Did you know that up to 48 million cases of food poisoning occur in the US each year? What’s more, these food borne illnesses land up to 128,000 people in hospitals.
The thing is, many of these unwanted events take place in food and drink establishments. Worse, dining in restaurants could put you at twice the risk of food poisoning than if you eat at home.
So, if you’ve recently eaten out, and you now feel ill, you may be wondering, “can you sue for food poisoning?”
We’ll get to the bottom of this burning question in this post, so be sure to read on.
Can You Sue for Food Poisoning?
Yes, you can sue for food poisoning, provided that you can prove where the actual illness started. Note, however, that restaurants are often the “epicenter” of foodborne disease outbreaks. For instance, in 2016, the CDC found 61% of outbreaks to have occurred in these establishments.
Just because you can sue a restaurant for food poisoning doesn’t mean it’s always a cut-and-dry process. You first need to prove that the food poisoning occurred at that specific restaurant. You also need to prove that they served you contaminated food, and this made you sick.
When Suing for Food Poisoning Can Be Simple
Filing and winning a lawsuit can be a bit simple if your case is part of a reported foodborne disease outbreak. This means that a health department has found the restaurant you ate from to be the source of the illness. In this situation, you’re likely eligible to sue for damages and recover compensation.
You may also have a successful legal claim over food poisoning if you got sick in the restaurant itself. Although rare, some cases of foodborne diseases can show signs in as little as one hour.
So, if you’re still in the establishment when the symptoms show up, you may be able to file a lawsuit. However, you still need to get yourself diagnosed and the food tested. These exams can verify what the source of the foodborne disease is.
You may also want to read the checklist here to learn more about what to do right after you get sick in a restaurant. This way, if ever you find yourself in the same situation again, you can boost your claim’s odds of success.
How Hard Can It Be to Sue a Restaurant for Food Poisoning?
Suppose that you don’t get sick right away but hours after you’ve left the restaurant. Unfortunately, this is the case for the majority of foodborne diseases. The symptoms of E.coli infections, for instance, can take three to four days to show up.
Suing a restaurant is still an option, but it’s now more complicated to prove their fault. This is especially true if a lot of time has already passed between your meal and the illness.
If you sue a restaurant, you can expect them to counter your claim by saying your illness is from another source. After all, several days have already gone by, so your disease could really have been due to something else.
Another consideration is that a lot of food poisoning cases aren’t severe or fatal. Granted, these illnesses can cause discomfort and even pain. However, most people who develop foodborne diseases recover after a few days.
A lawsuit, on the other hand, can take weeks, months, or even years. In minor food poisoning events, the time and cost of a lawsuit may not be worthwhile.
When Should You Consider Filing a Lawsuit?
There are at least 250 foodborne diseases known to humans today. Some cause minor discomfort, but others, like Listeria, can be severe and even fatal. At the very least, Listeria can cause high fevers, muscle aches, diarrhea, and nausea.
If you’ve had a severe case of food poisoning, then you might want to reach out to a personal injury lawyer. This is especially true if you needed hospitalization and faced massive medical bills. You being in the hospital also likely means you’ve had to miss a lot of workdays.
In such cases, it’s no longer just feeling discomfort or being “under the weather.” The severe foodborne illness already threatened your well-being and even your life. So, it may be best to talk to a lawyer to see if you can pursue a legal claim against the restaurant.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help?
If you think you have a valid case, you can seek the advice of a personal injury attorney for free. Most lawyers offer free consultations for personal injury cases. It’s during these appointments wherein they assess the merits of claims.
So, you can find out if you have a valid and meritable claim by requesting an initial consultation.
The attorney can also help you determine who else you can sue aside from the restaurant. As with many food poisoning cases, the fault can be within many branches of the chain of distribution.
For example, it’s possible that what you ate contained a contaminated pre-packed ingredient. Meaning, the ingredient was already contaminated before it even reached the restaurant. The fault could then be in the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor,
In the example above, you may be able to sue the restaurant and the other involved parties. That’s because they all had a part to play in your becoming sick. Their “defective product” makes them “negligent” as they allowed it to reach consumers.
Talk to a Lawyer as Soon as You Can After Getting Food Poisoning
There you have it, the ultimate guide that addresses your question, “can you sue for food poisoning?” Now that you know you can, you should speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the sooner the lawyer can determine if you have a potential lawsuit.
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