Food poisoning or foodborne illnesses are contracted by eating food that contains bacteria or viruses. Food can become contaminated if it is:
● prepared with unclean hands or utensils
● eaten raw
● stored at the wrong temperature.
Symptoms, such as fever, headache, vomiting, and nausea, can begin several hours after eating contaminated food and can last up to 48 hours. The best treatment for food poisoning will include the intake of a lot of fluids to rehydrate the body as it purges the negative bacteria.
Most cases of food poisoning, while unpleasant, won’t last more than a week or cause severe damage. However, serious cases do happen and can lead to hospitalization and intense injury. An estimated 128,000 people are hospitalized each year for food poisoning. The elderly, infants and children are all the most at risk for severe and dangerous cases of food poisoning. In such severe cases, it is possible to sue the party responsible for the contaminated food, whether that party is a restaurant, food company, or grocer. This type of suit may fall under “product liability” law, making the contaminated food a defective product. Fatal cases of food poisoning may call for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Lawsuits involving food poisoning can be challenging to win for multiple reasons. First, time may not be on your side. A food poisoning-related illness can take days to appear after the contaminated food has been consumed and by that time, it may be difficult to determine for sure what food item caused the sickness. And liability, a very important element in any lawsuit, can be difficult to prove. To prove liability, you would have to produce for the court the food you consumed and prove that it is in fact contaminated. The best chance of success with a food poisoning lawsuit may be when there are multiple victims. Proving liability becomes much easier when you have several people with similar illnesses who have all eaten the same food item from the same source.