A bad experience with food poisoning is one thing almost everyone has in common. Most people chalk it off as bad luck. Others try to take action in the form of complaints to a manager, or reports to a city health agency. Yet, how far can a complaint of food poisoning actually go? What if the event ended up to have serious consequences that altered your daily life? In such a scenario you would presume that a legal cause of action exists. In reality, it is possible to sue a food provider over a case of food-related illness. However, these personal injury cases are actually more complicated than you think.
Defining Foodborne Poisoning
Before you can have an action at law, you must have a definable injury. Food poisoning consists of an illness that is caused by bacteria that is attached to an edible item. In general, a person may start to show symptoms of such illness within a couple hours of eating. It's also possible to experience symptoms several hours later. Once the illness takes hold, it can last for one to two days.
Food poisoning can cause different symptoms depending on whether it is viral or bacterial. Most people experience a loss of appetite and a loose stomach. However, the symptoms can also include vomiting, fever, headaches and body pains. Depending on the severity of these symptoms, a person can actually suffer both health and economic-related losses. According to personal injury law, such losses may be compensable.
Finding a Cause of Action
The personal injury concept of negligence is applicable to food poisoning cases. This is because an act (or failure to act) by the food preparer is presumed to be responsible for the illness. For example, a restaurant may fail to cook or store food at a proper temperature. Similarly, employees may fail to clean their hands or wash cooking surfaces according to the appropriate health standard. In either case, it can be alleged that someone failed to act with reasonable care, and this led to the plaintiff's injury. An experienced attorney can flush out the details to determine if a true cause of action exists.
The Problem With Food Poisoning Cases
Although there is technically a cause of action, these cases can be hard to prove. The main problem with these cases is that it's hard to trace the illness back to a particular food. Most people eat at least three times a day not including snacks. Considering this, you'd have to find the exact food item that made you sick. You will also have to prove that the food itself was contaminated in some way. Due to the critical timing of these issues, it can be very difficult to establish a clear line of causation.
This is not to say that food poisoning cases do not have any merit. Rather, it will take some detailed thought and reconstruction to determine the case's validity. If you have been seriously harmed by food poisoning, it may be worth it to explore your legal options.
If you need help with a personal injury matter, contact Terry Spencer PLLC as soon as possible. Personal injury cases are time sensitive. Get advice from an experienced attorney to get your case started.