Anyone who prepares food for others, especially those who do so on a commercial basis, has a duty of care to make and serve food that is both nutritionally acceptable, as well as considered to be fit for human consumption. Any food that is contaminated in anyway such as with glass or metal particles, or with vermin feces or parts, or food that has been poisoned or improperly stored or prepared is dangerous to the health of anyone who would consume it, and is classified as not fit for human consumption. Sometimes it is not as obvious as to why or how the food has become tainted so a review by a trained professional may be required in order to assign liability.
Failing to take certain precautions and uphold this duty could result in legal liability for those who suffer harm. This includes paying for medical expenses, a loss of income, pain and suffering, as well as any future medical bills associated with the illness, or permanent disabilities.
Victims of food poisoning do not have to prove that the person who served the food knew it was harmful, however if any employee knew of a potential problem and did not stop the food from being served, this information could prove quite helpful in a food poisoning lawsuit.
When to File a Legal Claim, and When Not To
Just because you got sick from eating food that came from a commercial establishment does not mean that you have grounds for a lawsuit, or that you should file a lawsuit. If for example, you have experienced a day or two of intestinal or stomach problems that left you a bit dehydrated, but no worse for wear, you do not really have a viable claim. Even if you still wanted to file such a claim, the benefit would not outweigh the costs, and most attorneys would not feel as though the potential damages recouped would be worthwhile.
For the most part, the majority of food poisoning cases resolve on their own, without medical intervention in a matter of a couple of days. These types of cases, if you must pursue them, could be filed in a small claims court, to seek minimal damages. That being said, if you have been severely poisoned, resulting in hospital bills, a loss of income for a month or more, permanent health problems such as muscle or nerve damage, or even a death has resulted, you have grounds for a much more serious legal claim.
Actions to Take if Food Poisoning is Suspected
If you suspect that you have been poisoned by eating food at a commercial outlet, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. For the most part, symptoms that appear within a short period of time after eating the food are indicative of food poisoning. While it may be difficult because the restaurant will not save it for you, you should try to preserve some of the food if possible for use as evidence later. If it is found that the food poisoning is more serious in nature, the victim or his or her family or friends should contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in food poisoning as soon as possible. These professionals know how to secure evidence that will be needed at a later date, as well as obtain statements from witnesses and employees right away, before memories fade over time.
If you suspect food poisoning almost immediately after consuming the food, or even while still at the commercial outlet, you may want to talk to the employees yourself to find out if they knew about the issue, or have had other similar problems. You may be surprised by how much information you can obtain in this fashion. This type of information can help a great deal should you end up pursuing a legal claim. Not only that, anyone who was served the same food should write down exactly what they ate, as it will be important down the road and they may not remember later on. This helps to establish a strong case for the source of the contaminated food.
What to Do If You Experience Food Poisoning on Vacation
Should you fall ill while eating food on vacation, look for a personal injury attorney locally; do not wait until you are home. If you fall ill while on a cruise ship or at a resort, it is not likely that the staff or management will admit fault, and they will claim you are ill for another reason. That being said, if a large number of people on the same ship or at the same resort fall ill, then it is quite obvious the food is to blame. If the extent of the illness is not severe, a free trip, or free meals may be issued for compensation. There are no laws governing how much compensation should be given, however.
When to Hire an Attorney
If your case of food poisoning exceeds a small amount that would be handled in a small claims court, it is wise to contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in this area of the law. Since a restaurant’s livelihood is based upon their reputation, do not expect an admission of guilt easily. This is where an attorney can come in quite handy. He or she is skilled in documentation and investigation into these types of claims and can easily obtain required information.
If you or someone you know has suffered because of food poisoning and you suspect negligence has occurred, it is best not to wait to contact a personal injury attorney. More than likely you may be entitled to receive damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, and even loss of income. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means you have nothing to pay upfront, until the time your case is settled. You should not hesitate to take the proper steps to seek the justice you deserve. You are not only protecting yourself, but also the health of others.