Everybody loves to go out to dinner. You dress up, get in the car, and pick your favorite restaurants. It’s a great way to spend a Friday or Saturday night. You peruse the menu and pick something that looks delicious. You enjoy an appetizer, entrée, and even splurge on dessert. You drive home and go to bed thankful for an enjoyable night out. The problems start four hours later when you are awoken with terrible cramping in your stomach. You spend the next couple of hours in the restroom feeling ill. You are afraid you may be suffering from food poisoning.
In most cases, food poisoning only lasts a few hours. You suffer through it and pray for the agony to end. However, there are times when food poisoning is very serious. You may have to go to the hospital. You may even be admitted. Food poisoning can cause some pretty serious injuries. If you have been a victim of food poisoning, you may need to contact a Crestview personal injury lawyer.
This blog post will help you answer the question, “Can you sue a food establishment for food poisoning?”
First of all, what exactly is food poisoning?
Food poisoning is defined as the result of eating contaminated, spoiled, or toxic food. Food poisoning is not an inconspicuous ailment, and its symptoms tend to manifest themselves within hours of ingesting the contaminated food. Those who suffer from food poisoning are likely to experience abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a combination of any of these. Loss of appetite, mild fever, weakness, and headaches are also common symptoms when you are suffering from food poisoning. Needless to say, getting food poisoning is not a pleasant experience. However, it is not at all an uncommon situation to find yourself in. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), an estimated 48 million cases of food poisoning are reported in the United States every year.
There are also factors that put you more at risk of getting food poisoning. These are:
- Pregnancy – the changes in a woman’s metabolism and other systems put her at greater risk for contracting foodborne illnesses;
- Age - children under five (5) and adults over the age of sixty-five (65) have been found to be more susceptible to food poisoning. Younger children are at-risk as their immune systems have not yet developed, thus, are not able to tolerate contaminants as well as an adult can. On the other hand, the elderly may have weaker immune systems as well by reason of their age; and
- People who are immunocompromised by reason of illness and medical treatments.
These people have been found to be at higher risk for illnesses caused by contaminated food, and the effects on them might be more severe than on the rest of us.
All things considered, you can definitely sue a restaurant or food establishment for food poisoning because of the inconvenience caused.
What to do if you have food poisoning?
Once you do find yourself in such an unfortunate situation, you need to take care of yourself. First, you need to take a look at the symptoms you are exhibiting and how quickly they started from the time of ingestion. If you are experiencing abdominal cramping, you might want to try some over-the-counter medication for that first.
However, if your symptoms show no signs of subsiding or have in fact gotten worse despite the medication, then it might be time to consult with your family doctor or go to the emergency room to get yourself checked out by a physician.
If you are experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, or in some cases, a combination of both, you might also want to start with some over-the-counter medications to combat these symptoms and ease the discomfort. Also, be mindful of your hydration. As you purge the toxins from your body by way of throwing up and defecating, you tend to lose much of the water content and electrolytes in your body and this could lead to dehydration. Always keep a bottle of sports drink or fruit juice close by. You may also want to try ginger ale to keep nausea at bay.
When you are experiencing the above mentioned symptoms, the last thing on your mind is ingesting more food. It’s only natural to be turned off by the thought of food after just purging throwing up and dealing with a stomach ache. However, you do still need to eat. Limit yourself to light and easily digestible foods such as crackers, porridge, and other light soups, fruits and boiled vegetables, or plain toasted bread. You will want to avoid dairy, spicy foods, and fatty foods as these may exacerbate the condition you are in.
Once you are better, you will want to call a personal injury lawyer in order for you to assess how much damages you may claim from the restaurant that caused your food poisoning
Proving Causation for Food Poisoning in Crestview is Not Easy
Cases involving food poisoning can be very tricky. You not only have to prove that you were in fact sick, but you also have to prove that your illness really was caused by certain food and that food came from the establishment that you are now making a claim against. Food poisoning cases can be very difficult to prove, and this is why it is important that you have an experienced personal injury attorney in Crestview handle your case. Some of the most common causes of food poisoning include:
- Bacteria – These are the most common causes of food poisoning, and it could be because of improper handling and preparation of the food. It could also be because of the lack of proper hygienic practices by those handling the ingredients. You may suffer from different symptoms depending on what bacteria actually caused the poisoning. Bacteria and viruses can be transferred to your food from restaurant employees. They can also be transferred directly to you from a server or busboy who is carrying the virus. Some of the more common bacterial causes of food poisoning are e. coli, listeria monocytogenes, salmonella, campylobacter, clostridium botulinum, staphylococcus aureus, shigella, and vibrio vulnificus. It is very likely that you have heard of salmonella before. This is because it is the leading bacterial cause of food poisoning in the United States. According to the Food and Drug Administration or FDA, there are an estimated 1,350,000 cases of food poisoning is caused by salmonella. 26,600 of these were cases of hospitalization because of food poisoning.
- Viruses – viral food poisoning is also a possibility, and more serious cases of viral food poisoning can actually be fatal. Once again, this can be traced to improper handling and preparation of the food just like in cases of bacterial food poisoning. Norovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus, sapovirus, and the hepatitis A virus can call be transmitted via the food you consume. Around 21 million cases of vomiting and diarrhea from gastroenteritis, which is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines, are caused by the norovirus according to the CDC. Because excessive vomiting and diarrhea can lead to extreme dehydration, you have to be careful, as this can turn serious very quickly.
- Parasites – You may remember this term from middle-school science class. Parasites basically get their nourishment and protection from other sources called a host. You could eat rare beef and end up getting sick from a parasite that was inside the cow. Getting food poisoning because of parasites is not as common as bacterial food-borne illnesses, it is just as serious. Some of the more likely suspects for parasitic food poisoning include toxoplasma gondii, giardia lamblia, tapeworms, cryptosporidium, ascaris lumbricoides, and flukes, pinworms, and trichinella. What makes your situation considered food poisoning can be attributed to parasites being more dangerous than bacterial food poisoning. This is because their symptoms don’t always manifest themselves immediately the way symptoms from bacterial or viral food poisoning do. In fact, parasites can inhabit your digestive system and go unnoticed for many years.
- Mold, Toxins, and Contaminants – A lot of restaurant food poisoning cases are caused by contaminants and mold. Not all restaurants are kept clean and safe. If you ever look at the kitchen in some of your favorite restaurants, you may never eat out again.
- Allergens – A lot of foods contain ingredients that people are allergic to. You may be allergic to nuts or shellfish. If a waiter or chef mistakenly tells you that your dish contains these ingredients, you could end up in the hospital. While there are establishments that take the precaution of warning their patrons that certain dishes on their menu may contain common allergens such as peanuts and seafood, most still do not.
How long can I sue a restaurant for food poisoning?
Your Crestview personal injury lawyer is probably going to have to hire experts to prove that the defendant caused your food poisoning. Because this can get very expensive, it’s always a good idea to try to settle your case. Neither the restaurant nor your attorney wants to go to court, as such a case might paint their restaurant in a negative light. This could mean bad publicity for the establishment, and bad publicity would almost certainly mean a dramatic decrease in their diners and income. This is why most personal injury cases do settle. It will be hard to prove the defendant caused your food poisoning, but at the same time, it could be just as hard for the defendant to prove they did not.
In other words, you can only answer the question, “How long can I sue a restaurant for food poisoning?
The answer will be: it depends. It depends on the volume of evidence gathered to prove your case, and it will also depend on their current audience.
What Damages are Associated with a Food Poisoning Claim?
If you file a claim for food poisoning, you are going to want to be compensated for your injuries of course. Although one may think that food poisoning is just a minor injury, there can be more severe cases, as mentioned above, and its implications can be more serious. You may need to get surgery, as in cases involving parasites that have taken up residence in your digestive tract or stay in the hospital for days or even weeks. Depending on the type of contamination, you could be sick for quite some time. Your personal injury lawyer is going to demand that you paid for your injuries.
Damages for a food poisoning claim may include the following:
- Medical bills – In this day and age, getting treated for even the most minor thing can be quite expensive. Your personal injury lawyer is going to demand that you be compensated for all medical bills caused by your food poisoning. This includes past and present medical bills as well as future bills. If this ever happens to you, be sure to present your attorney with proper documentation of your illness. This may include receipts for your hospital stay, your physician’s notes, and prescription, as well as receipts for all the medicine you had to buy to treat your ailment.
- Lost wages – Recovering from a case of food poisoning can take some time especially if yours is more serious. If you miss time from work because of your food poisoning, you should be compensated for this. Your Crestview personal injury attorney will make sure this happens.
- Pain and Suffering – In minor cases, it will be a real stretch to argue pain and suffering. If you are only sick for a few hours, should you really be filing a legal claim in the first place? However, if you sustain serious and prolonged injuries, you may be entitled to pain and suffering.
Your Crestview personal injury attorney will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. He will try to negotiate a settlement with the defendant or his insurance company.
Contact a Personal Injury Law Firm in Crestview Today
If you or a loved one have suffered food poisoning, you need to contact a personal injury law firm in Crestview immediately. Food poisoning is very short-lived. You don’t want to wait weeks or months to report it to the restaurant. You want to report it immediately. You also want to make sure you go to the hospital so you can document your injuries.
Contact your personal injury law firm today to schedule your initial consultation. It is absolutely FREE and you pay nothing until you settle your case. You can bet the restaurant will have an attorney working for it. You need to make sure you have one working for you!