Contracting a foodborne illness can be a personal injury case. More specifically, these matters fall under product liability laws. They involve food (a product) causing illness (injury) to a consumer.
Although you can pursue compensation after getting food poisoning, the specifics of your situation will determine whether legal action is worthwhile. Many cases of food poisoning are minor, with the injured party needing only a couple of days to a week or so to recover. However, other instances can be severe, leading to serious injury or, in some situations, death.
According to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 48 million people contract a foodborne disease yearly. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.
What Is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning is caused when a person eats contaminated food. Generally, food becomes contaminated when not properly handled, stored, or prepared. Negligent practices engaged in by the farm, grocery store, restaurant, or other food companies can result in bacteria or viruses tainting the product.
The CDC identifies the following as common pathogens leading to food poisoning resulting in hospitalization or death:
- Campylobacter spp.
- Toxoplasma gondii
- E. coli
- Listeria monocytogenes
Foodborne illness symptoms typically occur within a few hours or a couple of days after consuming the tainted food.
According to the Mayo Clinic, food poisoning usually causes one or more of the following:
- Bloody stools
- Abdominal pain or cramps
Moderate symptoms may not be enough to justify a product liability lawsuit. However, illness requiring hospitalization or extensive medical treatment may warrant legal action.
How Do You Prove Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning cases can be complex and challenging. To pursue compensation, you must prove that a food supplier, be it a restaurant, store, or farm, was negligent, causing contamination that led to your illness.
Four elements required to establish negligence include:
- Duty of care: The responsible party was expected to act in a way that prevented injury or illness.
- Breach of duty of care: The responsible party acted below the expected standards.
- Injury: The injured party became ill.
- Causation: The injured party’s illness resulted from the responsible party’s breach of duty of care.
Proving negligence can be difficult because foodborne illness symptoms don’t usually show up until a couple of days after eating the product. Thus, the responsible party may raise the counterargument that any number of things you had contact with could have caused your illness.
You might have a more substantial case if a government agency recognized that the food you consumed was contaminated or widespread illness was linked to the particular food. Still, absent this type of information, you may be able to establish a connection between what you ate and your resulting serious illness.
If you believe that you suffered food poisoning, it’s important to:
- Get medical attention right away,
- Preserve a sample of the food you consumed (if possible),
- Retain proof of purchase (receipts), and
- Speak with a personal injury attorney.
Pursuing a lawsuit for food poisoning can help you obtain the compensation you need to cover losses and expenses arising from your injury.
For instance, you may be able to get financial recovery for:
- Medical costs
- Hospital bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Reach Out to Bertram & Graf, L.L.C.
If you suffered a serious illness because of another party’s negligence, speak with our Kansas City team about your case. We have extensive experience fighting for clients harmed by defective products and are ready to stand up for you.
To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at (888) 398-2277 or contact us online today.