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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 118767
Experience:  Licensed Attorney. Over 20 years experience in personal injury and law enforcement.
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Re: PI Burn in CA restaurant My mother went to a soup salad

Customer Question

Re: PI Burn in CA restaurant
My mother went to a soup salad type of buffet restaurant in CA. In one section they have brownies/blue berry muffins/bread/hot potatoes and sweet potatoes.
They pan for the hot baked potatoes is about 12inches by 18 inches. For customers to get the hot potatoes they have SMALL tongs next to the hot try; however, many times the tongs fall completely into the bottom of the pan, especially when the pan only has a handful of potatoes. This time my mom went to get a hot potatoes the SMALL tongs, maybe 7 inches long, which is smaller than the size of the deep hot pan, were at the bottom of the HOT pan. My mom had to reach inside the HOT pan to get the tongs, she had no choice. while reaching into the hot pan she really burnt the inside of her tender forearm skin, causing pain and a scar.
We informed the restaurant they informed their insurance company. The insurance company claims rep asked for pictures and then a month later they replied via email with the following: "I have completed my investigation and we will not be able to accept liability for this incident. There have not been other complaints or issues with other customers, the potatoes have to be on the warmer to prevent them from getting cold. If you want to discuss, you may reach me at phone number."
Even me being a non-atty see serious problems w/ this reply. They need to provide a SAFE environment for customers to safely get the potatoes. Having tongs so small where they fall into a VERY HOT pan is negligence I would assume.
Please provide your opinion and next course of action? Formal demand letter? I would assume at least $2,000+ would be the minimum demand. My mom is a senior citizen and went through paid for several days and now has a mark on her arm. Not right!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

If the business has created or caused a hazardous situation or failed to at least provide adequate warning about the pans being hot, then yes they are liable. A business is not liable just for every injury that occurs on their premises, they have to either have knowledge of a dangerous condition and fail to cure it or there has to be some inherently dangerous condition (such as hot pans) and they have to fail to provide adequate warning to the customer.

So, your next step, since the insurance turned you down, would be filing a suit in small claims court. If there are no medical bills and only a couple of days of pain, no lost wages or anything else, plus the permanent scar, you are about right, anywhere from $1000-$4000 would be about right depending on the size and visibility of the scar.