A Houston Salmonella Poisoning Lawyer Can Help
Salmonella is one of the most common foodborne diseases in the U.S.; every year, hundreds of people in the country are hospitalized after being infected with it. In most cases, these incidents are caused by handling or consumption of infected chicken eggs, though cuts of chicken may also harbor the disease. The FDA estimates that about 140,000 people in the U.S. contract the illness every year, resulting in about 30 deaths. While proper food preparation can destroy the bacteria, during an outbreak the disease may be harbored in foods not normally considered a risk. This is almost always due to poor quality control or inspection by the food producer. Food safety is something that producers have a responsibility to maintain. When they don’t, their negligence can result in severe, even fatal, results.
Salmonella is a foodborne illness, so it produces symptoms similar to normal food poisoning. This includes abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever within a few days of consuming the tainted food. It may cause symptoms for up to a week, severely taxing a person’s system and dehydrating them quickly. For this reason, it can be deadly in the young and old and in people with compromised immune systems.
If you or a loved one has contracted salmonella after consuming food that was possibly tainted due to another party’s negligence or fault, you may be entitled to compensation through insurance or a lawsuit. However, Texas laws regarding foodborne illnesses are complicated; proving where fault for the outbreak lies is difficult; and insurance will try to deny claims or pay less than you deserve, so it’s difficult to fight for compensation on your own.
Fortunately, there is help available at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law. Our attorneys have extensive experience with food poisoning and product liability cases and know how to navigate the system. Let us take the burden off you by exploring all options and handling all negotiations and legal hurdles involved with getting you a fair settlement.
Our firm has over 35 years of experience helping people, and we will work hard for you, too. Reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable Houston food poisoning lawyer.
Call (713) 973-8888 Now.
When Should You Consider Filing a Salmonella Lawsuit?
Our food poisoning lawyers can determine whether you have a valid case.
Food poisoning is any illness that results from eating contaminated food or being exposed to food contaminated with bacteria, chemicals or other pathogens. It is a reportable incident and is tracked by government agencies to contain, prevent, and control outbreaks.
Only 0.002% of all food poisoning victims (one in every 128,000) end up being hospitalized. Generally, symptoms don’t present before a day or two – and often as many as four or five days – after the body has ingested the pathogen. 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 lawyers) the argument that you didn’t store the food properly or that some other avenue of infection is the cause. In foodborne illness cases, that lack of a “smoking gun” makes it especially tough to win a case or negotiate a successful, fair settlement. However, when several or many people are affected by a single outbreak of food poisoning, the cases suddenly become much stronger against the responsible party.
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. It can and does pop up anywhere and everywhere. And even though government agencies and the private sector work to control it, outbreaks of E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, and other dangerous pathogens infect growing numbers of Texas consumers.
Some of the pathogens that cause food poisoning include:
The type 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 serious food poisoning cases often result in death.
Salmonella is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. When a number of people are simultaneously injured by food poisoning, perhaps because they ate at the same restaurant or bought food from the same food stand, victims usually stand a much stronger chance of being compensated for all their medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other types of legal damages. So, if you have suffered food poisoning after consuming tainted food, you very well may have a valid case — if your lawyer can show that the food was the cause of your illness.
How Our Salmonella Poisoning Lawyers Fight for You
Food poisoning falls under the category of product liability claims, since the food you have been sold is a product that injured you. Under Texas law (Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 82), product liability is a strict liability offense. This means in some situations you do not have to prove that the defendant you are suing was negligent. It is enough to show that the product was defective and that this defect caused you harm.
However, depending on the facts of what happened, you may have to prove how you acquired the salmonella infection, furnish evidence, and show who was at fault for causing your injuries. At the same time, lawyers for the defendants will try to prove that their clients were not negligent and claim that you did something to cause your illness. Our attorneys are aware of this and will handle your case accordingly.
When you have the Terry Bryant legal team on your side, we will:
- Meet with you to hear your version of what happened, how you think you were poisoned, and who the at-fault parties may be.
- Determine whether you have a valid case and what it may be worth, so we know what kind of settlement to fight for.
- Gather evidence. We would ask you to save any food that you thought sickened you so it can be analyzed. We would get hospital and medical records with your diagnosis of food poisoning and the determination of what pathogens were involved. In some cases, we would conduct a Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoreses test, which checks the presence of bacterial genetic prints in the location where you were sickened and on other sick customers.
- Hire relevant expert witnesses. We have access to expert microbiologists and epidemiologists who can present scientific evidence as to the source of the salmonella infection.
- Handle all communications and negotiations with insurance companies and their lawyers.
- Build your case and take it to court and argue in front of a jury, if necessary.
Who is Liable for Salmonella Poisoning?
Our attorneys would seek all responsible parties.
Contamination of food from salmonella can occur from mistakes anywhere along the food chain, from growing to serving the food we eat. Product liability claims from food poisoning are extremely important because they ensure that an injured person doesn’t have to pay the costs resulting from the negligence of the companies who grow, process, package, handle, serve, and sell our food. By holding negligent parties liable, lawsuits can help bring awareness to the dangers of mishandling food products and prevent them from harming others in the future.
In investigating your case, our attorneys would focus on identifying all parties (the defendants in the case) who may have played a role in contaminating your food.
Proving a food poisoning claim requires evidence of the following elements:
- Duty – The party owed you a duty of care. Everyone in the “food chain,” from the growers to shippers to wholesalers and retailers, has the duty to keep people safe from foodborne pathogens.
- Breach of Duty – The defendant breached that duty by actions or failure to act and did something wrong with regard to food processing, preparation, storage, and/or handling.
- Cause – The defendant caused you injury through negligence or a willful act.
- Damages – You suffered damages as a result of eating the contaminated food.
If you’re not sure which food you ate was the culprit that made you sick, you may still have a food poisoning claim. In addition to tainted food, there are other sources of food poisoning that point to other responsible parties. For example, if the pathogen came from a sick employee, you may still be able to sue the restaurant. If it is discovered that the restaurant was grossly negligent — for example, if the restaurant has a history of health code violations or has not sent sick employees home when it knew they were ill — you may be entitled to punitive damages, which can increase the value of your case.
Damage Awards in a Salmonella Poisoning Lawsuit
Our Salmonella Poisoning Lawyers Fight to Recover All Damages
In a successful food poisoning product liability lawsuit, your attorney may recover an award, called damages, for the injuries and losses you have suffered. This includes an amount to compensate for your economic and non-economic losses, and, in some circumstances, there may be punitive damages as well. Damages may include:
Economic, or Special Damages: This covers your monetary, calculable out-of-pocket expenses for your medical, pharmaceutical, hospital, and rehabilitation bills, as well as your lost income from being unable to work.
Non-economic or General Damages: These are payments that go directly to you as compensation for the non-monetary negative effects caused by the illness. Non-economic damages typically include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of life’s enjoyment.
Punitive or Exemplary damages
These are damages awarded on rare occasions as a penalty to punish a defendant for gross negligence and reckless actions and as an example to discourage this type of offense from happening again.
How to Sue for Salmonella Poisoning
Food poisoning cases are complex and science-based. Therefore, we hope you will explore your potential claim with an experienced attorney. Here are a few tips that can jump-start your claim should you choose to pursue one:
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Report the restaurant to your local health department and ask that the matter be investigated.
- Report the matter to the restaurant.
- Save the receipt that proves you purchased the tainted food.
- Try to contact other patrons through social media postings.
- Get legal help.
If you have suffered food poisoning from grocery stores or other retailers, you should save your receipt and check the news for stories of foodborne illness in your area which may apply to you.
In all cases, if you believe you or a family member has suffered a serious foodborne illness in Houston or anywhere in Texas, the Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law firm is at your service 24/7/365.
Call (713) 973-8888 to arrange a free consultation.
Call a Houston Salmonella Poisoning Attorney
Salmonella Outbreaks Can Spread Rapidly
An example of how fast salmonella can spread is the outbreak that occurred in September 2021. Within a week 279 people were sickened, with 26 people being hospitalized across 29 states. By collecting food items from some of the restaurants where people ate, officials found salmonella in a takeout condiment cup that contained cilantro, onion, and lime. A CDC map showed the most cases in Texas and Oklahoma, and their officials believed the real number of infections is much higher than reported, as it can take up to four weeks to determine whether someone was part of an outbreak.
Unfortunately, food recalls are announced AFTER it’s too late for some people. 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.
If you or a loved one has been sickened from suspected tainted food problems, it makes sense to call a food poisoning lawyer right away, while evidence and witnesses can be found. At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, we will carefully investigate all the evidence involved to prove liability and file all the paperwork needed to bring a legal claim. We will be there for you, answering your questions and concerns and standing up for your interests throughout every step of the legal proceedings.
There are no fees to you unless and until you win your case, so call us today at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.