How to Sue a Fast Food Company

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” – Murphy’s Law

There remains some debate as to the origins of Murphy’s Law. Legend has it that Edward Murphy coined the phrase in response to the failure of several new measurement devices. Murphy’s Law might have originated in a lab, but one industry should be the contemporary reference for what can go wrong will go wrong.

We are talking about the restaurant industry, especially a restaurant owned by a fast-food company.

Perhaps the most famous personal injury case that involved a quick-service restaurant happened in 1992. Stella Liebeck purchased a cup of takeout coffee from a McDonald’s located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As Mrs. Liebeck sat in the back seat of a motor vehicle, she tried to remove the lid with the cup of coffee secured between her legs.

When the cup tipped over, dangerously hot coffee scalded her skin, with the result being extremely painful third-degree burns. Mrs. Liebeck took McDonald’s to court by filing a personal injury lawsuit. The jury found Mrs. Liebeck to be partly to blame for the incident, which reduced her award for monetary damages. 

What the case demonstrated is fast food restaurants can be held legally liable for personal injury incidents. If you suffered one or more injuries due to the negligence of a fast-food restaurant, you need to learn how to sue a fast-food company.

Since 1988, the personal injury attorneys at Morgan and Morgan have successfully litigated cases that paid out more than $20 billion in monetary damages. Before you agree to hire a personal injury lawyer from Morgan & Morgan, we will provide a free case evaluation to determine how to proceed with your claim.

More answers to commonly asked questions

A fast-food lawsuit involves a restaurant operating in the quick service niche. As the name implies, customers expect their meals to come out of the kitchen faster than when they dine at full-service restaurants. Many fast-food restaurants include drive-thru windows to expedite orders.

Litigation against a fast-food company typically concerns a personal injury incident. A plaintiff files a claim in a civil court alleging a fast food restaurant committed one or more acts of negligence that caused a serious injury. Fast food companies do not have to be found intentionally negligent for causing an injury or injuries. Careless acts such as forgetting to thaw chicken properly can lead to the filing of a personal injury lawsuit.

Most fast-food dining experiences are pleasant from ordering a meal to driving away from the restaurant. However, there are three common reasons why a customer files a lawsuit against a fast-food company.

Food Poisoning

Food that makes customers sick puts a restaurant on the legal hot seat. Cases involving food poisoning often impact several customers that became ill around the same time on the same day. This type of personal injury lawsuit against a fast-food company can be difficult to prove, especially if the symptoms of food poisoning did not develop until many hours after a customer dined at a quick-service restaurant.

If you become ill after eating at a quick-service restaurant, you need to learn how to sue a fast-food company by contacting Morgan & Morgan.

Slip and Fall

Most quick-service restaurants install a self-serve beverage station that stands to the side of the main counter. If an employee does not stay on top of keeping the beverage station clean, beverages can spill on the floor to create a safety hazard. Slip and fall incidents can cause fractures in the arms and wrists, as well as leave a customer suffering from a concussion.

Proving negligence in a slip and fall case requires video footage shot before, during, and after the incident.

Auto Accident

Fast food companies that do not maintain a safe parking area can find themselves in a courtroom defending allegations of negligence that caused an auto collision. From not removing ice and snow to failing to post traffic directional signs, a quick-service restaurant can be found legally liable for causing a car crash.
Witnesses and video footage that was taken of the parking lot can help you build a strong enough case to file a personal injury lawsuit against a fast-food company.

When you sit down with one of our personal injury lawyers, you will learn how to sue a fast-food company. Let’s take a quick look at the steps to file litigation against a quick-service restaurant company.

Filing a Complaint

The first step in the litigation process involves filing a group of legal documents, which the court serves to the defendant. A complaint allows you to explain the reason for filing the civil lawsuit, as well as the legal foundation of your case. Your complaint identifies you as the defendant, followed by a detailed account of what transpired to cause a personal injury incident.

Service of Process

Service of process represents the legal term for serving the defendant with your complaint. This step concludes once the defendant acknowledges receiving it. A court official, law enforcement officer, or professional process server completes the service of the process. Service of process can also take place through the United States Postal Service (USPS), but the defendant must submit proof of receipt.

Response From the Defendant

After completing the service of process, the defendant responds to your complaint. The defendant has two ways to respond. First, the defendant can answer your complaint by responding to each of the allegations. The responses either confirm or deny each allegation. Second, the defendant has the right to file a motion to dismiss your complaint.

Knowing how to sue a fast-food company boils down to collecting and organizing enough convincing evidence. If you present enough strong evidence during the discovery phase of your lawsuit, the attorneys representing the fast-food company might agree to reach a favorable settlement. When the trial starts for your civil lawsuit, you should be ready to introduce a variety of evidence to boost your claim.

Medical Records

Before you prove negligence, you first have to demonstrate that you suffered one or more serious injuries. The results of diagnostic tests, treatment programs, and physical therapy sessions should give the judge overseeing your lawsuit enough information to calculate the value of your claim. You also want to include a written statement submitted by your doctor that describes your prognosis for making a full and partial recovery.

Video Footage

A vast majority of quick-service restaurants operate a security camera system that covers the inside of a restaurant, as well as the drive-thru lane and parking lot. Your personal injury attorney will ask the lawyers representing the fast-food company to hand over copies of the video footage shot at the time of your personal injury incident. Video taken at the time of the incident can be the most persuasive type of evidence filed with your fast food lawsuit.

Witness Testimony

Witness accounts of what transpired on the day you got hurt at a quick-service restaurant support the physical evidence that you submit with your lawsuit. Your lawyer should take witness statements as soon as possible after the personal injury incident. Memories tend to fade over time, which means you want the freshest version of events to be a part of the official record.

Witness accounts taken right after the incident must be the same as the testimony presented during the civil trial.

Judges and juries award two broad types of monetary damages: compensatory and punitive.

Special Compensatory Damages

Special compensatory damages cover the economic losses that you suffered because of the negligence of a fast-food company. You have the right to seek compensation to cover the costs associated with medical expenses. If you had to pay for property damage, such as the cost of repairing your car after an accident, the judge can rule you deserve special compensatory damages. You also might qualify for special compensatory damages if your injuries forced you out of work.

General Compensatory Damages

Unlike special compensatory damages, general compensatory damages do not come with a price tag. Pain and suffering represents the most common type of general compensatory damages because it covers mental anguish and emotional distress. A personal injury incident can trigger trauma that stays with you for months, if not years after you got hurt at a quick-service restaurant.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages penalize the defendant for committing one or more acts of intentional negligence. Judges and juries hearing personal injury cases against a fast food restaurant chain often award a substantial amount of money to plaintiffs because the defendants have deep pockets.

Knowing how to sue a fast-food company requires you to team up with an experienced personal injury attorney. Schedule a free consultation today with one of the highly-rated personal injury lawyers at Morgan & Morgan.

The statute of limitations, which is the deadline for you to file a personal injury lawsuit, varies among the 50 states. For example, you have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit in Arkansas, while Illinois gives you just two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. One of the most important things to learn about how to sue a fast-food company is to know how long you have to get it done.

If you fail to meet the deadline for filing a personal injury claim in the state where you live, you can expect the court to dismiss your claim. When the attorney representing the fast-food company learns about your failure to meet the statute of limitations, the lawyer will inform the court and then request dismissal of your complaint.

You might face a tight deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit, but you have not gathered enough information to file a complaint. A personal injury attorney can help you file court documents that keep your right to sue a fast-food company intact.