A young girl playing hide and seek in her friend's garage had that experience turn tragic when the deep fryer with still-hot oil in it tipped over splashing hot oil all over the girl and one of her friends.
She was rushed to the hospital, where two surgeries cleaned out her second degree burns. While there is some visible and permanent scarring on her feet and legs, she is a normal, active girl with few residual injuries as a result of this horrible incident that occurred three summers ago. Also, even more amazing, she did not require any skin grafting surgery.
At first, the family had no idea what to do or who to turn to. Fortunately, they found their way to our office, where we did our best to secure the most money to compensate the girl and her family for these horrible injuries.
There were many roadblocks and limitations on what could be done. While the homeowners were clearly negligent in leaving a deep fryer with hot oil in a garage where young children would play, their homeowner's insurance policy limits were not significant and limited to far below the fair value of this type of case. Further, the policy limits had to be shared fairly with the other girl who was also burned, albeit not as severely. Ultimately, we secured almost the entire policy limits for our clients.
In addition, we pursued the manufacturer of the product to persuade them to pay their fair share for putting a product out that did not have a locking or latching lid, which would have prevented such a massive splash of oil. Product manufacturers use government regulations to their advantage. Often, as in this case, there simply is no requirement that they use a locking or latching lid, or any acknowledgement that it would prevent the scope of the injury anyway. While we retained an expert who believed differently, it was difficult to persuade the lawyers for the manufacturer to take responsibility.
In the long run, however, we did secure money from the manufacturer in addition to the available insurance money.
While there is never enough money to compensate someone for a life- and body-altering injury, this money will go a long way toward paying for a college education.
One thing we can all "take away" from this is to review how safe our households are and also to make sure we have ample insurance coverage just in case something horrible does occur. Keep your homes and children safe!