Few things are more important than your health and safety. If you’ve been injured in an accident—whether on the road, at work, or somewhere completely unexpected—it’s almost always in your best interest to turn to an attorney who will make sure you are appropriately compensated. But every now and then, a bad egg will set out to abuse the system. Here’s a look at some of the most jaw-droppingly outrageous personal injury lawsuits of all time.
1. The Worst Part of Waking Up
In what is perhaps the world’s most well-known personal injury case, in 1994, a then 79-year-old woman named Stella Liebeck suffered third-degree burns on her lap after spilling a cup of coffee she had purchased at McDonald’s. Liebeck initially sought $20,000 from the fast-food chain, but when they offered her just $800, she retained legal counsel. Her attorneys argued that McDonald’s coffee was defective because it was served at a higher temperature than any other establishment would serve it. Liebeck was eventually awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages and she became widely known as “the poster child of excessive lawsuits.”
2. Bubble Trouble
On the morning of July 7, 2001, a prankster dumped five gallons of dish soap into Canal Park’s Fountain of Wind in Duluth, Minnesota, creating a mountain of bubbles. A few hours later, a woman named Kathy Kelly was passing through the park when she slipped on the suds and fell into the fountain. She cut her left shin and, due to her diabetes, the wound became infected and she incurred medical bills. Kelly sued the city of Duluth and, in March 2004, a jury awarded her $125,000.
3. Defective Beer Goggles
Ever see a beer commercial where everyone is young and beautiful and they’re all having a great time on the beach? Most people recognize that as a fantasy, but in 1991, a man named Richard Overton took it as false advertising. He sued Anheuser-Busch for $10,000 after seeing an ad in which gorgeous women in a tropical setting magically materialized for two men driving a Bud Light truck. After failing to attract such women despite drinking more and more of their beer, Overton claimed to have suffered emotional distress due to the misleading ads. As you can imagine, the case was dismissed.
4. Flower Power
In 2007, 1-800-FLOWERS sent a note to a man named Leroy Greer, thanking him for his recent purchase. The problem? His wife received the note, but the flowers Greer had purchased were for his mistress. Rather than manning up and taking responsibility for his actions, Greer decided to take the low road: he sued 1-800-FLOWERS for inadvertently revealing his infidelity. In what can only be described as karmic retribution, his case was ultimately dismissed.
5. Baked Goods Go Bad
One night in July 2004, two Colorado teenagers named Taylor Ostergaard and Lindsey Zellitti decided to bake cookies for their neighbors. They wanted their good deed to remain anonymous, so they knocked on their neighbors’ doors and then ran away after leaving a bag of cookies on the porch with a note that said, “Have a great night. Love, The T and L Club.” Around 10:30 p.m., they arrived at the home of a woman named Wanita Renea Young, who later claimed to have seen shadowy figures outside her house. She called out, “Who’s there?” but the girls ran away as they had at other houses, wanting the treats to be a surprise.
Young was frightened and went to the hospital the next morning, fearing she had had a heart attack. She sued the girls, and a judge awarded her $900 for her medical expenses but denied her demand for $3,000 in punitive damages. Ostergaard and Zellitti received numerous donations to help them pay the $900 fine.
How to Tell if You Have a Legitimate Personal Injury Claim
As you can see, there’s a lot of frivolous litigation out there. But there are also plenty of instances when a personal injury claim is completely legitimate. If you’re unsure whether you have a valid claim, here are three of the basic requirements:
- The responsible party was careless or negligent (e.g., a distracted driver rear-ends you).
- That negligence caused your injury (e.g., that collision caused you a head injury).
- The injury you sustained resulted in compensatory damages (e.g., your head injury leads to medical bills, pain and suffering, and/or lost wages).
The best way to find out for certain if you have a legitimate personal injury claim is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. At The Farah Law Firm, we’ll help ensure you receive the treatment you need and the compensation you deserve. If you believe you have a personal injury claim, contact our office today and schedule a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys will be there to help you navigate the difficult road ahead.