An evening out with your loved ones can quickly turn from a wonderful time to a nightmare when you become suddenly ill. Food poisoning is an unpleasant experience that has the potential to put someone in the hospital. While there are laws in place that set a standard on the sanitary conditions to grow, manufacture and distribute food, sometimes negligence or carelessness can cause contaminants to be introduced, leaving the unfortunate people who eat it to become sick. Read on to learn about the circumstances in which you can claim compensation for food poisoning.
Liability in Food Poisoning Cases
Food poisoning generally falls under the category of defective product liability. There are three separate legal doctrines that help courts decide who is at fault for someone getting food poisoning from contaminated food:
Strict Product Liability
In a strict product liability case, the plaintiff is not required to present evidence that the manufacturer or supplier of the contaminated food was not careful when making or distributing the product. Instead, the plaintiff has to show that the food product they ate was contaminated and that the contamination was the cause of their illness. If they can show evidence of this, then the liability will fall on the manufacturer or the suppliers, depending on the court’s ruling.
In cases of negligence, the plaintiff must be able to show evidence that the defendant acted carelessly when manufacturing or supplying the contaminated product. The plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant had a duty to provide fresh and safe food, they breached that duty when they supplied a contaminated product, and that it was this contamination that made the plaintiff ill.
The most common cases of negligence often include restaurants, as it is their responsibility to ensure that all food is properly stored and prepared to reduce the risk of outside contaminants. This includes not storing vegetables with meat, cooking all meat to the proper temperature, washing their hands before preparing/cooking the food, keeping materials clean, and ensuring that all refrigerators are working properly.
Breach of Warranties
Certain regulations set the minimum standards for food products being sold in the United States. If the contamination of your product was due to a breach of these regulations or the company’s own warranty – such as a freshness guarantee – then the manufacturer may be liable. An example of such a breach is an expiration date that was labeled incorrectly.
Proving Your Claim
In order to have a valid food poisoning lawsuit, you must be able to prove the following;
- The food you ate was contaminated
- The contamination made you sick
This is easily done when there is already a proven link between the food that made you sick and a case that has been established by the CDC or government health department. If the food you ate is not currently under investigation, you can always have a stool sample tested by a health professional to see what it was that made you sick. If the stool sample shows contaminants that were introduced to your body by the food you ate, you will have a valid case.
Who is Responsible?
Responsibility falls to the party that allowed contaminants into the food. This party may be the manufacturer, distributors such as a store, or a restaurant. Failure to follow sanitation protocols is one of the leading causes of contamination being introduced to the food you eat, and the fault can potentially lie with more than one party.
Food poisoning is never a pleasant experience and can leave you feeling miserable and with a hefty medical bill. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Branch & Dhillon P.C.for a free consultation on your individual food poisoning case. Branch & Dhillon is a no-win, no-fee law firm. We are dedicated to helping our clients gain the compensation they deserve so that an accident doesn’t leave them struggling to make ends meet.