Experienced Houston Food Poisoning Attorney
Food poisoning occurs today on an almost epidemic scale due to negligence at any step of the food supply chain: grocery stores, restaurants, farmers’ markets—even “organic” food growers and suppliers are no longer immune. Food poisoning can and does pop up anywhere and everywhere, and some cases necessitate contacting a Houston food poisoning lawyer.
Even though government agencies and the private sector work to control food poisoning outbreaks, cases of food poisoning from E. coli, listeria, salmonella, and other dangerous pathogens infect growing numbers of Texas consumers.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a severe case of food poisoning after eating tainted food from a restaurant or grocery store, you may be owed compensation. By speaking with our Houston food poisoning attorney at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, our legal team can learn more about you and your case.
Get help today. Call us now at (713) 973-8888 or 1 (800) 444-5000 for a free case evaluation.
What Causes Food Poisoning?
Often, food recalls are announced after it’s too late, meaning a significant number of people have already been sickened. In advanced stages, food poisoning can permanently disable and even kill—most commonly the very young, the elderly, expectant mothers, or those with underlying health problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, every year, 50 million Americans (one in six) get some sort of foodborne illness. And though over 99% end up with no worse than a stomachache and maybe a mild fever, 128,000 must be hospitalized and 3,000 die.
Some of the most common pathogenic culprits behind food poisoning include the ones described below. While some of these pathogens are rare, others crop up repeatedly in the nation’s food supply. Young children, the elderly, and people with underlying conditions may be most at risk for serious infections from these agents. However, they can pose a danger to anyone if consumed and infected.
- Salmonella can be present in raw or undercooked chicken, meat, and eggs and found in unpasteurized milk and contaminated water. Salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.
- Listeria is typically found on cold cuts, raw sprouts, smoked seafood, unpasteurized soft cheeses, and melons. This bacteria survives well in refrigerated temperatures and can cause headaches, muscle aches, fever, vomiting, convulsions, and other serious symptoms.
- E. Coli are typically harmless and live in the human digestive tract. But some strains found in raw meat and contaminated water can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and other symptoms.
- Vibrio bacteria typically live in coastal waters and can cause illness after consumption of raw or undercooked shellfish, such as oysters. Infection can cause diarrhea, cramping, fever, chills, and other symptoms.
- Campylobacter can be found in raw or undercooked chicken and raw milk. It can cause diarrhea, fever, nausea, and sometimes vomiting.
- Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause vomiting and diarrhea and symptoms of the “stomach flu.” Norovirus can spread through unclean fruits and vegetables and through general contact with shared utensils and other objects.
- Botulism (clostridium botulinum) is a rare but dangerous bacteria that causes botulism, which attacks the body’s nerves, causing difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and possibly death. Improperly canned, preserved, or fermented foods can breed botulism.
The types of symptoms and the severity of pathogenic illness depends on the bacteria that caused the food poisoning. The most common symptoms begin as a generally listless feeling, followed by abdominal cramps and an urgent need to use the bathroom. When diarrhea begins, it is accompanied by nausea and fever. Vomiting coupled with diarrhea causes severe dehydration. Left untreated, the most severe food poisoning cases can result in death.
Food Safety Guidance
In order to prevent and minimize the spread of food-borne pathogens, try following these tips when you’re handling food.
- Cook foods to the correct internal temperature needed to kill bacteria.
- Separate vegetables, fruits, prepared foods, and other ready-to-eat items from raw
meats, eggs, seafood, and dairy products.
- Clean your hands and utensils immediately after contact with raw foods and always wash your hands before handling food.
- Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly, and keep your refrigerator set at or below 40 degrees – and your freezer at or below 0 degrees.
When Should You Consider Filing a Food Poisoning Lawsuit?
Were You Hospitalized and Left Very Sick?
A successful food poisoning lawsuit must prove that a specific food purchased from a restaurant or grocery store caused personal injury. In many cases, food poisoning will be relatively minor. This means that, while you may have experienced symptoms of “stomach flu” and had to take a few sick days from work, you were able to get back onto your feet without requiring hospitalization. Such a scenario may be a best case when contracting food poisoning.
But more severe cases of food poisoning could require the help of our Houston food poisoning attorney who knows how to sue for food poisoning. If you were hospitalized after being infected with foodborne pathogens, you might have costly medical bills. Further, if the food poisoning caused significant bodily damage and had any lasting effects on your health, you might have a strong food poisoning case on your hands.
A food poisoning lawsuit can help you recover damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, and expensive medical bills.
Additionally, if a hospital stay or period of prolonged illness caused you to miss work and lose income, our Houston food poisoning lawyer will want to know about such quantifiable losses.
Were You a Victim of a Food Poisoning Outbreak?
Only 0.002% percent of food poisoning victims end up hospitalized. Symptoms typically don’t present before a day or two—and sometimes as many as four or five days—after the body has ingested the pathogens. Often, any evidence that can lead to the source of the pathogen (food store or restaurant) is gone by the time you become seriously ill.
This gives defendants (and their insurance companies and food poisoning lawyers) the argument that you didn’t store the food properly or that some other avenue of infection was the cause of your food poisoning. Often in foodborne illness cases, the lack of a “smoking gun” makes it especially tough to win a case or determine who is liable for food poisoning.
When many people are affected by a single outbreak of food poisoning, the cases against a responsible party suddenly become much stronger.
Often, when a number of people are simultaneously injured by food poisoning, perhaps because they ate at the same restaurant, victims stand a much better chance of being compensated for their medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other types of legal damages.
How a Food Poisoning Injury Case Works
A food poisoning lawsuit can be complex and highly scientific. Access to expert microbiologists and epidemiologists is vital to a food poisoning injury investigation. Typically, we need results from a blood or stool test to help prove our case. Often, your local city or county health department will be involved – sometimes after being contacted directly by your medical providers. Lawyers who represent victims must also understand how to leverage these experts’ scientific expertise as they press their compensation demands for injured clients.
Proving a food poisoning claim requires evidence of the following:
- Legal Duty– Everyone in the “food chain,” from the growers to shippers to wholesalers and retailers, has a very high duty to keep consumers safe from foodborne pathogens. Most of the time they do. But when they don’t, it can lead to…
- Breach of Duty – Someone within that supply chain did something wrong with regard to food processing, preparation, storage, or handling.
- Causation – Once the seller or processor is identified, one must prove negligence or a willful act by the defendant.
- Legal Damages – Compensation is provided by the guilty defendants for the contaminated food that the victim(s) ate that made them seriously ill.
How Do Our Food Poisoning Lawyers Determine Who Is Liable for Food Poisoning?
A food poisoning lawsuit may be considered a legal product liability claim. Essentially, consumers were sold a defective product that caused pain and suffering. Food could be considered “defective” if it:
- Was insufficiently cooked to meet temperatures capable of eliminating bacteria and other agents
- Spoiled faster than it should have due to improper storage
- Was contaminated before it arrived in a restaurant or store.
A food poisoning lawsuit might show that a defendant was negligent in manufacturing, supplying, or handling unsafe food. For example, if a restaurant knew that some of its greens had been tainted or recalled but served them anyway, that’s a negligent action that could result in a lawsuit if someone becomes ill.
Food can also carry an implied warranty, meaning contamination violates that warranty. For such matters, food poisoning lawyers can help pinpoint who’s at fault for food poisoning.
FAQs About Food Poisoning Cases
If you wonder about your legal options and what to do if you believe you experienced food poisoning, our attorneys have answers to your questions.
Symptoms of food poisoning can vary but commonly include upset stomach, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. According to the CDC, you should seek medical attention if you experience bloody diarrhea, a fever of over 102 degrees, frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down, dehydration, or diarrhea that lasts more than three days.
Our Houston food poisoning attorney can help you receive compensation for expenses and pain and suffering that resulted from food poisoning caused by a negligent restaurant, grocery store, or other food supplier. Recoverable expenses include compensation for medical treatment, lost income, other expenses, and pain and suffering. If a loved one died from food poisoning, wrongful death compensation may be available.
Contacting our Houston food poisoning attorney who has experience with and knows how to sue for food poisoning will be your best bet. Still, it’s important to recognize when and if you have a strong case. If you experienced significant pain and suffering with lasting implications to your health, had to miss work or otherwise lost income, and were left with expensive medical bills, you might have a viable food poisoning lawsuit.
Food poisoning cases can be complex, partly because defendants can more easily deflect blame in the case of a single sickened individual. An initial consultation with food poisoning lawyers is advisable. If food poisoning made you sick for only a few days with no lasting injuries or required hospitalization, you probably do not have a viable lawsuit.
Food poisoning lawyers are skilled at determining who is liable for food poisoning and finding the details needed to help you recover compensation. They can, for example, help to trace your food poisoning case back to a particular restaurant or grocery store. A food poisoning case coming from a Houston food poisoning attorney will also be more difficult for a restaurant or store to ignore, as attorneys can readily take legal action.
It isn’t possible to know how much a food poisoning lawsuit is worth without consulting a Houston food poisoning lawyer. An attorney will need to evaluate your case details in order to estimate your case’s worth. However, compensation is based on damages. Therefore, if you’ve had to face expensive medical bills, lost income, significant pain and suffering, and other debilitative effects and expenses from food poisoning, your case could have higher value.
The statute of limitations, or deadline, to file a personal injury case related to food poisoning is generally two years in the State of Texas. This means that claimants have two years from the date that their illness set in to file a case. *Always speak directly to an attorney for the exact deadlines that apply to your potential claim(s).
In cases of larger food poisoning outbreaks, there may be a class action lawsuit filed or in motion that seeks compensation for an outbreak’s many victims. Food poisoning lawyers can help determine whether your food poisoning incident was part of a larger outbreak. If there is a class action lawsuit underway, our Houston food poisoning lawyer can help you to determine if it’s advisable for you to join an existing suit.
Do you have more questions? Our food poisoning lawyers are here to help. Reach out to us and get answers today.
What to Do as Soon as You Suspect Food Poisoning
Food poisoning cases are complex and science-based. Therefore, we hope you will explore your potential claim with our experienced Houston food poisoning attorney. Here are a few tips that can jump-start your claim should you choose to pursue legal action.
- Seek medical attention for severe symptoms.
- Report the restaurant or grocery store to your local health department and ask that the matter be investigated. Here in Houston, you can call 311 – or report online here: http://www.houstontx.gov/health/Food/foodintakecomplaint.html
- Report the matter to the restaurant or store.
- Save the receipt that proves you purchased the tainted food. If possible, save the food and packaging. (e.g. Seal food in zipper storage bag and put in your freezer.)
- Speak to any family or friends that you dined with – to see if they were also affected, and if so, to encourage them to preserve any evidence in their possession.
Our Houston Food Poisoning Attorney Who Will Fight for You
If you or a family member has suffered a serious foodborne illness in Houston or anywhere in Texas, our experienced legal team at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law wants to speak with you. Our food poisoning lawyers know how to handle complex cases and ensure that negligent restaurants and grocery stores are held accountable.
A case of severe food poisoning can leave victims badly injured and dealing with large hospital bills, lost income, and lasting pain and suffering.
In such cases, our experienced personal injury attorneys can help victims recover the compensation that they’re owed. Call our food poisoning lawyers at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000 to learn about how we can help.