What are my rights if I have burns to my mouth and face from eating a microwavable food product that was prepared according to directions?

I t had cheese in it which spilled out burning my mouth and face. Is it worth pursuing legal action? I’m generally not a litigious person but I’m concerned this burn may scar or may have done longer term damage inside my mouth. The burn is clearly visible, causing discomfort and blistering. I have not seen a doctor (mainly because this will not be covered by health insurance and I cannot afford an expensive medical appointment). This just happened in the last 12 hours and I’m wondering if I should see a doctor for documentation just in case it does develop into a bigger issue.

Asked on September 23, 2014 under Personal Injury, Iowa

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

First, bear in mind that the *only* compensation to which you might be entitled, even if the manufacturer is liable (see below) would be 1) medical costs; 2) lost wages (if any); and 3) "pain and suffering" if you suffer long lasting (weeks, months, or more) of significant life impairment of disfigurement...and you have to prove that the damage was caused by the burn...and you have to take reasonable steps (like medical care) to reduce the injury or help it heal faster. Essentially, without medical care, you can't recovery anything--you failed to take steps to treat the injury; will have difficulty proving the cause of it; and will not  have medical costs to recover. And in addition, a judge or jury will wonder how serious the injury could have been, if you didn't bother seeing a doctor.  So if you don't see a doctor, you really don't have a claim.

Even if you do see a doctor, you might not have a claim. Even if you followed directions, you'd have to show that you did not bite into the food too quickly (e.g. bit into something obviously too hot without giving it a chance to cool); if it would have been reasonble or normal to wait awhile after cooking to bite in, the injury would likely be your fault, legally, not the manufacturer's.


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