Burned by Hot Skillet at a Restaurant...

by Keren
(Florida)

I went to a a chain bar and grill restaurant. The manager brought what I ordered in a very hot skillet with no mitt on the handle like they always have, and I burned my hand trying to move it. The manager said he couldn't find any mitts in the back and offered me a free margarita. He then walked away, as my hand quickly got swollen and started burning really badly.

My friend went and asked an employee for ice and ointment. The employee asked what happened and my friend told her I burned my hand with the hot skillet. The employee answered that they don't use mitts any longer because she can never find them, so my friend walked away.

The manager came back with a cup of ice and stated he had no ointment nor a first aid kit, and said he sent someone to the store to buy me ointment. The employee returned with a tube of desitin. A couple of minutes later as I'm sitting there with my hand on fire, the manger served 2 hot skillets WITH MITTS ON THEM to the 2 ladies who were sitting behind me.

I got a little upset and asked the manger how he happened to get mitts right after I got burned? He answered, "oh, I just found them." Then the general manager showed up for us to fill out an incident report.

Now I'm in the middle of dealing with an adjuster from the restaurant's insurance company. He's asking me how much I want to settle for and I don't know what to say. I'm very upset about the whole incident. What should I ask for? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Burned by Hot Skillet at a Restaurant...":

Keren (Florida):

Your are in a precarious position. It appears the restaurant's employees, including its manager, were at best unprofessional and at worst terribly negligent.

The restaurant has a "duty of care" to its patrons. That duty includes, but is not limited to, making the food, environment, and employees safe and protective of its patrons. That duty was clearly breached.

The traditional method in evaluating an appropriate and fair settlement amount for a "soft tissue" injury is to take an injured patron's medical costs and multiply them by anywhere from 1.5x to 3x, 4x, or even higher, depending upon the severity if the injury.

A soft tissue injury is one like yours, where there aren't any broken bones or organ damage. Instead you suffered contusions, abrasions, swelling and burning of the skin. If you will have a permanent scar it makes your case much more serious.

An alternate method in evaluating claims is for the insurance company to pay the amount $2,000 dollars for each month the patron is in treatment and therapy.

These methods of evaluating claims were developed over many years. Instead of adding an injured patron's medical bills, out of pocket expenses such as prescription and over the counter medications, lost wages and more to determine a fair settlement for "pain and suffering", the insurance companies (and personal injury attorneys) came up with the two aforementioned methods of evaluating personal injury claims.

From the facts you present you didn't incur any medical bills, out of pocket expenses, or lost wages. As a result, unless you are able to show, with a physician's medical diagnosis and prognosis, that your burn is serious enough as to require future treatment or possibly cosmetic surgery, you don't have much leverage with which to negotiate a settlement.

If you will not require any medical treatment now or into the foreseeable future, then try to negotiate a settlement in the amount of $2,500 dollars. That's a starting point and you probably won't get that amount. That's why it's called a "negotiated settlement".

The insurance company will probably offer you between $500 - $750 dollars. Try to compromise at a minimum of $1,500 dollars. That would be a fair settlement under the facts you describe.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION