Visitor Question

Burned by hot plate left on in store…

Submitted By: Jackie (Los Angeles, California)

In September of 2016 I suffered a 2nd degree burn to my right hand.  The burn occurred while I was shopping in a grocery store. While shopping I located the product I came to buy. However, it was deep into the lower shelf.  To get to it I had to bend down and reach very far back into the shelf to grab the product. As I did, my hand came in contact with a hot plate which was left on. My hand was burned. The pain was terrible.

I quickly found an employee and showed him my hand. I explained what had happened. He went and brought back a cream and I put it on the burn.The manager came to me and apologized. He said the hot plate was for samples of chicken for customers. He said the employee probably forgot to turn the hot plate off. The manager made what he called an “Incident Report.”

A few hours later the pain was so bad I went to the emergency room. The emergency room doctor said I received a 2nd degree burn. He prescribed some antibiotic cream and an told me to keep the would clean and wrapped for the next week. He told me to follow up with my personal doctor.

So far my medical bills have amounted to $2500. I am a secretary. As a result of the burn I have been unable to work for a week. Because the injury didn’t occur at work my boss said he could not pay me for the lost time. So far I lost $750 in salary.

The store’s insurance company keeps calling me. I don’t know what to do. What are my rights? How much are my injuries worth?

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 Jackie,

Your rights derive from the legal doctrine of Premises Liability. Under this doctrine “real property” owners are required to do everything within reason to make sure their property, referred to as premises, is safe for employees, customers, and other persons legally upon the property.

Real Property is to be distinguished from “Personal Property.” Real property is land, while personal property can include everything from computers to shoes, to cell phones, jewelry, and other personal items.

In some cases shoppers may incur some liability because their own actions contributed to their injuries. When that occurs, liability may be shared between store owner and shopper. However, in your case, the store owner and his or her employees appears to have been entirely negligent. That hot plate should have been turned off.

You can represent yourself in your negotiations with the insurance company. If you choose to do so, you should be entitled to reimbursement for your medical bills and related costs of medications, costs of travel to and from treatment, etc., your lost wages, and an additional amount for your pain and suffering.

You can consult with several personal injury attorneys in your area. Most will not charge for initial office consultation.

Learn more here: Business Liability Claims

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,


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