Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Food Poisoning?

Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Food Poisoning?

Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Food Poisoning
Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Food Poisoning?

When you eat at a restaurant, you generally trust that the restaurant will take all the necessary steps to prepare a safe meal and provide you with an overall satisfactory dining experience. Unfortunately, in some cases, the restaurant may fail in its duty of care to you. You may also have a high level of trust in major food companies and their packaging practices.

Unfortunately, as news stories continue to show, some pathogens find their way into food products. Often, these germs can make someone incredibly sick. News stories abound, as in cases like the Dole Fresh Vegetables recall, about mass problems caused by contaminated food.

If you have a case of food poisoning, do you need a lawyer? If you suffered damages from food poisoning, you might have the right to seek compensation for those damages. Handling that claim on your own, however, can prove incredibly difficult. A lawyer can offer the best support as you move forward with your claim.

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A Lawyer Can Help You Get Compensation for the Damages You Suffered

Food poisoning can cause a lot of damage. With a lawyer on your side, you may find it much easier to lay out the full damages you suffered and the compensation you deserve.

A food poisoning lawyer can help you understand the compensation you deserve because of the damages that went along with your food poisoning, including helping you collect any bills related to treatment or detailing the full extent of your financial losses. Take a look at some of the compensation you may deserve after suffering from food poisoning and how a lawyer can help you pursue it.

Medical Costs

In many cases, food poisoning will lead to extensive medical costs. Some patients may end up in the emergency room, suffering from dehydration related to food poisoning. Other people may even end up with a longer hospitalization. The average hospital stay in the United States costs more than $2,800 per day. That can mean very high medical bills for patients hospitalized with food poisoning for even a couple of days.

While most cases of food poisoning resolve within 48 hours, some patients, especially those with underlying health conditions, can have symptoms that linger and may require ongoing treatment.

For example, patients who experience an E.coli infection may have to deal with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which may require longer-term hospitalization and more ongoing treatment. Sometimes, food poisoning can also result in permanent organ damage. Developing a Listeria infection may also result in miscarriage or premature delivery for a pregnant woman, which can further increase medical costs.

Talk to your lawyer about the medical needs you dealt with as a direct result of your food poisoning. Your lawyer can help you better understand those medical costs you should consider as you put together your injury claim.

Income Losses

In some cases, symptoms of food poisoning can linger long-term, leading to considerable lost time at work. Most patients cannot go to work with acute symptoms of food poisoning, which means they will miss at least one day at work. Complications of foodborne illnesses can last much longer, resulting in serious financial losses for those that get sick. 

Patients who develop severe complications, including life-threatening complications from food poisoning, may also find that they have to miss additional time at work. Those lost wages can significantly impact their finances and may make it very difficult for them to keep up with their regular incoming bills. In many cases, that may mean severe, long-term financial struggles.

Talk to a lawyer about the work you had to miss because of food poisoning and how you can include it as part of a food poisoning claim.

Pain and Suffering

When you work with an experienced food poisoning lawyer, they can guide you through the claim process and provide you with more information about everything you have the right to include as part of your claim, including things like suffering you experienced.

Even short-term symptoms of food poisoning can feel highly unpleasant. Patients who deal with long-term symptoms or pregnant women who experience complications with the pregnancy may have even greater overall suffering.

A lawyer can help work with you to lay out that suffering as part of your claim and help you pursue compensation for those non-financial losses. While the funds from that claim cannot erase your suffering, they can help you deal with some of the negative effects of severe food poisoning.

A Lawyer Can Determine What Laws Affect Your Food Poisoning Claim

Food poisoning claims can quickly turn complicated. You may need to determine what regulatory body oversees your specific case, including state and federal agencies.

The USDA oversees meat, dairy, and poultry at the federal level, while the FDA oversees most other foods. When recalls occur, they are usually issued through the FDA or USDA. However, the CDC may investigate specific outbreaks and try to figure out how they occurred, including where the outbreak began.

State and local authorities oversee food manufactured and sold within individual states, including food from restaurants. 

When outbreaks occur, state departments of health or other agencies then investigate, often with assistance from other agencies. They then report illnesses and outbreaks to the CDC. 

For example, in Minnesota, the state Department of Agriculture oversees all food (except restaurants), including food sold in grocery stores or manufactured within the state. If an outbreak occurs, the state Department of Health will take care of investigations, then report them to the CDC.

This patchwork of regulations and agencies, however, can prove very difficult to wade through and manage, and determining which ones apply to your food poisoning case can prove complicated. Working with a lawyer can help you establish the chain of evidence that shows where and how your food poisoning occurred and what regulations apply.

A Lawyer Can Help Collect Evidence

The CDC may conduct a wide-scale investigation of where contaminated food may have come from, and the state health departments will generally take control of the initial investigation. But you may need to consult a lawyer to get more information about what specific outbreak or contamination may have contributed to your illness. Food poisoning can occur in a number of ways and for a number of reasons.

Contamination During Packing

Sometimes, contamination occurs during the food packing process. For example, the Listeria contamination of Dole salad products may have occurred during packaging, including any items packaged at Springfield and Soledad processing facilities.

Contamination during packaging may mean that contaminated food products go out to people across the United States. Sometimes, the packing company may have to take on liability for the damages caused during that process. The packing company may also bear liability when contaminated food products come into the facility and are not detected or treated properly before going out to consumers.

Contamination During Preparation

At restaurants and other locations, contamination may occur during the preparation process. Sometimes, contamination occurs because someone at the restaurant fails to wash their hands properly or take other precautions while preparing the meal. Other times, however, that contamination may occur because of contaminated food that has made its way into the restaurant.

A lawyer can help investigate where and how the contamination occurred. For example, a lawyer might have access to information that shows that multiple people suffered from food poisoning that came from the same source, which can help make the investigation process easier.

A Lawyer Can Fight for You

When you file a food poisoning claim, you will often find yourself going up against a large food company or  insurance provider in the quest for the compensation you deserve for those damages. Unfortunately, in some cases, the food and/or insurance companies may make it very difficult for you to get compensation for the damages you suffered. 

The Insurance Company May Try to Deny That You Suffered From Food Poisoning at All.

In the case of large-scale recalls or food poisoning that impacted multiple individuals, establishing food poisoning and the associated cause can prove much easier. In cases where individuals may have suffered from food poisoning due to poor food handling, it can prove more difficult to establish exactly when food poisoning occurred.

The insurance company may claim that you did not suffer from food poisoning caused by the establishment it covers or that you may not even have suffered from food poisoning. If you did not visit a doctor over your symptoms, it could prove more difficult to establish that you suffered from food poisoning.

The Insurance Company May Try to Deny Liability for Your Food Poisoning.

Sometimes, the insurance company may acknowledge that you suffered from food poisoning and the damages that went along with it but may not acknowledge that the company or entity it covers caused your food poisoning.

In cases where multiple people did not suffer food poisoning from the same source, it may prove more difficult to establish exactly how food poisoning occurred. However, state health departments can help investigate serious food poisoning cases, including clearly establishing where that food poisoning occurred.

The Insurance Company May Deny the Extent of the Damages You Suffered Because of Food Poisoning.

Food poisoning can lead to considerable damage. You may find yourself with high medical bills, especially if you suffer long-term trauma or damage related to food poisoning.

You may also find that food poisoning causes you to miss a great deal of time at work, which can substantially impact your income, sometimes over a long period. However, that does not mean the insurance company will automatically accept the full extent of the damages you claim.

Sometimes, you may find yourself dealing with immense losses and have few ways to receive the compensation you deserve. Working with a lawyer increases the odds that you will recover reasonable compensation for damages associated with food poisoning.

The Insurance Company May Pressure You to Accept a Low Settlement.

People who do not fully know and understand their rights often find themselves trapped by low settlement offers: offers that do not reflect their full damages. If you find yourself fighting with an insurance company following a case of food poisoning, you may think that the settlement offer reflects the most you can get, especially in cases where the company may need to make large-scale settlements for many people.

In reality, however, you may deserve considerably more compensation than the insurance company offers. A lawyer can help negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and prevent you from accepting a low settlement.

The Insurance Company May Cause Great Stress Throughout the Negotiation Process.

For many people, dealing with an insurance company over a food poisoning claim proves almost as stressful as suffering from food poisoning in the first place. Not only can it prove difficult to establish the compensation you deserve, but you may also have difficulty laying out all the details of your claim and getting the insurance company to take you seriously. Many people find that working with an attorney substantially decreases the stress associated with that process.

Do You Need a Food Poisoning Lawyer?

Russell Nicolet
Russell Nicolet, Food Poisoning Lawyer

If you suffered food poisoning and the devastating effects that often accompany it, working with an experienced attorney can go a long way toward streamlining the claim process and providing the necessary information to get the compensation you deserve. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to get more information about how to move forward with a food poisoning claim.