Mishandling of Corpses: Your Right to Sue

Corpse 002 ripThe death of a loved one is by far one of the saddest and
toughest experiences that we will ever go through.

When a loved one passes, his or her body deserves to be treated with love, respect and dignity.  They deserve to rest in peace.

We expect that a funeral home, funeral directors, creamatoria and all of their staff members are going to care for our departed loved ones with the utmost sensitivity and care.

We don’t expect them to add to our grief and emotional pain by mishandling the remains of our loved
ones and causing emotional distress to those of us left behind.

What Is Emotional
Distress?

Emotional distress includes suffering, anguish, fright,
horror, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shock, humiliation, and shame.
Serious emotional distress exists if an ordinary, reasonable person would be
unable to cope with it. (California Civil Jury Instruction 1620)

Your Special
Relationship With The Mortuary

When a mortuary agrees to provide funeral services and
burial or cremation of our loved one, a special
relationship
is created between that mortuary and the close relatives of
the person that has passed.  That special
relationship creates a duty on the mortuary to perform the funeral-related “services
in a dignified and respectful manner that the bereaved expect of mortuary and
crematory operators.”

There was a case back in 1991 which was heard and decided by the
California Supreme Court entitled Christensen
vs. Superior Court of Los Angeles
(click here to read the case).  Basically, from 1980-1987 several mortuaries
and crematoria desecrated the human remains of some 16,500 bodies entrusted to
them by the bereaved families. 

And what did these mortuaries and crematoria do to these
bodies?  These were your worst nightmares
come true.

  1. Pulled the gold from the decedents’ teeth with
    pliers. This heinous act is known as “popping chops” or “making the pliers sing”
    throughout the industry.
  2. Removed and sold hearts, eyes, corneas, brains
    and other body parts and sold them to companies for commercial distribution.
  3. Cremated the bodies of numerous decedents
    together and placed the remains in 55 gallon oil drums from which they were
    distributed to the bereaved families

The court ruled that If the mortuary and crematory staff
mishandle the remains of our loved ones, then they have breached their duty of
care and are liable to the close family members for the emotional distress that
they create by their acts.

Mishandling of the remains of loved ones continues today

You and your family may be able
to sue the mortuary, funeral director, crematorium, etc., for emotional
distress should the remains of your loved one be mishandled by those to whom
you have entrusted them.  Examples:

  1. Improper
    embalming: Techniques that cause premature decomposition of the body,
    especially when the body of your loved one is going to be presented in an
    open-casket funeral
  2. Not
    properly refrigerating the body immediately following death but before embalming
    can lead to rapid decomposition
  3. Commingling
    of ashes: putting several bodies in the same crematorium during the same burn
    cycle, undermining the respect due your loved one
  4. Selling
    body parts
  5. Not
    disposing of the body in a manner authorized by you

Read the National Funeral Director Association's Code of

Professional Conduct and Enforcement Procedures

Honoring Your Loved One's Memory

If you believe that the remains of a deceased family member have been mishandled the please contact me for a free consultation.  I'm a California Personal Injury lawyer and I'm here for you.

Call me 002

(877) 487-8221

Email me now 001lowell@steigerlaw.com

LS 2012

All Consultations Are Free

Underinsured Motorist Causes Injury. Now What?

    Time
and again people are severely injured in a car accident and the at-fault party
has insurance but not enough insurance to compensate the victim.

Uim uninsured 001    Well,
if you're the victim and have Uninsured Motorist Coverage
in California then it becomes Underinsured Motorist Coverage.  The legality and logistics of Underinsured
Motorist Coverage
can be quite tricky so you will want to consult a California
Personal Injury lawyer in this regard.  Basically, your car insurance provider "steps into the shoes" of the at-fault driver and, without increasing your premiums, affords you more coverage.

Peggy Gets Rear-endedReal Life Example

                My
client, Peggy (not her real name), was minding her own business at a stop light when a driver, let's call him "Texting Bob", smashed into the rear of her brand new VW Bug, totaling it and sending
Peggy to the hospital.

Uim texting 001
                The
hit was so hard that it blew out a disk in Peggy’s neck.  Peggy had to undergo surgery to remove and
replace the disc in her neck.  Apparently
Bob invested significant money in his iPhone but not in his automobile liability
insurance. 

                Peggy’s
medical bills were $105,000.  Bob had a
$25,000 policy limit.  Bob’s insurance immediately
offered the $25,000 to settle the case. 

                Peggy
had Uninsured Motorist Coverage in the amount of $500,000.  I spoke with Peggy’s insurance carrier and
asked what it was that they needed, in particular, to open an Uninsured/Underinsured
Motorist Claim for Peggy.

                Her
carrier wanted a certified copy of Bob’s Declarations Page, a declaration under
penalty of perjury that he carried no other applicable insurance, a copy of the
signed Release of All Claims and a copy of the Settlement Check for $25,000.

                My
office provided all of the requested documents along with the relevant medical documentation
including reports, chart notes and bills along with a demand to Peggy’s
insurance carrier that, due to the seriousness of her injuries and treatment,
they pay the $500,000 policy limit.

                After
several rounds of negotiations, fighting, arguing and legal wrangling, Peggy’s
insurance carrier offered the $500,000 less an offset (to which they are
legally entitled) for the $25,000 paid by Texting Bob’s insurance. 

Uim settlement 001                If
Peggy didn’t have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, she would have been out of luck
because Texting Bob had no more insurance, no significant assets (we did an
asset check) and worked at a low-paying job. 
Essentially, Texting Bob was judgment proof.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Call or E-Mail Me to Discuss Your Auto Insurance Coverage

                It is so
important to have the proper insurance coverage in California.  My practice focuses on personal injury so car
insurance is something with which I’m intimately familiar.  Even if you’re not a current or past client,
I am more than happy to sit down with you in person, by phone or by e-mail, and
discuss your car insurance coverage BEFORE
YOU NEED IT
.

                This is so important that I’m happy to
provide you with this consultation without charge.

 
Call me 002

(877) 487-8221

Email me now 001lowell@steigerlaw.com

LS 2012

Free Consultation With a California Personal Injury Lawyer

    Being
injured in a serious accident or losing a loved one due to negligence is an
unexpected event that shakes your foundation right out from under you. I'm here to help you get through this traumatic, life-changing event.

Fc legal rights
    Our
first meeting is the first step in determining your legal rights.  You’ll have a lot of questions for me, I’ll
have a lot of questions for you. 

    In
order to make the most of our first meeting together, I’ll be asking you to
bring some things with you.  I know that
you may have all or none of what I request so don’t stress yourself.  Once I’m representing you, my office will be
able to get whatever you don’t have.

    If
you can e-mail or fax some these things in advance of our meeting, great!  If not, bring them with you

 

  • Fc insurance 001
  • Fc insurance 002
  • Fc medical bill 001
  • Fc medical bill 002
  • Fc paycheck 001
  • Fc scene 001
  • Fc witness 001
Fc witness 001

CAVIAT: it’s very likely that some of the things that I’m requesting
may not yet be available
!!!

  • Names, addresses, phone, e-mail of those
    involved in the accident and their insurance information (policy number; claim
    number)
  • Names, addresses, phone, e-mail of witnesses
  • Written statements by you, the other party
    and/or witnesses
  • Police reports
  • Pictures of accident scene, vehicles or objects
    involved
  • Pictures of your injuries
  • Evidence of the accident such as torn clothing, broken
    or damaged instruments or equipment
  • Medical and hospital reports
  • Medical bills
  • Repair estimates
  • Rental bills
  • Documentation of lost earnings (pay stubs;
    employer information)
  • Insurance policies or declarations pages

 
LS 2012

Please call or e-mail me

I'm here for you

(877) 487-8221 Toll Free

lowell@steigerlaw.com

 

A California Personal Injury Lawyer’s Perspective on Accidents


                A
California personal injury case can take on many forms.  If you, or someone you love, has been injured
in any one of the following situations, you may have a personal injury case worth
pursuing. 

  • Car accident 002
  • Bike accident 001
  • Bike accident 003
  • Bus accident 001
  • Train accident 001
  • Vicious dog 001
Vicious dog 001

 

 

  • Assault Injuries
  • Bicycle Accident
  • Bus Accident
  • Car Accident
  • Dangerous Product
  • Defective Product
  • Dog Bite / Animal Attack
  • Elevator / Escalator Accident
  • False Arrest
  • Medical Negligence
  • Motorcycle Accident
  • Nursing Home Neglect / Abuse
  • Pedestrian Accident
  • Railroad Crossing Accident
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Slip & Fall Accident
  • Trip & Fall Accident
  • Truck Accident
  • Wrongful Death

Call me to discuss whether you
have a personal injury case.  Consultations are free and unlike a
vicious dog, I won’t bite! (But I will give you my undivided attention).

LS 2012

AVVO Question: What Happens When Doctor Causes More Injuries to Accident Victim?

Avvo logo The following poignant question was posed on www.avvo.com:

"Our daughter suffered a near fatal accient as a result of which she suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). After 28 days the doctors decided to place a feeding tube, which was done by a radiologist. The tube was not placed correctly and the feeding material leaked into her abdominal cavity. After watching her for some 8 days where her Brain injury 001 abdominal cavity hardened and she came down with 104 fever, the surgical group performed an emergency procedure during which they cut her open and cleaned. The bacterial and fungal infection caused near fatal condition for a week (104 fever). Also they had to insert 2 tubes in the cavities to drain her.  Apart from the the near fatal condition which had nothing to do with her TBI, it delayed her recovery and transfer to a rehab center by 18 days, which were valuable towards her initial recovery."

The question becomes:  Who is responsible for injuries she suffered in the hospital?

My response:

Who was at fault for the accident in which your daughter suffered the TBI? If it was someone other than your daughter, then both that person who obviously has nothing directly to do with your daughter's medical treatment and the radiologist (and hospital as well as other medical personnel) may be liable for her injuries.

The Restatement 2d Torts Section 457 states:

Negligence chart If the actor's negligence results in harm to another which requires him to submit to hospital treatment, the actor is responsible for injuries resulting from the improper manner in which any member of the staff does his part in the normal treatment of his injuries. He is therefore as fully responsible for the negligent manner in which the nurses or clerical staff perform their part as he is for the negligent manner in which a physician or surgeon treats the case or diagnoses the injuries or performs an operation.

Medical negligence

Statute of limitations

Beware: Statute of Limitations  Also, the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice is shorter than that for Personal Injury. Please contact an experienced attorney immediately.

 

California Civil Jury Instruction 3929 States:

Caci jury instructions If you decide that [name of defendant] is legally responsible for [name of plaintiff]'s harm, [he/she/it] is also responsible for any additional harm resulting from the acts of others in providing aid that [name of plaintiff]'s injury reasonably required, even if those acts were negligently performed.

Click here to get directions for use of these jury instructions and their sources of authority

Escalator Injuries: Who Woulda Thunk It?

  Escalator 001 techne flickr                Escalator accidents – who woulda thunk it?  Well, actually, I’ve thunk it but, hey, I represent people who get hurt in a variety of ways both common and uncommon.

                Earlier today I read a fascinating account of how a New York Jets fan was injured when an escalator malfunctioned at Meadowlands Stadium.  The Lawyers USA blog post Jets Fan Gets Day In Court Over Escalator Malfunction tells the whole story.  To sum it up, though, it was a crazy game on October 1, 2006. The stadium was packed and everyone stayed until the last second of the game.  “Everyone” means 77,190 distraught Jets fans! 

                Well, when the game was over, they made a mass exodus and, lo and behold, two pals who left at the same time met with very different fates.  Thomas DiBartolomeo and Bob Krauss were passengers on the descending moving staircase.  “Disaster struck when DiBartolomeo and Krauss were on an escalator. According to Krauss, when they were about a quarter of the way down, the packed escalator 'bucked' twice and the treads 'flattened.' The quick-thinking Krauss leapt the handrail onto the neighboring escalator.  

            "But DiBartolomeo wasn’t so fortunate, joining other Jets fans as they slid down to the bottom of the escalator into a pileup of bodies."  He suffered a hernia and a hip injury.  More importantly, what caused the accident? 

Escalator_warning             Schindler, the people who maintained the escalator, concluded that “the escalator had ‘skipped a tooth,’ causing a ‘free fall’ to the bottom.”  A Schindler mechanic believed that the malfunction was probably the result of overloading due to the press of the crowd, with each escalator step rated to bear only 300 pounds.

            So, this got me to thunking – er, I mean, thinking.  How many escalator injuries are out there?  Well, as it turns out, there are lots of escalator injuries and I thought you would be interested in reading about some of them:

  • A malfunctioning three-story escalator at Scotttrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri left 13 people injured as they were leaving an NHL Blues hockey game. Read story
  • Bruce Willis escaped injury when an escalator that he was riding on suddenly sped out of control.  Read story
  • 12 people injured and taken to a local Las Vegas hospital when a Cesar's Palace escalator malfunctions.  Read story

and on and on and on.

Escalator Malfunctions (The Causes)

Escalator malfunction
      

• Design flaws
• Escalator malfunction
• Manufacturing defect
• Missing escalator parts
• Step collapse
• Inadequate maintenance
• Installation errors
• Missing escalator teeth
• Worn escalator belt

Escalator injury

Escalator Injuries

Among other things, the following injuries have been reported as a result of escalator accidents:

  • Knee problems from torn lateral meniscus to ACL tears
  • Back injuries from sprains, strains to protruding/bulging and herniated discs
  • Neck injuries from strains to protruding/bulging and herniated discs
  • Elbow injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Foot injuries including amputations
  • Finger injuries including amputations
  • Scarring, disfigurement

Published Verdicts & Settlements

Although many people would prefer to not serve on a jury, it is through a jury of our peers that justice is served.  Below are a couple of escalator cases (one that settled, one that went to a jury)

Scales of justice Jury duty

The following are cases that have been published to the legal community.  They were not handled by me or my office. 

  • Jane Doe vs. Roe Govt. Agency & Roe Escalator Company: Ms. Doe, a self-employed acting coach, was going down an escalator at a government agency's facility when it suddenly reversed direction, causing her to fall and several other people to fall on top of her. 

          Ms. Doe suffered a left lateral meniscus tear (knee) and posterior disc protrusion (back) which caused her to undergo cortisone injections, physical therapy and surgery.

          The case settled for $425,000

  • Rosen vs. Maguire Properties: Bottom line: A man fell down a non-operating escalator.  It was alleged that Maguire Properties negligently managed, supervised and maintained their property by failing to warn of a dangerous condition on the property (i.e. non-operating escalator).

        Interestingly, Mr. Rosen's injuries were not reported in the summary.  However, a jury found that Mr. Rosen's injuries were sufficient to award him $452,757.


 

Wear Your Seatbelt – Embrace Life, the Viral Video

Well, I think I'm coming late to the party because this beautiful video, entitled Embrace Life, has already had over 10 million hits.  My good friend up north, Lynnette Lipp, sent it to me today and, frankly, I was moved.  I think you'll  be moved, too.  In case you haven't seen it before, I beseech you to watch this video now. 

Seat Belts do save lives!!!  Produced by the Sussex Safer Roads Project

Seat Belt related links:

National Safety Council making our world safer

Wikipedia detailed seat belt discussion, examples

State Seat Belt Laws Governors Highway Safety Association – seat belt laws state by state

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Seat Belts

Questions?
Concerns?

If You, Or Someone You Know, Was In an Accident

Call For Your Free Consultation

Please Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger
Immediately at

              (323) 852-1100       or (877) 487-8221

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the
Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"

Dog Bites: Emotional and Physical Devastation


Vicious dog Being bitten or attacked by a dog can prove to be one
of the most devastating experiences of a person's life. You may find
that, after being bitten, the love that you once had for dogs suddenly
turns to fear and mistrust. The emotional and physical scarring that
result from a dog bite oftentimes requires extensive medical treatment,
scar removal or reduction and psychological counseling to restore you to
the person that you were before this unsettling event.

There are nearly 5 million Americans that are bitten each year by
dogs with almost one million causing injuries which require medical
attention.

Important Links

Victim's Rights

Vicious dog 002 In California, if you, or your child, are the victim of a dog bite or attack, you are
entitled to compensation for your hospital and medical expenses (past,
present and future), loss of earnings (past, present and future) and the
pain, suffering, fear, embarrassment and humiliation that you may have
experienced as a result of this unfortunate and often life-altering
experience. It is our job, as your attorney, to find the responsible
party or parties and seek out the available insurance coverage which is
available to compensate you. It is not uncommon for a dog owner to deny
insurance coverage for the devastation that his or her dog has inflicted
upon you. It is also not uncommon for that denial of insurance coverage
to be false for a variety of reasons.

It is our experience at the Law Offices of Lowell Steiger that many
dog owners initially deny (1) that their dog even bit or attacked the
person and/or (2) that they have an insurance policy that covers the
event. However, aggressive representation of clients in such situations
uncovers the truth and affords you the justice to which you are
entitled.

In California, there are special laws that protect the victims of dog
bite attacks. Contrary to popular belief, there is no "one free bite"
doctrine in California. In particular, California Civil Code
§3342(a)
states

Vicious dog 003 The owner of any dog is liable for the
damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a
public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of
the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or
the owner' s knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon
the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section
when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon
him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of
the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation,
express or implied, of the owner.

Questions?

Concerns? 

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger
immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without
video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the
Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"

Drinking Coffee While Uninsured? Don’t Do It!!!

Hot coffee What do McDonald's, Jack-in-the-Box and an uninsured motorist have in common? Well, you might recall that back in the day  elderly Stella Liebeck was the victim of a hot coffee spill at a McDonald's drive-through.  When McDonald's refused to pay for her skin grafts and other related medical bills, they were hit with a multi-million dollar verdict.  McDonald's whined and cried and screamed bloody murder but, the truth is, that the verdict was in response to their refusal to lower the temperature of the coffee they served to something safe — i.e., a temperature which doesn't cause third degree burns upon instant contact with the skin.  Read McDonald's Coffee Case, The Truth — I'm still outraged at the perception that Stella's lawsuit was frivolous when McDonald's callously put profits above safety.  

But I digress.

Young Woman Burned at Jack-in-the-Box

Fast forward to the 21st Century when a young woman, Teckla Chude, pulls her car into a Jack-in-the-Box drive-through, orders coffee and is handed a cup with a loose lid.  Lo and behold she suffers the same fate as Stella Liebeck and is burned pretty badly.  Teckla's injuries were expressly alleged to be increased because she couldn't get out of the vehicle after the coffee spilled because the drive-thru was too narrow to let her open her door and the hot coffee just soaked through her pants causing burns and, ultimately, some scarring.  She incurred medical bills, loss of earnings and had to delay her schooling a bit.

Jack in box on phone Jack, that clever fellow, had his lawyers argue that Teckla Chude was ineligible to recover for her pain and suffering under California's Uninsured Motorist Law  which states that "in any action to recover damages arising out of the operation or use of a motor vehicle, a person shall not recover non-economic losses to compensate for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, and other non-pecuniary damages, if any."  Read Uh-Oh, Car Accident With No Liability Insurance: "But I'm Not At Fault" for a colorful explanation of the law. 

Teckla Loses! Jack Wins (say what?) 

Yep, you read it right!  The California Court of Appeals decided that the Uninsured Motorist Law applies to this case.  Here's their actual opinion: Chude v. Jack-in-the-Box.  And here's the court's logic:

…Chude used her car to drive up to the drive-through window. Even more than the plaintiff in Harris or Cabral, both of whom had parked and were outside of their vehicles, Chude was seated inside her car, with her seatbelt on, with the motor running and the transmission engaged. Here, the accident "arose out of" her "operation" and "use of" her vehicle at the time of the incident. More important, Chude would not have been in the drive-through lane purchasing coffee but for her vehicle. It is JIB's policy not to serve anyone at a drive-through window who is not in a motorized vehicle. Thus, the accident "arose out of" or "flowed" from Chude's operation and use of her vehicle. Stated otherwise, she was in the drive-through lane precisely because she was using her car to purchase coffee from the drive-through window part of the restaurant. Accordingly, this "action to recover damages ar[ose] out of the operation or use of a motor vehicle" and so section 3333.4, subdivision (a) applies to bar her recovery of non-economic damages.

Don't Get Burned! Get Auto Liability Insurance

Was this the intention of the statute or is the court reaching too far in its interpretation?  Maybe, maybe not.  But this is how the court has interpreted the law so broadly that I must give you the bottom line: Get liability insurance when driving in California or you could get burned! (Read Auto Insurance Coverage From a Personal Injury Lawyer's Perspective)

Questions? Concerns? 

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"

  


What’s My Personal Injury Case Worth?

Personal injury value              Is my case worth
$1 million? $10 million?  We’ve all heard
the stories.  “My friend broke her
fingernail and got $150,000.”  “My
brother-in-law’s friend’s cousin’s son’s wife got $4 million when she fell at
the A & P and broke her wrist.”  “Bob
Hartman got $2.7 million because he was rear-ended by a drunk driver and the
drunk’s insurance company was afraid to go to court.” 

            How
are these crash-to-riches cases possible? 
Well, in a word, they’re not!  

Are there multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements?  Of course there are but they are based on major injuries, good liability and deep pockets.  

Click here for details about a motorcycle accident that my office settled for almost $8 Million

Urban Legends

Urban-legend-rumor             Let’s
face it, folks.  Insurance companies are
not in the business of handing out huge settlements – they’re in business to
make money and unreasonable payouts fly in the face of their business model.  Unreasonable (and unjustified) large payouts
are just not the reality, they are simply urban
legends
.

Snopes.com quells the
examples of alleged gazillion dollar recoveries from people filing outrageous
lawsuits by researching the real facts (or lack thereof).  The Stella Awards,
named for Stella Liebeck, the plaintiff in the famed McDonald’s Burn Case (read
the real story here
) was a leader in putting out annual lists of crazy
lawsuits with alleged crazy
settlements and jury verdicts – but these lawsuits are not real, they are more
examples of urban legends. 

Really, Now.  What’s My Case
Worth
?

         Reality
check everyone: Every case is different.  Your rear-end case has a different value than
your neighbor’s rear-end case.  Sonny’s slip
& fall case has a different value than Chastity’s slip & fall case.  Chester’s
product liability case is different than Field’s product liability case.

            Why?  Because every case has its own unique dynamic
based on many of these factors:

*     
People/entities involved

o      
Parties

o      
Medical providers

o      
Employers

o      
Eye-witnesses

o      
After-the-fact witnesses

o      
Expert witnesses

o      
Insurance company(ies)

*     
Facts of the accident

*     
Who’s at fault and to what extent?

*     
Injuries sustained

*     
Medical bills (past, present and future)

*     
Loss of earnings (past, present and future)

*     
Property damage

*     
Pain, suffering, inconvenience, embarrassment,
disfigurement

 

Case Study

 Scalding Water Burns Tourist in Restaurant 

            As you know,
personal injury cases come in all shapes and sizes. There are, to name a few, traffic collisions, injuries
when someone has a slip
& fall
, product
liability
cases and premises liability
cases.  I am using this premises
liability case to illustrate the points raised in this particular article. 

Note: This story has been fictionalized and all persons appearing
in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead,
places or events is entirely coincidental. 

Boiling water              Facts: Kiki, a
30-year old female Japanese tourist visiting relatives, went to a Chinese restaurant
in Los Angeles’s famed Chinatown for a family meal.    Chinese Restaurants serving large parties
often place a Lazy Susan
on the center of the table to make it easier to serve the meal family style.  

            Early
on, the restaurant placed a teapot filled with scalding water on the edge of
the Lazy Susan.  While Kiki, with her
four-year old daughter Ling on her lap, and 11 other family members sat around talking,
the condensation began to form on the outside of the teapot.  Engrossed in conversation, no one at the
table was paying attention to the Lazy Susan or the teapot until disaster
struck.

            Suddenly,
the teapot was on its side and the contents spilled out all over Ling and Kiki.
 Little Ling began screaming and Kiki rushed
to cover her in cold water all the time unaware that her own arm was drenched
in hot water.

            Kiki
was able to save Ling from serious injury.  Although Ling was burned, the burns were first-degree
and quickly healed, leaving no scars.

            Unfortunately,
Kiki, who was wearing a long-sleeved sweater at the time, was not so lucky.  While Kiki tended to her child, the scalding
water caused her polyester sweater to literally meld into the skin of her arm.  She removed the sweater and several layers of
her skin in the process. 

            Kiki,
suffered second degree
and third degree burns
as a result.  That night she went
into shock
and was rushed to the emergency room. 

            Kiki’s
healing process was long and arduous.  She
returned home and underwent a major skin graft
where they replaced the damaged and dead skin on her arm with skin from her
scalp (and to answer your question in advance, her arm did NOT grow hair).  She has been left with permanent, unsightly
scars on her forearm.

 Who's Fault Is It That Kiki Was Hurt?

             Well,
this case had some unique twists and turns.  In evaluating this case, several of the factors
listed above had to be considered.  The
first, of course, was who was at  fault
was this incident?

            On
first blush, it appears to be the restaurant’s fault.  However, it’s important to note that the plaintiff
(the person making the claim) has the burden
of proving
that it is, in fact, the restaurant’s fault.

            Since
everyone at the table was talking when the incident occurred, we had no
witnesses who could honestly say how or why the teapot tipped over.  It was through the use of an expert witness’s forensic
analysis
that we were able to develop the viable condensation theory.

            The
expert, a physicist, based his analysis on an examination of the location, the Lazy
Susan, the dispenser from which the hot water was poured into the teapot, the
teapot itself and the depositions of Kiki and Shuau, the restaurant employee
who placed the teapot on the Lazy Susan.  Shuau testified at her deposition, under penalty of perjury,
that she was instructed by the restaurant to wait until the temperature gauge
on the dispenser was pointing to red before filling the teapot with water.  

            “What
does it mean when the needle points to red,” I asked.

            “Dangerous.”

            “Dangerous?”

            “Yes,
dangerous.”

            The
restaurant’s attorney covered his face with his hands upon hearing this admission.   It is also important to note that an employer
is responsible for the acts undertaken by its employees while in the course and
scope of their employment
. 

            This
is not to say that the restaurant’s lawyers weren’t mounting a defense.  The severity and degree of the injuries were
definite and obviously caused by the hot water dispensed by an employee of the
restaurant.  

 Who's fault             So
what could they say to mitigate their responsibility?  Simple: Kiki should have removed her sweater
sooner and none of this would have happened!  Yes, this was their defense.  (Defense lawyers ALWAYS have a trick or two
up their sleeve – click
here to read Anderson Cooper’s relevant expose
).  

There were
other family members there – why didn’t they take care of Ling while Kiki took
care of herself?  Actually, I hoped that
the defense would bring this up at trial because what juror would buy that
argument?  If anything, it would inflame
them because any parent, any human being for that matter, is going to tend to a
child before they tend to themselves.  That’s
just human nature. 

What Is Kiki Entitled To? 

Dollar sign              There
are various types of damages that someone is entitled to.  In Kiki’s case she was entitled to special
damages and general damages.  She sued
the restaurant for Negligence for her injuries as well as Negligent Infliction
of Emotional Distress for having witnessed her daughter’s injuries.  Since this writing is devoted to damages, I’m
not going to go into any detail on the actual legal theories of liability.

            Special, or economic, damages
are those that are quantifiable such as past, present and future medical bills
and loss of earnings that arise from the injury.  In this case, Kiki had about $40,000 in
medical bills incurred for the emergency hospital visit and her skin graft.  It was agreed upon by everyone that these
bills were reasonable and certainly necessary.  Therefore, she was entitled to reimbursement
for $40,000.

            General, or non-economic,
damages
are subjective damages for pain, suffering, disfigurement,
embarrassment, emotional distress, humiliation, loss of pleasure in life.  Normally, I’d put the actual figure in here upon
which we settled.  However, I’m going to
leave this to you.  What do you think Kiki is
entitled to by way of general damages
?  
Please put your answer in the comments
section!          

“Wait!” You Say!  “Didn’t You
Forgot Something?

             Just
checking to see if you were paying attention!  No, of course I didn’t forget little Ling.  That would be clumsy of me (not to mention a
tad bit of legal
malpractice
).  Thankfully Ling
suffered no permanent injuries.  She was
scared and had some blisters which healed and left no scars.  Naturally (and necessarily), she was included
in the lawsuit. 

            Ling’s
special damages amounted to $800 for a visit to a local doctor and some healing
ointments.  Again, both sides agreed that
this was reasonable and necessary.

            Again,
I’m going to leave it to you to decide her general damages. 

 Injured? Questions? Concerns? 

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"