Visitor Question

Baby burned hand on sidewalk light…

Submitted By: D (GA, USA)

We had just finished eating at a nicer chain Chinese restaurant. We were sitting outside and my baby son wanted down. So my mother (his grandmother) sat him down to let him crawl and venture about. We all thought it would be just a matter of seconds once he discovered how ruff sidewalk concrete is to your hands and knees, then he would want someone to pick him right back up.

As soon as his grandmother sat him down on the ground to let him crawl he darted straight for a light built into the sidewalk. The light serves no purpose other then decoration as they are randomly placed about. These lights are meant to be touched and walked on, so we thought nothing about him placing his hand on the light. But as soon as he touched it he screamed like we never heard before.

Instantly my son’s mother swiped him up. Thankfully she was keeping a very close eye on him. Immediately we looked at his hand and the top layer had already melted off. I went and got the manager to let him know what had happened. I do have to say he did a great job handling everything for the most part. He went ahead and made a case number and an insurance claim so that all the medical bills were taken care of.

Now I am wondering if I can still sue for pain and suffering, time out from work, and all the gas it took to go back and forth to the doctor? Also, just the fact that they knew about the problem and someone was supposed to be coming out to work on the lights for the past week before the accident.

How much can my son expect to get from this accident? I’ve heard of other chains being sued for $1 million for hot coffee burning the customer. I’m sure I’ll probably get nothing close to that, but what is a real number to expect? What are the things we should be pursuing? This happened in Georgia. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear D,

While it’s good to know the restaurant manager was attentive to your son’s medical needs, the issue of liability is not assured. Moreover, the issue of contributory negligence may bar, or severely limit any claim you believe you have on behalf of your son.

Foot lights are just that. They are lights normally placed at the feet of people, and often serve to keep people on the path to and from a premise. In your son’s case it could be reasonably argued having placed your baby down on the concrete was negligent in and of itself. Most reasonably attentive parents would not place their baby down on concrete, especially when doing so could result in the baby’s discomfort.

For example, when you say, “We all thought it would be just a matter of seconds once he discovered how ruff sidewalk concrete is to your hands and knees, then he would want someone to pick him right back up.” This clearly implies you were going to allow your baby to remain on the concrete until such time as his pain or discomfort made him want to be picked up. That could be quite distressing for a judge or jury to hear.

Your son’s best interest may be served by seeking the advice and counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney. In most cases, barring gross negligence or reckless disregard for the welfare of others, the restaurant owner’s insurance company may offer to pay 3-4x times the amount of his medical bills.

In your son’s case it’s unlikely a court would find the restaurant was grossly negligent or acted in reckless disregard for the safety of your son. Add to that the appearance of contributory negligence and your son’s claim may be of little value.

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

Best of luck,

Published: December 27, 2013

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