Burn Injury Liability in Restaurants

Posted on: January 8, 2020 by RMS Hospitality

In 1994, fast food giant McDonald’s found itself at the center of a major lawsuit stemming from something seemingly small: a really hot cup of coffee. The complaint arose from a customer who claimed they were severely burned from the temperature of a cup of coffee served to them at McDonald’s. However, the claimant was in fact injured from a scalding cup, opening the door to holding restaurants and cafes accountable for customer burn injuries.

For restaurants, this means that they have to not only be careful with the temperature at which they serve food and drinks but in how they cover themselves legally. From restaurant insurance to pay for potential settlements to posting disclaimers on lids, sleeves, and around a restaurant, these establishments need to take steps to be informed about being held liable for burn cases.

Keeping Customers Cool

There are a number of ways in which customers can be harmed at a restaurant including slipping and falling, food poisoning, and burning. Restaurant owners and managers are responsible for keeping the property safe for those who eat and drink there, as well as not causing direct injuries to those dining or drinking at their establishment. So, how can a restaurant be more careful when it comes to customer burns?

One way this can be done is by getting out ahead of this issue with the proper visuals. It’s important to post signs throughout the restaurant informing that the contents of plates and drinks are hot. Also, it’s important to have items like coffee cups and sleeves stamped with disclaimers explaining that contents inside are hot.

In most cases, a patron may complain about a hot plate served to them as opposed to burning their tongue on a cup of coffee. Sizzling fajita plates still steaming from the kitchen may be tasty, but they can pose a threat to a restaurant’s legal position.

However, if a server comes out with a hot plate, which may reach temperatures as high as 150 degrees, and informs the customer that the plate is indeed hot and not to touch it or wait a few minutes for the plate to cool down, and the patron ignores them, the restaurant will likely not be held responsible for the injuries, such as burnt hands or burnt mouths. Patrons will find it difficult to recover damages if they were informed ahead of time.

By putting these steps in motion, restaurants are doing their due diligence to inform customers that items can be dangerous, avoiding negligence.

About RMS Hospitality Group

At RMS Hospitality Group, our expertly crafted policies are written specifically for the hospitality industry. We offer custom-tailored solutions to meet any venue’s specific needs. For more information, contact our knowledgeable experts today at (888) 359-8390.

Posted in: blog Restaurant Insurance