A foodborne illness is caused by a pathogen such as bacteria in contaminated, mishandled, or expired food. The food often acquired the pathogens because it was improperly prepared, stored, or handled. The pathogens can also be found on silverware and dishes.
Foodborne pathogens are so called because the food is often how the bacteria is transferred to a person. When a person consumes foodborne pathogens, they can experience symptoms such as:
- Gastrointestinal disorder;
- Infection; and/or
- Loss of weight.
Foodborne illnesses can also lead to long-term illnesses and medical conditions, including stomach and digestion conditions, and other illnesses affecting the organs.
Can I Sue If I Became Sick Because of Contaminated Food?
The company or individual who caused the pathogens to be present in the food or on a plate or cutlery can often be liable based on a negligence theory. To prove negligence, a plaintiff needs to show:
- The defendant had a duty to the plaintiff not to harm them (such as following restaurant food safety laws);
- The defendant breached that by serving contaminated food to the plaintiff;
- The defendant was both the actual cause and the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury; and
- The plaintiff suffered an injury that led to damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.
Who Can I Sue for Causing My Foodborne Illness?
Food products typically change hands numerous times prior to being served to the consumer. Thus, many parties can be liable, such as:
- The entity that provided the food, such as a restaurant or a catering company;
- The staff of the food provider, such as cooks and waiters;
- Food manufacturers and distributors;
- Food suppliers;
- Food shippers; and/or
- Restaurant public health inspectors.
In some cases, entire establishments can be sued if their policies or practices are not up to proper standards.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
When several people become sick as a result of the same foodborne pathogen, it may be possible to file a class action lawsuit for the benefit of all of these people.
A class action lawsuit is a lawsuit that filed on behalf a group of people who suffer similar or the same harm. For example, if the group of affected people, called a class, became ill after eating the same food product, then they can sue as a unit.
What are the Remedies in a Foodborne Pathogen Lawsuit?
Depending on the type of injuries and the facts surrounding the circumstances, various remedies can result in a foodborne illness or foodborne pathogen lawsuit. These can include:
- Monetary damages to compensate the injured person for financial losses;
- Product recalls of the affected food; and/or
- Loss of operating licenses for the restaurant or food business.
Compensatory damages will cover a range of issues, from cost of hospitalization, loss of income due to being ill, and cost of medication.
In some rare instances, a food company continues to produce and sell a tainted product knowingly. It is typically due to the cost of recall being too high or the incorrect belief that the amount of tainted product in the batch was not very high.
If that occurs, then the court has the right to also punish the defendant with punitive damages. While a plaintiff may request them, it is up to the discretion of the court.
Should I Talk to a Lawyer If I Have Been Injured by a Foodborne Pathogen?
Becoming seriously ill as a result of consuming food containing a pathogen can have a serious impact on your life. Such an illness could cause you to miss days at work and even end up hospitalized.
Contact a local personal injury lawyer about filing a lawsuit on your behalf to pursue compensation for the losses that resulted from a foodborne pathogen.