When people hear about food poisoning, they often think of an unpleasant day at home close to the toilet and suffering through stomach pain and fever, but without any serious side effects. While most food poisoning cases are not life-threatening and do not even cause long-term serious injury, some cases can be very serious and offer complications that can even be fatal in some people. The causes for various bacterial and viral food-borne illnesses are varied, but if you suffer from injury due to food poisoning, it might be worth pursuing a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages.
When is a lawsuit worth the trouble?
For a simple stomach bug caused by infections like staphylococcus, long-lasting complications are few, and even though the discomfort is severe, seeking for damages would be costly considering the short duration of the infection. However, some other forms of food illness that are worth the legal trouble of a lawsuit include the following:
- listeria infections. These can cause meningitis in those who have lowered immune response. If pregnant women are infected, the baby is born with the infection, and the chance of death in infected newborns can be as high as 50%.
- campylobacter enteritis. This type of poisoning takes two weeks to clear your system, which means two weeks of lost wages. The inflammation of the digestive tract can also lead to the development of ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition that significantly impacts overall health.
- E. coli. In some cases, those with E. coli infections can develop a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS can cause brain damage, permanent renal damage, with about 50% of children needing dialysis, and in some cases, it can also damage the pancreas, leading to the development of diabetes or similar glucose storage disorders.
When is a lawsuit valid?
Unfortunately, some food poisoning cases can be difficult to pinpoint the source. Often, food poisoning can be caused by your own neglect in properly storing, cooking, or cleaning your food. If you are certain that you developed food poisoning from a product defect or from a bad meal at a restaurant, you will need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you contracted the illness due to the negligence of the company who prepared, packaged, or served the food. Generally, food poisoning cases fall under defective product liability, so you should consult with a personal injury lawyer about your specific case to see if has a strong chance of being upheld in court.
What does it take to win?
There are some things you can do to prove that the responsible party is guilty. These include the following:
- Finding other people who ate at the restaurant or bought the same kind of food at the same time that you did. For example, if you suspect that you contracted listeria from unwashed lettuce in a restaurant salad, other people who ate the salad should be sick as well. Listeria often takes a long time (months) to manifest, so having other people who also got sick in the same time frame is very helpful.
- Getting tested. You cannot prove that the source of your illness came from food poisoning unless you have a laboratory test. This means that you will need to have been proactive enough during the initial stages of your symptoms to see the doctor and get a stool sample. If you were not tested, but are now suffering characteristic complications, you should at least have a doctor testify on your behalf.
- Finding faults. Grocery stores may not store things at the right temperature, slaughterhouses may have terribly unhygienic butchering processes, or restaurants may not store food correctly. Hiring a private investigator or getting employees to testify to the nature of the environment can help to suggest that the company you are suing should be at least partially responsible for your injuries on the basis of negligence.
For more information and options, talk with a personal injury lawyer in your area, such as those at GSJones Law Group, P.S..