Can I sue a supermarket for first degree burn to my son?
While at the local supermarket, me and my children, ages 2 and 5, walked over to the cooked/hot rotisserie chickens that were displayed on a series of warming shelves. As I reached for one on the upper shelf, my son screamed in pain. I looked down and his hand was on the bottom shelf. He reached in to touch it and it burned his hand.
There was no caution sign or protective shield on the warmer, warning not to touch due to the extremely hot surface. All the store managers attended to us immediately, putting ice on his burned hand. My son was hysterically crying. I took him to an urgent care center and he suffered 1st degree burns. He has been in pain all night.
Do I have an injury case here...not only for the burn, but punitive damages? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Can I sue a supermarket for first degree burn to my son?":
You appear to have a solid claim on behalf of your son for damages, including, but not limited to your son's medical bills, prescriptions and over the counter medications, and any of your out of pocket expenses such as his gauze, ointment, etc.
In addition, if you have to take any time off from work to tend to him, whether at home or when taking him to doctor's visits, your lost wages will also be recoverable.
Your son also has a claim for pain and suffering. That amount will include compensation for any scarring he might suffer.
The amount of compensation is negotiable. The traditional method used to determine a fair amount of compensation for pain and suffering is the multiplication of medical bills times 3x - 5x or more. If the possibility of scarring exists the multiple will be much higher.
Be sure to take photographs of the burn. Additionally, be sure you secure a copy of the store's "Incident Report." Although the store's management is under no legal obligation to give you one, if you ask nicely they may.
Be sure to secure the name and telephone number of the store's insurance company. If the store is one of a major chain you may be put in touch with their legal department or other department dedicated to such matters.
Speak with any witnesses to the burn, whether they are store employees or passersby. Once again, the employees will be under no obligation to speak with you. If they choose not to, they are just following corporate regulations.
At this point threatening a lawsuit is inappropriate. You can be confident the store will want to do the right thing, especially if they are a major corporation.
Unfortunately, you do not have a claim for punitive damages. Punitive damages are recoverable in instances where the negligent party's action was unreasonably reckless or intentional. It will be difficult to prove the warmers placed in the store were done so recklessly or with the intention to burn children.
If there is any possibility of scarring you would be well-advised to seek the advice and counsel of a personal injury attorney. Most do not charge any fee for an initial office consultation. Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. They are only paid if they are successful and then their fee can be anywhere from 33.3% to 40%.
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,
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