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Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law

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Food Poisoning

Most people have experienced some form of food poisoning in their lives. Even if you think you know what caused it, you may not think you can do much about it.

However, if a restaurant or grocery store caused serious food poisoning and you had to seek medical attention, the restaurant may be responsible for your injuries and medical bills. Product liability claims and personal injury laws are different in every state so talk to a local personal injury lawyer to find out what you can do after a food poisoning injury.

What Causes Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning cases are usually caused by eating contaminated food that has bacteria, pathogens, or a virus that can make you sick. This includes bacteria like According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), types of food that may be more likely to cause food poisoning include:

  • Raw meat and poultry
  • Undercooked food
  • Food left in the “danger zone” (40F to 140F) for too long
  • Raw or unpasteurized milk
  • Raw shellfish
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • Raw or undercooked eggs
  • Raw sprouts
  • Uncooked flour

When Can You Sue for Food Poisoning?

In most cases of food poisoning, you may feel a rumbling stomach and need to rush home to the bathroom. But sometimes a foodborne illness may give you a fever, stomach aches, and make you lose a day or two of work. Severe cases of food poisoning can require medical attention and hospitalization.

A personal injury lawsuit is generally based on negligence. Negligence means that someone breached their duty of care that caused your injuries. To prove food poisoning after eating at a restaurant, you will need to show:

  • The restaurant breached its duty or care to you or other customers by failing to follow food safety regulations
  • The contaminated food caused you to get sick
  • You suffered damages because of a foodborne illness

Food safety laws are there to keep consumers safe. Many states and cities have safe food-handling requirements for working with food in restaurants, grocery stores, food trucks, etc. Employees are taught how to reduce the risk of food poisoning, including safe food temperatures, washing hands, and using gloves. A skilled personal injury lawyer will be able to investigate whether a restaurant worker failed to follow food safety laws when it comes to your food poisoning.

Is a Restaurant Responsible if an Employee Was Negligent?

Some people don’t go through with a food poisoning personal injury case because they don’t think a restaurant employee has enough money to pay for medical expenses. However, the restaurant is generally responsible for the negligence of its employees. Employers are liable for injuries caused by negligent employees while on the job.

How Do You Prove the Restaurant Got You Sick?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting

Different bacteria and viruses can have different incubation periods. This may make it hard to recognize when you got sick from what food items. For example:

  • E.coli can take three to four days before symptoms appear.
  • Norovirus symptoms can begin to appear from 12 to 48 hours after contamination.
  • Botulism symptoms can begin after 18 to 36 hours from exposure.
  • Salmonella can take from six hours to six days for symptoms to appear.
  • Listeria can take up to two weeks before symptoms appear.

If you begin feeling sick from something you ate, take note of when the symptoms started and look back to what you might have eaten in the past few hours to the past week. If you can, save any receipts from dining out at a place that may have been responsible for the food poisoning. If you have any leftovers, you may want to save them for evidence of contamination.

After you sue a restaurant for food poisoning, they may try to deny that anything went wrong. You may be able to help prove your injuries were caused by contaminated food products by identifying other people who ate at the restaurant and also got sick.

What Can I Get in a Food Poisoning Lawsuit?

A personal injury claim can help you recover damages for medical bills, lost income, emotional distress, and any other losses caused by food contamination. In some cases, victims of food poisoning can get punitive damages if the restaurant was knowingly violating food safety laws or had repeated food safety violations.

Talk to a personal injury lawyer about your case and how you can get compensation for your injuries. If a family member fell seriously ill and died after suspected food poisoning, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to help other families avoid similar avoidable food contamination accidents. Contact local personal injury attorneys who understand food poisoning lawsuits.

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