You can, if you wish, file a lawsuit over finding an insect in your food at a restaurant. However, just because you can sue the restaurant does not mean you will be successful. It is not common for an insect found in food to make a person sick.

More likely, the restaurant patron may be so upset by the experience that they wish to have the restaurant pay damages for their emotional distress. However, this type of claim may be difficult to prove.

What if I Suffer Emotional Distress from Seeing an Insect in My Food?

It is unlikely that you will recover damages simply due to the emotional distress of finding an insect in your restaurant food. Judges and juries are not interested in giving monetary damages in such cases where essentially, they were stressed out by an upsetting experience. Causation may be too difficult to prove in this type of claim.

It is also unlikely that a lawyer would take a case for emotional distress only, as the amount of damages paid would probably not make the case worth their while. A restaurant patron will typically need to prove physical injury in order to have a viable case and to recover for any losses they have suffered. Evidence must be given in order to show actual proof of illness or injury caused by the insect.  

What if I Actually Become Sick from a Bug in My Food?

This does make for a better case, because causation is easier to prove, but evidence must still be shown that this is actually what happened. A direct link must be shown between the insect in the food, and the restaurant patron suffering physical injury or illness. For instance, if the person was already sick when they ate the food, it will be difficult to prove the restaurant’s liability.

So, there are really three different aspects to prove here:

  1. There was an insect in your food at the restaurant you are suing;
  2. You became ill after eating the food with the insect in it (the food was eaten prior to discovering the insect); and
  3. It was the insect, and no other cause, which made you sick.

This can be difficult to prove. Not only must you provide evidence of all the items listed, but it is not common to become sick from ingesting many types of insects. There are, however, some bugs which are toxic if ingested. For example, the blister beetle has been found in packaged salads, and is known to cause illness in otherwise healthy people.

What Should I Do If I Find a Bug in My Food, to Help My Possible Lawsuit?

Due to the difficulty of proving this type of case, you will need to take steps in order to strengthen your claim. First, if you do find an insect in your food, you should take pictures of the food with the insect in it in order to preserve the evidence. You may want to notify the restaurant manager of what has occurred.

If you later become ill, you should make an appointment to see your doctor, in order to show evidence that you were, in fact, ill immediately following your restaurant experience.

Lastly, you will need to show that the bug, and nothing else, caused you to become sick. This is the most difficult part of the case to prove. You may want to work with an experienced attorney to help you in proving your case.

What Can I Do, Alternatively, If I Have Only Experienced Emotional Distress?

Since such a case is unlikely to succeed, and would not be worth much money, you may consider filing it on your own in small claims court to see if recovery is possible. This would also avoid the issue of your owing any attorney fees.

Certainly, it would be a good idea to report the matter to the local health department, in order to prevent the same thing from happening to other restaurant patrons in the future. You should also notify the restaurant’s manager, who could, at least, compensate you for the cost of the meal or otherwise provide compensation for your experience.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

As discussed, you are unlikely to bring a lawsuit against a restaurant successfully merely because you found an insect in your food. Suffering emotional distress only does not provide enough basis for bringing a lawsuit. However, if you become physically ill after eating the food in which you found the insect, you may be able to recover damages.

You should follow the steps listed above in order to assist in proving your case. Then, contact an experienced injury attorney.  An attorney in your area can help you recover your costs associated with the poisoning, such as lost wages, doctor visits and other medical expenses.