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Restaurant's Duty to a Choking Patron

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Does a Restaurant Have a Duty to Help a Choking Customer?

Businesses must maintain a safe environment for their customers. Courts have generally held that a retail establishment or its employees has a duty to help a patron choking on food. Courts have defined this duty in general terms often comparing it to an obligation to assist a customer who becomes ill or who is in need of medical attention while on the premises of the business.

For the most part, the general duty is to seek or provide medical attention for a customer within a reasonable time. Courts have usually held that the prompt summoning of medical assistance by telephoning an ambulance or other medical aid fulfills the establishment's or its employees' duty to the customer. 

Should Restaurant Employees Receive First Aid Training?

Courts take into consideration whether this requirement would create an undue burden on food servers or restaurants. Relying on statistics comparing the number of choking incidents, the number of meals served, and the widespread costs incurred by the food industry, courts have normally held that there is no duty to remove, to attempt to remove, or to assist in removing the food from the choking victim's throat.

Should I Seek an Attorney?

A personal injury claim can involve many complex issues in which your attorney may clarify and resolve. An experienced personal injury attorney will also assist you in defending your rights if a lawsuit if needed.

Photo of page author Kristen Johnson

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 11-14-2014 04:09 PM PST

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