Can I Sue a Restaurant For Food Poisoning?

Foodborne illnesses and food poisoning are the last things you want to think about when you step into a restaurant. Unfortunately, these occurrences happen far too often. Foodborne toxins or bacteria, like E. coli, Salmonella, Norovirus, or Vibrio, can make you terribly sick. If you happen to suffer food poisoning from eating at a particular restaurant, you may be wondering what actions you can take. Do you have a valid personal injury case against the restaurant? This depends on the facts surrounding your situation. Here are some things to know before making a food poisoning claim.

Liability and Food Poisoning Lawsuit

Food poisoning lawsuits fall in the category of product liability claims, where the notion is that you were sold a defective food product that injured you, leaving you with sickness. In a legal sense, “defective” food can refer to food contaminated at a farm or during packaging prior to arrival at the restaurant, spoiled food due to improper storage, or food that wasn’t sufficiently cooked to eliminate the common bacterium.

Most Common Legal Theories in Defective Product Cases

  • Strict Product Liability: In this instance, the injured person isn’t burdened with showing that sufficient care wasn’t taken by the manufacturer or supplier of the contaminated food in the making or distributing the specific food product. You only need to show that the food product you ate was contaminated, and it sickened you.
  • Negligence A negligence case requires that you prove that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care in the making or to distribute of the contaminated food product that caused you to fall ill. If, for instance, the restaurant knew that a specific brand of ground beef was recalled because of viral contamination but still went ahead and served it to customers, a negligence claim might be possible.
  • Breach of Warranty: Most states impose “implied warranties” or minimum standards or quality specifications that a food product will follow as the ordinary buyer expects. The contaminated food that led to the food poisoning could constitute a “breach” of the typical buyer’s expectation of non-contaminated food. Furthermore, the contamination might constitute a violation of the food processors’ express guarantees.

Potential Damages in Food-Poisoning Lawsuits

Legally recoverable damages in personal injury cases involving food poisoning can include: 

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional distress 
  • Pain and suffering
  • Out of pocket expenses

In a death resulting from food poisoning, the deceased family may bring a wrongful death suit against the liable restaurant. 

Significant damage awards, six-figure payments or settlements, are extremely rare in food poisoning cases. However, it becomes possible in lengthy hospitalization, disability and disfigurement, long period of illness, and death. If your food poisoning experience was limited to a couple of hours of discomfort or uncomfortable feeling, like diarrhea, a court might fail to see serious harm resulting from the food poisoning that warrants compensation. All in all, it’s difficult to prove a food poisoning claim but not impossible.

Class Action Lawsuits in Food-Poisoning Cases

If you’ve discovered that you are one of a large number of victims of a particular outbreak of food poisoning that made you sick after a dining experience at a restaurant, you can unite as a group and file a class-action lawsuit. If one is already filed, you might have the option of joining as another plaintiff after contacting the lawyers for the class.

If you think you’re a food poisoning victim and would like to pursue a personal injury case related to foodborne illness, come and discuss the matter with Attorney Wayne Resmini to help you get compensated. Let me fight for you. 

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