What to do if I own a small cafe and my waitress accidentally spilled hot water from a cup of tea on a customer but I don’t have any liability insurance?

Today I received a letter from her attorney asking for my insurance info. In the letter it says she suffered second degree burns. I think she is exaggerating. When the accident happened she was saying she wanted an ambulance and had her friend take pictures. We called 911 and they came and treated her. She wanted to go to the hospital but the paramedics said that wasn’t necessary and said that they treated her and there wasn’t a reason to go to the hospital. So she had her friend drive her there, she says.

Asked on November 9, 2011 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It would be advisable to be represented by an attorney.  Without insurance, the customer will file a lawsuit against your cafe and you will also be named in the lawsuit as the owner of the cafe.  The lawsuit will be for negligence because as an employer, you are liable for the negligence of an employee (the waitress) which occurred in the course and scope of her employment.

The customer's lawsuit will be seeking compensation for the medical bills, pain and suffering (an amount in addition to the medical bills) and wage loss, if applicable.

If you had insurance, the insurance company would have handled the matter and if the case was not settled with the insurance company, the insurance company would have provided you with an attorney at no cost to you.

You should hire an attorney to handle the litigation and try to settle the case with the opposing party's attorney.


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