633 W 5th Street #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071
2323 S. Voss Rd, Suite 244
Houston, TX 77057
Date Modified: June 15, 2023
With more than 15,400 locations across the United States, Starbucks has become the place for coffee and quick bites for Americans.
Were you injured at a local Starbucks Coffee House?
Receive a Free Consultation Today from our California burn injury attorney experts, or keep reading! Like any other store or restaurant, Starbucks owes a duty of care to its customers and must ensure a safe, hazard-free environment for all its guests.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Slip and fall accidents or spilled hot beverage accidents are not a secret behind closed doors. However, accident victims who suffer injuries from the negligence of corporations can pursue a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for their injuries.
Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys have helped injured victims by investigating their cases, gathering evidence, and holding large corporations responsible for their negligence.
Types of Accidents at Starbucks
The two most frequent accidents at Starbucks are slip and fall and spilled hot beverages and food.
Here are some examples of accidents occurring at Starbucks:
All the accidents mentioned above are easily avoidable if Starbucks ensures timely inspections and takes the proper steps to prevent hazards at their locations. Failing to do so can hold them liable for injuries according to premises and product liability law.
Premises Liability in California
According to California premises liability law, property owners, controllers, and operators are responsible for providing safe conditions for all occupants and guests; for corporations like Starbucks, owners and agents must promptly correct any dangers and warn customers about potential hazards.
Under premises liability, when a property owner fails to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of its occupants and customers’ safety, the injured victims can hold these negligent parties responsible for sustained injuries. Slip and fall accidents are the most frequent types of premises liability cases in the United States. Let’s get into the minutia and look at some examples.
A $7.5 Million Slip and Fall Payout
In March 2008, a man ordered a coffee at a Starbucks coffee shop and slipped and fell on a freshly mopped wet floor while receiving his coffee. The victim fell headfirst, but there were no apparent injuries. A day later, the man started feeling pain and nausea and decided to head to a doctor for a medical examination.
At first, the doctors thought it was a minor concussion, but after detailed tests, they realized that the man was experiencing brain trauma. His treatment and therapy continued for more than a year, and he could not resume work.
After suing Starbucks, the manager argued that there were three cones to warn customers of the wet floor. However, witnesses came forward in favor of the plaintiff and told the jury that only one cone was present.
Due to the lack of reasonable safety measures or warnings that resulted in brain injuries to the accident victim, the jury awarded the plaintiff $7.5 million in compensation.
The Frivolous Hot Coffee Burn Lawsuit That Started It All
The first-ever hot coffee burn lawsuit was in 1992 against McDonald’s, and it was the first of its kind, garnering a lot of publicity. Let’s explore the case.
A 79-year-old Albuquerque woman, Stella Liebeck, had just grabbed a cup of hot coffee from McDonald’s and parked her car on the side of the road to add creamer and sugar to the hot drink.
Liebeck put the coffee cup between her legs and proceeded to remove the top lid, but in doing so, she spilled the contents of the hot drink onto her. Her sweatpants absorbed the scalding liquid and held it next to her skin, causing full-thickness burn injuries to her thighs, buttocks, groin, and other nearby areas. After a medical examination, doctors revealed that the coffee burned 6% of the body surface area.
Liebeck spent more than a week in a hospital where she had to undergo local wound care and skin grafts in areas where there were full-thickness burn injuries. She decided to bring a lawsuit against McDonald’s but was willing to settle for $20,000 at the time. McDonald’s determined to make a strategic move to fight the claim proved to be a terrible idea. The discovery phase revealed shocking facts. McDonald’s has already received over 700 claims in the past from customers suffering from burn injuries and full-thickness burns. This suggested that the corporation was well aware of the dangers of high-temperature coffee.
McDonald’s also argued that they serve coffee between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit, which their consultant told them was the best temperature for maximum flavor. They also claimed that most of their customers drank coffee when they went to work or reached home, and by then, the coffee would’ve cooled down. However, their internal research suggested that most customers drank the coffee in their cars.
Liebeck’s legal expert argued that the coffee was too hot to cause full-thickness burn injuries in just a few seconds. The injuries would’ve been insignificant if the coffee temperature were around 155 degrees Fahrenheit (just like how other restaurants serve their coffee).
The damaging testimony came against the fast-food chain when one of their managers admitted that the restaurant required them to keep the coffee hot at 185 degrees. The manager further admitted the possibility of getting burned from the hot coffee and that the fast-food chain had no plans to combat this issue.
The jury trial found that McDonald’s was 80% at fault and awarded an adjusted compensation of $160,000 to Liebeck with $2.7 million in punitive damages, later reduced to $480,000 by the trial court.
Product Liability and Starbucks Coffee
After the 1992 McDonald’s hot coffee incident, the precedent was set, and many restaurants saw an increase in the number of product liability lawsuits filed against them for injurious products. Product liability protects consumers from the negligence of corporations, and because of this law, many cases have started to come to the media’s attention.
A $100,000 Coffee Spill
In 2017, a woman ordered hot coffee from a Starbucks drive-thru and got burned after the lid of the coffee cup fell, and the drink spilled all over her, causing third-degree burns. This Starbucks slip cost the company a lot of money, as the jury awarded $100,000 in compensation.
Potential Damages in Starbucks Accident Claims
Depending on the accident and severity of your injuries, Starbucks spilled coffee, and liquids slip & fall, lawyers will be better capable of placing a value on your potential new case. An accident victim can ask for two types of damages in their personal injury claim: economic and non-economic.
Calculating economic damage is simple by considering medical expenses, lost wages, future income losses, transportation, and accommodation costs associated with medical treatment in most slip-and-fall accidents.
However, it is challenging to value non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, mental anguish, and loss of companionship.
A resourceful law firm has legal and medical experts on its board to help determine the value of non-economic damages and file a Starbucks injury claim accordingly.
Employees at coffee shops can act negligently, harming you or your family and causing fall accidents and horrific scalds. It’s not fair that you bear the brunt of an accident caused by someone else. However, not all accidents give rise to a legal claim.
There are four elements that a plaintiff must prove to ensure a win, and these elements include:
The defendant either owns, leases, controls or operates the property.
The defendant acted with negligence.
The plaintiff suffered injuries.
The injuries were due to the defendant’s negligence.
A personal injury attorney can protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve after a slip and fall accident or other incidents.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you suffered injuries at Starbucks due to the property owner’s negligence, contact us at (213) 596-9642 for a free case evaluation. Our legal experts will listen to your case and guide you. We’ll tell you if your slip and fall accident, head injury, or broken bones with a brain injury claim has legal merit. We will explore all your possible legal options moving forward with a slip and fall hazards of burn injury claim.
Our lead injury lawyer understands how a fall accident or severe burns at a local Starbucks can put a dent in a victim’s financial situation. Our slip-and-fall attorneys are always ready to pursue legal action against negligent parties serving coffee aggressively. Let us hold the coffee company accountable for fall injuries or other losses.
At Ehline Law, we believe you shouldn’t worry about finances and focus on recovering after life-altering injuries at your Starbucks location. Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, helping alleviate upfront legal costs, which means we only get paid if we win your serious injuries case.
Our injury lawyers can also assist in locating a lien doctor to provide you with world-class treatment while we work on your case. For more information, contact us or visit any of our locations 24/7 to form an attorney-client relationship.
Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients.
We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.