Food poisoning occurs when a patron eats food at a restaurant and the food that the patron ate gave him or her food poisoning. Food poisoning cases are very common. When a restaurant or other food distributor causes food poisoning, the customer may sue the food establishment under common law theories such as negligence or strict liability.
Proving that the restaurant gave you food poisoning is sometimes difficult in food poisoning cases. In order to prove that the restaurant or food establishment was liable, you will have to prove the following:
- The food that you ate at the food establishment was contaminated
- The food establishment served you the food
- The contamination made you sick
The difficult part in these cases is that the plaintiff must prove that they did not have the symptoms of contamination before they ate the food. Generally speaking, a person eats a variety of different foods per day and it would be difficult for someone to prove that the illness was caused by the food that was served by the restaurant. Many people in food poisoning cases get a stool sample to determine the cause of the sickness.
Food safety in the US is regulated by the following government agencies:
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
- State agencies in every state
Food poisoning is very common, despite its extensive regulation. Food poisoning can be caused by:
- Bacteria (such as E. Coli)
- Pesticides and herbicides
In a food poisoning or defective product cases, you want to include any and all parties involved in the chain of distribution such as the persons that distributed the contaminated food. The plaintiff who was injured or contaminated will need to trace the contamination to its source; anyone involved in the chain of distribution of a food product at or after the point of contamination may be liable.
The chain of distribution in a food poisoning case is usually:
- The food processing company
- The grocery store
- The restaurant
- The supplier or wholesaler of the products in the food
- Any distributor of the food in between
If you have been the victim of food poisoning, you may be able to sue the restaurant, grocery store, or food manufacturer. You can seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages during your illness and recovery, pain and suffering and, in extreme cases, wrongful death.
If you wish to pursue a lawsuit against a restaurant, grocery store, food manufacturer or other person responsible for your food poisoning, you may wish to speak with a personal injury lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights and options, as well as help you deal with the complicated legal system.