Compensation for Getting Head Stuck in Automatic Door at McDonald’s

mcdonald's door
McDonald's in Shipai was ordered to compensate a visually impaired man who got his head stuck in the automatic door. Photo: Google Street View

A McDonald’s in Shipai, Beitou District, has been ordered to compensate a visually impaired man who got his head stuck in the store’s motion sensor door. The man had sought more than NT$3.21 million (US$104,000) for the incident, but the Shilin District Court awarded him NT$208,403 (US$6,750) as it ruled the McDonald’s outlet did not properly manage the motion sensor technology that led to the accident.

The plaintiff, surnamed Wang, entered the McDonald’s at 8 pm on May 28, 2015, to use the restroom. Wang claims that he entered as someone exited, placing his cane in front of him to ensure that the door would not close. The door closed on his head with a force of 3 kg, UDN reported. He claims that he suffered further sight loss and other effects, such as concussion, dizziness, anxiety, and an endocrine disorder leading to lesions, due to the incident.

Wang told the court that he now has a fear of public spaces and requires daily taxi rides to avoid accidents while walking. He said that at the time he was preparing to enter the workforce, but now he cannot work, which adds to the burden put on his wife.

He alleged that the store manager had neglected public safety by not properly maintaining the sensors for the door. The person who installed the door told the court that the door can be opened with the sensor or by pushing the button, but that the sensor’s range is limited, which can lead to the door closing prematurely on customers.

McDonald’s management countered that despite the accident, Wang and his wife had entered the store for the sole purpose of using the restroom without making a purchase, and therefore the store’s liability did not violate the Consumer Protection Act. The store’s management also called into question the severity of Wang’s lingering injuries that it claimed should not have lasted more than a week. McDonald’s refused to compensate Wang for work-related losses, care expenses, or other expenses.

The court ruled that McDonald’s should have recognized the limitations of the infrared sensors and installed more effective ones along the door frame to better serve a wider range of people. The court also disagreed with the claim that Wang was not a customer because he only wanted to use the restroom — all people who enter the property should be protected by the Consumer Protection Act regardless of whether they make a purchase.

In addition, the court said that it could not determine whether the accident had exacerbated any previous medical conditions that Wang suffered, thus reducing the compensation claim. McDonald’s was ordered to pay for Wang’s medical treatment immediately following the accident, transportation expenses, and one week’s pay for his loss of work.

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