The 3 Most Famous Personal Injury Cases 

 December 3, 2014

By  LMW Attorneys

Personal Injury cases are cases that help injured individuals get compensated for their medical expenses, loss of wages and emotional damages brought on by the actions of another person. While the media may go out of its way to portray personal injury cases as “frivolous,” this is generally not the case. Many times, individuals have lost their entire livelihood, all because of the negligent actions of others. Here are some of the most famous personal injury cases, and why you might not know about them.

#1. Harris v. McGraw

Television personality Dr. Phil McGraw found himself in the hot seat back in 2011 after being slapped with a personal injury lawsuit. Skin-care specialist Janet Harris was visiting with McGraw and his wife when the couple’s dog, Maggie, bit Harris. Rather than take their injured guest to the hospital, the McGraws convinced Harris not to seek medical attention due to the negative publicity it may cause.

Due to the lack of treatment, Harris developed a serious bacterial infection, which resulted in a hand tremor and even loss of hearing. Harris, who made her living using her hands, was forced to shut down her business as a direct result of the bite. Because of this, Harris filed suit for $7 million against the McGraws to compensate for her loss of wages, medical treatment and emotional damages. The case was settled out of court in 2013 for an undisclosed amount.

#2. Escola v. Coca-Cola

Personal injury cases are not a new phenomenon. The year 1944 marked a landmark in personal injury cases. Waitress Gladys Escola was putting away a glass bottle of Coca-Cola at her job when one of the bottles spontaneously exploded. The injuries were severe and she suffered five-inch deep cuts. The blood vessels, nerves and muscles in her thumb and palm were severed, causing blood loss and permanent damage.

Escola filed suit against Coca-Cola and won the case. Today, this is one of the most notorious personal injury cases and is taught to almost all first year law students. This is because this case set a standard for manufacturers being held accountable for their faulty products.

#3. Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants

The case of 79-year-old Stella Liebeck suing McDonald’s over spilled coffee is probably one of the most famous, and misunderstood, personal injury cases. Many see it as an example of “frivolous lawsuits” in America, but this is only because they do not know the facts.

Liebeck was in a stationary car when she attempted to remove the lid from McDonald’s coffee to add milk and sugar. During this process, the entire cup of coffee spilled in Liebeck’s lap. The beverage was so hot that it caused third-degree burns on Liebeck’s thighs, buttocks and groin. The burns were so severe that Liebeck required skin grafts, and the doctors were unsure if she would survive.

Initially, Liebeck only sought $20,000 in damages. This way she could cover her $13,000 in medical cost and lost wages. McDonald’s offered only $800. It was then that Liebeck took the restaurant chain to court and was awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages.

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