Food Poisoning and Personal Injury Law

Personal Injury Law and Food Poisoning

Personal Injury Law and Food Poisoning


Food poisoning cases are very common in the United States. They rarely make the headlines unless they involve a major fast food chain or many people.

Despite their commonplace nature, food poisoning can be extremely painful and even result in death. Poorly prepared or poorly stored food can contain viruses and bacteria including Salmonela, Escherichia coli (E. Coli), Listeria or even Botulism. There are also many parts of the food chain where things can go wrong. Perhaps the manufacturer made a mistake in packaging the food. The distributor may have kept it in poor conditions, the delivery driver may have made a mistake or the chef may have made a mistake in storing the food.

That highlights one of the problems with suing for the personal injury caused by food poison — who is the responsible party. Usually the first stop is the business who sold the food. It is their responsibility to ensure they are selling a safe product to their customers. If they have not ensured a reasonable care and sold unsafe food they may be liable for selling a defective food product. In some food poisoning cases, the retailer ends up suing suppliers further up the chain.

The Role of Negligence
The legal concept of negligence dictates that a reasonable care must be taken. That means the supplier of food must ensure that the restaurant is selling safe food in a safe environment. If the restaurant is neglectful and sells a poisonous food product, they can be liable for damages.

The neglect can be a result of poor hygiene of staff, poor conditions in the kitchen, poor storage of food or incorrect handling of food.

The plaintiff must prove that the unsafe food caused their ailment. You must demonstrate that it was the food eaten at the restaurant and not anything you ate prior to the visit. A doctor can help you ascertain the source of the food poisoning.

The degree to which you are ill can also determine if it is worth proceeding with the case. If you are hospitalised for a number of days and end up with a substantial medical bill, you are more likely to sue than if you just had an upset stomach for a few hours.

If you proceed, your lawyers will need to demonstrate the food was clearly defective and unreasonably dangerous. They must then demonstrate that it was the cause of your illness. Every party that handled the food could be liable.

In most states, there is also an implied warranty with food. It should meet the “ordinary buyers” expectations and conform to a minimal level of quality. Food that is poisonous would not meet with that implied warranty.

Damages
A plaintiff can sue for damages covering a number of expenses including: lost income, medical bills, emotional stress and physical pain. If you die, your family can sue whoever sold the food for wrongful death.

If you have been poisoned, weight up the legal costs with the severity of the illness. For most cases, it is not worth the money to pursue small cases of food poisoning. However, if you are severely ill and it’s costing you money, talk to a personal injury lawyer.