Can I Sue For Food Poisoning? 

 February 16, 2015

By  LMW Attorneys

Did you know that you could sue if you eat at a restaurant and develop symptoms of food poisoning as a result of the establishment’s negligence or poor sanitation?

The key to winning such a lawsuit, however, depends on whether you can prove that your illness was a direct result of the food you consumed. This can be tough to do, especially since food poisoning symptoms will likely not develop until after you have left the restaurant.

Before filing a lawsuit for food poisoning, here are some things you should to know.

Know What Made You Sick

If your symptoms mimic a short-lived stomach virus, a lawsuit may not be worth the time and money. However, a lawsuit may be worth it when the food poisoning is more serious and requires hospitalization. If this is the case, you should figure out what pathogen has made you sick.

Foodborne illnesses commonly result from E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio vulnificus, Hepatitis A, Norovirus and other organisms. Food poisoning can last anywhere from 24 hours to several months. While some viruses will produce symptoms within 12 hours, others can take weeks to set in.

If your doctor has diagnosed you with food poisoning, ask them to do further tests to determine which type of bacteria made you sick. Even if you cannot determine the exact ingredient in your meal that gave you food poisoning, knowing which microbe you ingested will help your case.

Save Your Leftovers

If you happened to bring home leftovers of what you suspect made you sick, do not throw them away. The food can be tested for the bacteria that caused your illness and it can be used as evidence in your case.

Sue if Your Illness Came From a Sick Employee

Most restaurants have policies that require them to send sick employees home and many state regulations mandate this. Whether your illness is the result of a pathogen that came directly from your food, or a sick employee contaminated your meal, the restaurant is responsible for your illness.

You May Have a Punitive Damages Claim

Punitive damages are those intended to punish a defendant when his or her actions are considered especially harmful. In a food poisoning case, punitive damages would be awarded to the victim in addition to compensatory damages, which would cover things like medical bills and lost income.

If it is determined that the establishment you ate at used gross negligence or intentional misconduct in preparing your food, you might have a punitive damages claim. But, again, you will have to prove it. If the restaurant has been previously cited for sub-par sanitary conditions, yet the same poor conditions still existed when you ate there, you may have a claim. You may also have a claim if the restaurant managers knew an employee was ill but neglected to send him or her home.

Suffering From Food Poisoning? Call Us!

We never expect a nice night out to dinner to result in pain and suffering. If you experience a serious illness as the result of consuming food, call Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A. immediately. As we have noted, it is extremely important to be able to prove in court that your illness was a result of food poisoning. Hiring an attorney will improve your chances of doing so.

Business liability cases require immediate action so do not wait. Call us today for a free consultation.