Tap Water Burns | The American Association For Justice

Tap Water Burns


Scalding injuries caused by hot water account for thousands of serious and sometimes fatal burn injuries each year. Such injuries often entail excruciating pain and permanent disfigurement. A Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) consumer alert stated that 2,600 persons are injured yearly by excessively hot tap water from home faucets. The CPSC also reported 159 fatalities due to tap water scalds over a four-year period. Children and the elderly are most at risk.

Home hot water heaters can produce water hot enough to cause third-degree burns within seconds. Hot-warm-cold settings on the heaters can be misleading. Also, mixing valves in shower heads and basin faucets are not always reliable, and changes in water pressure can suddenly elevate water temperature to unsafe levels.


Negligence plays a role in many of these accidents. Among the negligent actions are setting the thermostat too high, reversing hot and cold water pipes, misplacing the temperature sensing rod, failing to install a mixing valve, and failing to inspect the water spigot. The strict liability of water heater manufacturers is also important. Design defects include equipment malfunctions, failure to warn of scalding dangers, and failure to install accurate temperature controls.

The group was formed in January 1991. Liability suits have traditionally been premises cases filed against landlords, hotels, apartments, hospitals, etc. More recently, liability for injuries occurring in homes has centered on design or manufacturing defects.

Benefits & Resources:

The group maintains a central registry of depositions and other materials from scalding burns litigation. Members have access to data on injuries, experts, and appropriate warnings, and to government studies of injuries and design defects.


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