When Can Someone File a Food Poisoning Lawsuit?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Gregory H. Herrman with Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C..

When Can Someone File a Food Poisoning Lawsuit?
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Foodborne illness or food poisoning can occur in all kinds of situations; it may occur due to eating contaminated food at a restaurant, or from contaminated food purchased at the grocery store and eaten at home. In some cases, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim following a foodborne illness; however, the viability of a food poisoning case depends on a variety of factors and can be tricky to prove. If you or a loved one became seriously ill after eating contaminated food, reach out to a personal injury attorney to discuss your situation.

Food poisoning lawsuits can be particularly difficult to litigate and prove.

In many cases, a person may not begin to show signs of illness until days after ingesting the contaminated food. This can make it difficult to track the illness back to its original source, much less prove who was responsible for the contaminated food in the first place. With food often made from many ingredients, and each of those ingredients being passed from suppliers to grocery stores, to restaurants and homes, it can be difficult to identify when and where the contamination occurred and who should be held responsible. Additionally, many people find that the time and effort of a lawsuit is not worth the damages in a food poisoning case, unless the illness was severe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some of the most common and deadly foodborne pathogens are as follows:

  • Salmonella
  • Toxoplasma gondii
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Norovirus
  • Campylobacter spp.
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • E. coli

While many kinds of foodborne illness do not have serious implications for a patient’s long-term health, others can result in hospitalizations and even death. If you begin to feel unwell after eating food you suspect may have been contaminated, seek medical care immediately.

Some cases of foodborne illness may have more viability than others, especially in the following scenarios:

  • If the food in question has already been documented as contaminated by a government agency
  • If a class action lawsuit is already in motion regarding the contaminated food
  • If the connection is easy to draw between the contaminated food and your illness
  • If someone else fell ill from eating the same food
  • If the party in question was obviously negligent in their care or preparation of the food, leading to its contamination
  • If other kinds of food from the same supplier were also contaminated
  • If the illness was severe, requiring hospitalization, medical bills, and/or time off work

According to the CDC, the following symptoms may indicate a serious case of food poisoning:

  • High fever
  • Bloody bowel movements
  • Repeated vomiting, including the inability to keep liquids down
  • Diarrhea lasting more than three days
  • Severe dehydration (dry mouth and throat, dizziness when standing, little to no urination)

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the above symptoms after being exposed to potentially contaminated food, seek medical care as soon as possible. While most cases of food poisoning are not life-threatening, the dehydrating effects of foodborne illnesses can be particularly dangerous. Serious cases of food poisoning can lead to hospital stays, lost wages from missing work, medical bills, and even death.

If you or a loved one have suffered due to severe food poisoning, reach out to a personal injury lawyer to discuss the viability of your case and options for financial recovery.

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