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Can I Sue For Food Poisoning?

Published in food poisoning on July 14, 2016.

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Each year, hundreds of Americans fall ill due to poorly prepared or contaminated foods. Every time we turn on the news, there seems to be news of another recall. Recently, Chipotle made national headlines when it was linked to cases of norovirus and E. coli in several states. Stores shut down all over the country – 43 in total.

Anyone who has ever had food poisoning knows how miserable an experience it is. Severe bouts of food poisoning can lead to dehydration and even hospital time. People don’t think of food poisoning as grounds for a personal injury suit, but if it caused you pain or suffering and was due to someone else’s negligence, you’re within your rights to pursue a claim. 

What Legal Grounds Do I Have To Sue?

All personal injury cases rely on the plaintiff providing proof of negligence. Food poisoning claims work a little differently in that you don’t have to prove negligence directly. These claims fall under the umbrella of defective product liability, which simply means that a party sold you a defective product (food) that led to injury or illness. We pursue two different types of justifications when pursuing food poisoning claims:

  • Breaches of warranty: When you buy and consume food, it comes with an implied warranty, meaning that the seller has taken reasonable precautions to ensure that your food is safe to consume. If it makes you sick, they have breached that warranty.
  • Strict product liability: You’re probably familiar with the saying, “The burden of proof is on the accuser.” In personal injury cases, this typically holds true. In food poisoning cases, however, you don’t have to supply anyone with ironclad proof that a manufacturer didn’t exercise reasonable care – you only have to prove that the food made you sick.

How Do I Pursue A Case?

The theory of strict liability holds that you generally have to prove two things to win a food poisoning claim:

  • That you ate a contaminated food or product and
  • Consuming that product made you sick.

This is easier said than done. Because of the time between consuming contaminated food and the onset of symptoms, pursuing food poisoning personal injury claims can be tricky. Whenever possible, get the health department involved: Its job is to monitor closely any outbreaks of serious pathogens such as listeria and E.coli.

So how do you prove which food made you sick? Ideally, you’ll want to seek treatment and have medical professionals run tests on a stool sample. Once a hospital confirms that you’ve been sickened by a pathogen, you simply need to test a batch of the contaminated food to see if it has the same pathogen.

Negligence can occur at any point in the food distribution chain. The manufacturer of certain ingredients may be to blame, or unsanitary practices of a restaurant’s kitchen staff may sicken you. You can even hold grocery stores accountable for not checking expiration dates or properly regulating freezer temperatures. An attorney can help you decide who should compensate you for damages.

Getting Started on Your Food Poisoning Claim

Successfully pursuing a personal injury claim from food poisoning requires the assistance of an experienced law firm. Food-borne illnesses are more than just annoying; they carry real health consequences. If you’ve been sickened by someone else’s negligence, call the lawyers at Nelson & Smith for a free initial consultation. An associate will meet with you to discuss the specifics of your case and determine your next steps. To take advantage of our risk-free case evaluation today, contact our office. Don’t pay the price for someone else’s negligence – get started on your food poisoning case today.


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