Food poisoning, which is considered a foodborne illness, occurs when you eat food containing a virus or bacteria. A Centers for Disease Control report shows that each year, 48 million Americans experience food poisoning.
Some of the symptoms of food poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, and fever. While many people recover from food poisoning after a few days, sometimes victims are hospitalized due to its seriousness. If you or a loved one fell victim to food poisoning, read on for information about actions you can take against the restaurant involved.
Legal Grounds for Suing
If your poisoning was caused by food you ate at a restaurant, or any business serving food, there are any of three grounds under which you can sue them. These grounds are negligence, strict product liability, and breach of warranty.
According to the principle of general negligence, a business is charged with the duty of exercising reasonable care on behalf of their customer. In this scenario, the restaurant had a duty of maintaining a safe environment, producing safe products, and eliminating unreasonable dangers.
- A claim based on negligence may arise if the restaurant violates its duty of care through reckless actions such as storing food products in an unsanitary way or by maintaining a filthy kitchen.
- To succeed in a lawsuit against a restaurant based on negligence, you must prove that your illness was caused by the restaurant’s unsafe food. This is known as causation.
- You also must prove that you were injured or harmed.
2. Strict Product Liability
In strict liability cases, you have to prove that the food you ate at the restaurant was “defective and unreasonably dangerous.”
- You must also prove that this food was the direct cause of your illness.
- You do not need to show that the restaurant breached their duty of care.
- Everyone in the line of distribution beginning with the restaurant, retailer, wholesaler, and supplier can be sued under strict product liability for selling contaminated food if they are liable.
3. Breach of Warranty
In many states, there is an implied warranty that products should satisfy the ordinary consumer’s expectations of quality.
- When contaminated food leads to food poisoning, you can make a claim that the food was not up to the standards of an ordinary consumer’s expectation of getting non-contaminated food.
- Like a lawsuit based on strict products liability, in breach of warranty cases, liability may be applicable to everyone in the line of distribution.
Proving Your Claim
While any of the above grounds can help you pursue a claim against a restaurant for food poisoning, the hardest part is showing proof.
- First, you need to point to the specific food product that caused your illness. In cases where food poisoning takes time to manifest, you will have a hard time determining which food product made you sick. However, scientific testing can be performed to find the specific “disease-causing microbes” present in contaminated food and trace it to your illness.
- Lastly, you need to show that the contamination caused your illness. This is easy to prove by taking a stool sample tested for food contamination. If the stool sample contains the same “disease-causing microbes” found in contaminated food, you likely have a strong case.
Compensation for Food Poisoning
If food poisoning causes you injuries and illness, some of the recoverable damages include:
- Medical bills
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost income
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
While personal injury cases involving food poisoning can be difficult to win, a seasoned attorney can help you get compensated. A personal injury lawyer Milwaukee WI trusts can be indispensable for tasks such as filing the necessary papers in court, talking to specialists, gathering facts, and representing you in court. If you are a victim of food poisoning, you may wish to seek legal assistance to pursue a claim against the restaurant involved.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim, S.C., for their insight into personal injury practice.