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Coffee Strikes Again

We had to introduce CAUTION HOT, do we now need to introduce LID ON so that injuries of this nature do not happen!

In 1994 in Liebeck v McDonalds it was established that McDonald's owed a duty of care to Liebeck after she suffered horrific burns. This also lead to the introduction of the Caution Hot on your coffee lids.

In 2019 Mr Hoare suffered severe burns after he was getting his morning coffee. He placed the cup on his lap due to his disabilities. The lid was not on and it seeped out. He did not realise, due to having no feeling, and he suffered severe burns.

The legislation requires that you establish a duty of care and that if that duty of care is breached and causes damage you are entitled to make a claim.

What is the duty and how is it tested? We need to ask did the server place on the lid or did Mr Hoare?  If it is the server, than we may establish a duty of care that the server failed to place it on correctly and breached its duty of care.  The test is objective, whether a reasonable person have known that if you don’t put the lid on it would seep out.

Surely the common sense answer to that is of course. But should that level of care be even higher if you are serving someone who has a disability and they will need to transport the coffee in a different manner. Is it the responsibility of the coffee server to check that it is secure and safe for the person?

If the lid was on correctly it is more likely than not that the injury would have been avoided. Personal injuries caused by the negligence of others deserve compensation.

This article was written by Special Counsel Karena Nicholls. 

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