Can A Restaurant Be Sued for Food Poisoning?

I recently fielded a call from a consumer that was hospitalized due to suspected food poisoning. The person reported that, hours after consuming a cheeseburger from a popular fast food franchise, severe symptoms of nausea and cramping overwhelmed her. She hadn’t eaten anything else that day, and the medical staff that treated her agreed that the cheeseburger may have potentially resulted in her illness. Naturally, she wanted to know if she had a personal injury case against the restaurant.

Can You Sue A Restaurant for Food Poisoning?

People get food poisoning all the time. As the consumer above, the question often arises, “can I sue the responsible restaurant?” The answer is always yes. In Florida, a restaurant can be sued for food poisoning under a variety of actions, including products liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. Anyone can file a lawsuit for food poisoning, but that doesn’t mean that they should, or that doing so would be a good idea.

In determining whether or not to sue a restaurant for food poisoning, one needs to consider two central questions.

  1. Can it be proven that the restaurant is responsible?
  2. Is it worth the time and expense to file a law suit against them?

Proving the Restaurant’s Culpability

In order to win a law suit against a restaurant for food poisoning, you will first need to try and prove that they are in fact responsible. In civil cases, the standard of proof is “beyond a preponderance of the evidence.” In other words, evidence must demonstrate that it is more likely than not that the restaurant caused your illness. Meeting the standard in this case may be more difficult than it seems.

It is hard to prove the restaurant caused your food poisoning for many reasons. First, the symptoms of food poisoning often echo the same symptoms of other stomach viruses such as the flu. This makes it difficult to determine whether it was even something you ate that resulted in your illness, let alone whether it was food from the restaurant. Possessing a doggy bag with leftovers of the suspected contamindated food source may help overcome this objection, but it’s still far from a slam dunk. Even if the food sample is lab-tested with positive results, the restaurant will still make the argument that the contamination occurred after the food left the premsises. This is an argument that may be difficult to refute.

The most effective way to prove that a restaurant is responsible for food poisoning is in a case with multiple individuals effected. The more people that became ill after dining at a particular restaurant, the easier it is to infer that the restaurant’s food caused the illness.

Is it Worth Filing A Lawsuit?

The next question to ask is whether it’s worth trying to sue the restaurant. Litigation is expensive, and it can be messy. It typically should only be considered as a last resort. Having established the difficulty of proving the restaurant is responsible, you should probably only try to sue if the severity of your injuries justify it. For example, if you had to visit the doctor or hospital but ultimately only suffered a few days of discomfort, it may not be worth filing a lawsuit. On the other hand, if the food poisoning results in permanent or long-lasting health issues, litigation is likely the victim’s only option.

What Types of Damages Are Available in Food Poisoning Cases?

In Florida, there a number of recoverable damages for victims of food poisoning. These include medical expenses, lost wages and income, out-of-pocket costs, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. If the victim died as a result from the illness, their family may also file a wrongful death action.

Has Food Poisoning Resulted in Serious Injury for You or a Loved-One?

If you or a loved-one has suffered from food poisoning due to consuming contaminated food at a restaurant, you may be eligible for compensation. Call a personal injury lawyer for a case evaluation. Collingsworth Law is available for free consultations. Call (321) 222-0234 to schedule an appointment or message us through our online contact form.

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