The Continuing Legacy of the McDonald’s Coffee Case

by | Feb 26, 2018 | Insurance Laws | 0 comments

Insurance companies are becoming less likely to make fair settlement offers, as any Michigan disability attorney can attest. There are many reasons for this. Insurers have been hit by the financial crisis, just like other businesses. There have also been increased insurance claims by people who are down on their luck because of the bad economy.

But most of all, insurance companies refuse to make fair offers because they can get away with it. Insurance companies are profit-driven, and one of the best ways to make more money is to pay less money to personal injury claimants.

Years of media reports about “lawsuit abuse” have soured potential jurors to personal injury claimants. While there are certainly some examples of frivolous lawsuits, they are comparatively rare. Insurers are happy to insinuate (if not state outright) that all or most personal injury lawsuits are bogus.

This trend of blaming the victim is traceable to the infamous McDonald’s “hot coffee” case. Your Michigan disability attorney will have to work to overcome this persistent bias when presenting your case.

Facts of the McDonald’s Coffee Case

Most people know the basic facts. An elderly woman was burned when she spilled hot coffee on her lap in a McDonald’s drive-in. She sued McDonald’s and got a big payout. This was treated as a joke by standup comedians and late-night talk show hosts. But the story we heard omitted several key facts.

The woman’s claims didn’t come out of nowhere. McDonalds had received hundreds of claims of injuries from coffee that was too hot. The jury’s verdict included punitive damages (damages intended to punish McDonald’s for being aware of the risk and doing nothing to prevent it). The woman’s injuries were serious, but McDonald’s refused to settle for a demand that was a small fraction of the eventual verdict. Finally, the woman’s verdict was later reduced by a judge.

Contact Us

The backlash to this single lawsuit, encouraged by insurance companies and special interests, is still being felt decades later. If you need a Michigan disability attorney or help with another legal matter, please contact us online or call the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates at (800) 961-8477.


Christopher Trainor and Associates Featured on WXYZ

Recently Christopher Trainor and Associates was featured on WXYZ 7 Action News in Detroit regarding a client's case against the Detroit Police Department in which the client was wrongly arrested and held in jail. The full article and can be found on the WXYZ website.

St Joseph, MI – Injuries Result from Wreck on I-94 near Martin Luther King Dr

St Joseph, MI (March 25, 2022) - A major car crash happened on an interstate in St Joseph on the afternoon of March 20. At approximately 5:10 p.m., an unspecified number of vehicles collided on Interstate 94. Reports show the accident happened on I-94 near Martin...

Zeeland, MI – Auto Accident on Fairview Rd at Washington Ave Ends in Injuries

Zeeland, MI (March 25, 2022) - An auto accident happened on the morning of March 25 in Zeeland that resulted in injuries. The wreck occurred shortly after 8:00 a.m., according to reports.  Sources say the collision took place on Fairview Road near Washington...

Paw Paw, MI – Major Car Crash on M-43 between 37th & 40th St

Paw Paw, MI (March 25, 2022) - A motor vehicle accident occurred in Paw Paw on the morning of March 23 that required an emergency response. The incident was reported to authorities in the area at around 12:21 p.m. Various responders were observed at the scene of the...

Romulus, MI – Motor Vehicle Collision Causes Injuries on I-94 near Vining Rd

Romulus, MI (March 25, 2022) - At least one person was hurt in a crash reported in Romulus on March 25. At approximately 12:55 p.m., police were dispatched to the scene of the wreck located on Interstate 94.  Responders including paramedics, fire crews, and...

Holland, MI – Injury Accident on Waverly Rd at 48th St Requires EMT Dispatch

Holland, MI (March 25, 2022) - On the morning of March 25, at approximately 6:55 a.m., a car accident in Holland required an emergency dispatch.  Reports indicate that a vehicle collided with a pole near 48th Street on Waverly Road.  To assist the injured...

Jackson, MI – Serious Car Accident on M-106 near Deweese Rd and Hawkins Rd

Jackson, MI (March 25, 2022) - Police officers in Jackson were dispatched to the scene of a major car crash on Friday, March 25. According to local officials, the collision happened at approximately 4:00 p.m. on M-106. While emergency personnel rendered aid to those...

Detroit, MI – Police Dispatched to Crash Scene on I-96 near Davison St

Detroit, MI (March 25, 2022) - On March 25, at least one person was injured in a car accident in Detroit. The wreck was reported to officials in the area at approximately 10:50 p.m. According to information from reports, the accident occurred on I-96 near Davison...

Wyoming, MI – Major Accident on 28th St near Clyde Park Ave

Wyoming, MI (March 24, 2022) - Highway patrol officers and first responders were called to the scene of a vehicle collision on March 24 on 28th Street in Wyoming. Reports show that an unspecified number of vehicles collided in the area, resulting in the injury of at...

St Clair, MI – Siblings Killed in Wreck on Kinney Rd near Burt Rd

St Clair, MI (March 24, 2022) - A brother and sister were killed in a two-car crash on Thursday, March 24 in Riley Township. The incident was reported north of Interstate 69 on Kinney Road near Burt Road.  Three people were also hospitalized with injuries,...