Product Liability

Proving Sickness or Death from Food May Be Difficult

When you purchase food, you have a right to expect that it is wholesome and will not harm you. Food products are subject to strict inspections before manufacturers can release them for sale to the public, but this doesn't prevent food-borne illnesses from occurring. If you get sick from something in the food you purchased, you can file a personal injury lawsuit.

Prove That the Food Made You Sick

If you fall ill after eating, you might suspect food poisoning, but this isn't enough to file a lawsuit. You must prove that something contained in the food made you sick. For example, it might be a virus or a chemical from the manufacturing plant, or bacteria as the result of negligence in preparation. If you seek medical help immediately, the physician might be able to make a connection between the food and your condition, and document this connection.

Identify Exactly What Made You Sick

You have the burden of proof to show a court that something in the food was bad, not just that it made you sick. If you didn't eat all the food, for example, you can save it. A lab can inspect the food to identify anything in it that shouldn't be there. Usually, you must file personal injury lawsuits within one or two years of getting sick.

Connect the Problem to the Source

You must also link the pathogen in the food to the manufacturer or the restaurant. If you became sick because the food you ate contained a bacterium, such as E. coli or listeria, you'd have the burden of determining that it entered the food because of unsafe conditions at the plant or in the fields. If you get sick on an airline flight, the problem could be either with the company that supplied the food to the airline, or with the preparation of the food on the flight. Where the problem occurred determines who you can sue.

Different Rules Apply to Cruise Ships

If you become sick from something you ate on a cruise ship, you may be limited as to where you can file a lawsuit. In some cases, you can only file in the state where the cruise originated.

Objects in Food May Not Warrant Lawsuits

Finding a foreign object like an insect or a fingernail in your food may not be enough to justify a lawsuit. You'd have to prove that the object harmed you. If you claim that you were traumatized by the experience, you'd need a mental health professional to confirm it. Otherwise, the object must have caused you a physical illness.

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding personal injury and food-borne illnesses is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a personal injury lawyer.

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