harsh in my answer. I also would recommend hiring an attorney, however there may be some liability issues here. For example was the plate steaming hot, was the server wearing some type of gloves or pot holder or pick it up with a towel, did the server issue a warning to you, etc. IF none of that happened, I ask how did you receive 2nd degree burns yet the server is just fine ?? Meaning that the server picked up a scalding hot plate with bare hands and sustained no injury however you were injured so severely. I am sorry, but it seems unlikely. If they handed it to you with pot holders or a towel and you then touched it, the blame may fall on you. Again, I am sorry to point fingers at you, but this is what the other side will be doing. I do not want you to see dollar signs in your future if none are there. That settlement offer may be low, but it may also be a "just go away figure." IF you hire an attorney, you will likely be giving him a 1/3 of the settlement or possibly 40%.

I do not have all of the facts here, of course but this does not look like a strong case to me. You may be better hiring an attorney and negotiating an agreement with the attorney that gives him maybe 0% of the first $3000 and 70% of everything over that. Or something creative like that. IF you hire an attorney at 1/3 contingency and he gets your offer up to $5,000 you would only see $3,350. IF a lawsuit needs to be filed YOU may have to pay filing fees and costs. IF a deposition goes forward YOU may need to pay the court reporter costs.

I agree hiring an attorney is wise. I agree you injuries are substantial. However you do have some liability issues and I do not think your case is strong. You will need to work out a creative agreement with counsel to define how much you gets and how much he gets. If you hire an attorney and they have to get the over up to $4,500 before you will see more then $3,000. That is $1,500 increase to there offer and with a standard contingency agreement you make nothing more, and that is settling without trial. I would imagine the % goes up if a lawsuit is filed or if the case has to be tried. Also if you go to trial you would likely need an expert to testify to your injury and that said injury was a result of this plate, that will cost you $1,500 at least.

Maybe I am looking at this the wrong way. Maybe there are some Consumer Sales Practice Acts I am unaware of. If you recall the lady who spilled the McDonalds coffee in her lap, while that was her fault, there is a law that requires a product such as coffee must be able to be consumed when it is purchased. The crux of that case was that the coffee was too hot to have been drunk and that is at least in part why she prevailed. You may have such a case here, but I doubt it. The plate was hot, not necessarily the food.

I would hire an experienced Personal injury attorney but as I see it with your liability issues I do not know if I see your dollar amount going substantially higher. You have to imagine if you take this to trial there will likely be a jury demand. Can you convince 8 persons that YOU were given no warning and no indication that the plate was hot ? Again, I do not think it is a strong case. Just make sure you get more then $3,000.00 end of the day or else you made a bad decision.

I wish you luck, and I hope you are on the mend quickly.

The above information is not, nor intend to be, legal advice. You SHOULD consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Based on this response no attorney-client relationship has been formed. If your matter is in Cuyahoga County or surrounding counties, we invite you to contact us. Please visit our website at www.kirnerandboldt.com. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information until such time and attorney-client relationship is formed. Attorneys in this firm are only licensed to practice in the state of Ohio and have no specific information as to the laws and rules of other states and none of the information provided is intended to be applied to the laws of other states.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your advice! I understand where you are coming from and did not completely tell the whole story of my case. The incident happened at a restaurant in which I have dined at for 18+ years. It was actually my favorite restaurant. On the day the incident occurred we had a total of 6 people dining with us. My husband, myself, our three children and a friend of my sons. We had ordered soups, drinks, fried wontons, for all of us. The waitress had not even cleared our table of any of the bowls, plates before bringing the entrees out. So needless to say our table was very packed and had little room for anything. I did not even know she was handing me a plate until my husband got my attention (I was talking to my children from the left) she had approached on the right. She Didnt say anything to me. My husband just said "honey" and I turned to a plate in my face like she was shoving it to me while she was talking to another co-worker. Firstly I thought "how rude" she didn't even approach the table with any manners. I grabbed a plate passing it down to the children, then another, then another as she is obviously just shoving each plate my way as if I'm not handing them out fast enough and she has no time to set them down on her own. She did not have an oven mitt on as I have never saw any of the workers wearing them. As she handed me plates she was holding them from the brim. When she handed me the plate I had to hold it with my left hand, and being right handed could not hold it from the brim because I'm not strong enough in my left hand to do so. So I grab the plate from underneath. I had been saying since the second plate that your going to have to clear some of the things from the table because we have no room. However she ignored as she continued talking to her co- worker. So by the time I grabbed the plate and held it from the bottom realized how hot it was and was expressing to everyone to clear the table I can't hold this plate. We all know that the best thing to do when we touch something hot is to remove ourselves from it. Well, with nowhere to set the plate on the table, no room at all and having to wait until your 3 young children are able to sit their plates on their lap move things around and such I was holding the plate for too long. This probably being the reason for the second degree burns. I'm not a medical expert but I could only imagine the longer you hold something hot, the more damage can be done. Trust me there was no way that this mother was going to just drop the hot plate with my children right there beside me and put them in harms way. Immediately after I was able to put the plate down I had to use the ice from my cup of water to try to relieve the pain. It was intense and I was being stared at by others in the restaurant. The ice in the water was not helping much with the pain so I got up and went to the front to advise the owner that the waitress handed me a hot plate and my fingers were burned so I needed ice. She gave me ice wrapped in a cloth napkin and that was it. A few minutes later the waitress came to my table and said im sorry you got burned. My feeling is that I suffer from severe fibromyalgia, there are only a few things in which fibromyalgia does not attack on my body. My fingers being one of them. Just don't understand why it is fair that I should have to suffer anymore than I already do.

Peter Stephen Kirner

Peter Stephen Kirner

Posted

I appreciate the feed back, and i understand your pain. I hope you understand I mean no disrespect from my answer, and I based on your response I do not thing you took it as such. That being said. Regardless of anything, I still suggest you retain counsel, somewhat quickly as the clock is running on the statue of limitations. Again, make sure that what ever agreement you enter into that you receive nothing less then $3,000. You will have to be creative on an agreement with counsel but there is clearly no point in hiring an attorney and seeing anything less then what you have already been offered. I wish you luck and I am sorry that this happened to you.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer