You are out eating on the patio of a local restaurant. As you stand up to walk inside to pay your bill, you feel a sharp pain on your leg. You look down and see that you have a small puncture wound near your knee from an exposed nail on the edge of the wooden picnic-style table. You wipe the blood off with a napkin, put a bandage over the injury, and go on inside to pay your bill and continue on with your day.
About a week later, you start to feel a little sick. You are running a small fever, have a headache and the area around the wound you got at the restaurant is sensitive to touch. More strangely, you have noticed some odd muscle stiffness and a little difficulty breathing. You decide to go to the doctor and get checked out. After a few tests, the doctor determinates that you have a tetanus infection which could be fatal if you do not treat the problem quickly. In fact, reported tetanus cases have a mortality rate of almost 11%.
Tetanus is a type of infection caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani , which can be found almost anywhere in the environment, particularly in animal manure and contaminated soil. The bacteria can enter the body through any sort of cut, scrape, or puncture wound. The deeper the wound, the more likely it is that a serious infection will develop. For this reason, things like animal bites, piercings with improperly cleaned equipment, or injections from dirty needles have a particularly high potential for causing tetanus. Other than the symptoms discussed above, an infected individual may suffer from diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, sore throat, sweating, spasms, and a stiff jaw (tetanus is sometimes called lockjaw).
In the example above, the tetanus-causing injury could have been found to be caused by the negligence of the restaurant's owners or managers. If the exposed nail was something that should have been noticed and tended to before it could cause your wound, the restaurant may be liable for the costs of your injuries and damages. Whether or not there is sufficient evidence for legal negligence to be established is an issue that may require the attention of a legal professional. So, if you feel strongly that you have suffered unduly, you should find out if you are entitled to compensation.