Is Pursuing a Food Poisoning Lawsuit Worth It?

We have all seen horror stories in the paper or on TV about the local restaurant overrun by pests or serving contaminated meals. It can be infuriating dealing with the carelessness that occasionally rules restaurant kitchens, and sitting out of work for many days is no consolation.

However, before filing a food poisoning claim against a restaurant, some perspective is required. While you were sick, did you require a hospital stay, or just a few trips to the bathroom? It may not be worth the time and money to pursue a claim if there were no significant medical expenses. If your illness was bad enough to require a hospital stay, a claim can help you recoup medical expenses and lost time from work.

What Are The Challenges Involved With a Food Poisoning Lawsuit?

These cases are difficult for the victim to prove because contaminated meals may require hours, or even days to cause sickness. During the illness’s incubation period, the victim will likely have consumed additional meals, making it difficult to pinpoint the actual cause. The defendant will be sure to point this out, and even if the victim has part of the meal left over in the fridge, the defendant will claim that the victim’s poor handling of the product could be the cause of the illness.

In short, it is difficult to prove a case if the victim does not have supporting evidence for their claim. A victim will also have to show that the contamination was the reason for the illness, which may seem superfluous, but is an important distinction in the court. The best way to do this is with a medically tested stool sample that tests positive for contamination. If it is present in the stool, you will stand a better chance of winning your claim.

What Can Help Strengthen a Claim Against a Restaurant or Supplier?

In general, a claim is much easier to win if the contamination is part of an outbreak tracked by government agencies. Every year, there are several small outbreaks of salmonella, E. Coli or other disease-causing microbes. These microbes often find their way into restaurants and can sicken dozens or hundreds of people before stemming the contamination. If you have been affected by a microbe that is part of a regional or national outbreak, it will be easier to prove your claim.

How Does Liability Work When Filing a Food Poisoning Lawsuit?

If you have strong evidence of your claim, the next question is “who do I file a claim against?” In most states, these cases are governed by strict product liability laws, so the victim does not have to prove negligence on the part of the defendant. Many states also consider contaminated food to be a breach of warranty, as it violates a minimum standard that restaurants and suppliers must provide to customers.

Anyone involved in the distribution of the product is liable for any damages. This includes the retailer (like a restaurant), the supplier and the processing company.