Were you diagnosed with Salmonella poisoning? Did the illness result in hospitalization, lost time from work, or other expenses? Has it been proven that the food source caused your illness?
If you answered yes to all three of these questions, a food poisoning lawyer with experience in foodborne illness claims could help you determine if you’re eligible to file a claim against the manufacturer of the food that caused your illness. An attorney can help you determine the monetary value of your claim. Here is a look at Salmonella cases and the factors that go into establishing the value of this type of case.
Which Foods Are Most Commonly Associated With the Illness?
The CDC explains that Salmonella may exist in a variety of foods, including:
- Chicken, turkey, pork, or beef
- Fruits, sprouts, and other types of vegetables
- Certain processed foods such as nut butter, frozen potpies, and other processed foods containing chicken
What Are the Symptoms of Salmonellosis?
The symptoms of salmonellosis generally begin between six hours and six days after a person has consumed food contaminated with Salmonella. The symptoms of the illness generally include diarrhea, which can be bloody, fever, and stomach cramps. These symptoms typically subside within four to seven days without treatment. However, the symptoms are quite severe for some people, resulting in hospitalization.
The signs that often lead an infected person to seek medical assistance include a fever over 102°F, diarrhea lasting more than three days, bloody stools, and symptoms of dehydration, such as reduced urination, dry mouth and throat, or dizziness when standing up.
While people of all ages can acquire salmonellosis from contaminated food, certain groups of people are more susceptible to severe illness, the CDC notes, including children under five years old, adults over 65, and those with certain medical conditions that weaken their immune systems, such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, or cancer.
How Is Salmonella Poisoning Diagnosed?
Unfortunately, many physicians misdiagnose salmonellosis as gastroenteritis without performing the tests to reveal the presence of Salmonella bacteria. To diagnose salmonellosis, there must be a laboratory test of a stool culture, blood, or other bodily fluid. After confirming that the patient suffers from salmonellosis, the healthcare provider must report these findings to the state health department.
The state health department will then attempt to determine the source of the infection by reviewing the patient’s food history. In some cases, there will be multiple people diagnosed with salmonellosis who all consumed the same type or brand of food, and the health department can link the cases and announce the outbreak’s source.
Who May Seek Compensation After a Salmonella Outbreak?
Despite Salmonella poisoning being a common cause of illness in the U.S., not everyone affected can seek compensation by filing a claim against the provider or manufacturer of the contaminated food that caused the outbreak.
Those who can file a Salmonella claim include those who have obtained an official diagnosis of salmonellosis, have had the source of their illness identified by the health department, and have incurred costs related to the treatment of the injury. Other factors include a person’s lost time from work and the emotional costs of acquiring such a severe illness, like physical pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Additionally, the family members of people who die from salmonellosis diagnosed and sourced through the health department can also seek compensation for the economic and emotional costs of their loss.
How Much Is Your Salmonella Case Worth?
If you attend a free case evaluation with an attorney experienced in foodborne illness claims, and the attorney determines you have an eligible claim, one of your first questions might be: “How much is my Salmonella case worth?” A quick search on the internet of the settlements in this type of case will often provide amounts ranging from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars.
In truth, there is no simple, standard answer to that question, as every case value depends on its unique facts. Several factors can impact the value of a claim, including:
The Severity of Your Case
More severe cases of salmonellosis will generally result in higher-valued claims, as they often result in a higher level of medical treatment. A study of hospitalizations for Salmonella poisoning revealed that the average length of a salmonellosis-related hospital stay is around seven days. Value Penguin reports that the average cost of hospitalization in the U.S. is around $2,873 per day, with additional costs incurred for diagnostic testing, IV fluids, prescription medications, and the services of doctors and other medical staff.
How Much You Were Making When You Became Ill
One factor in determining your compensation in a Salmonella poisoning claim is the earnings you lost when you were too ill to work. Those making higher incomes typically experience a higher amount of lost wages during their illness than those who are retired, unemployed, or working for lower wages.
Any Permanent Complications Arising From the Illness
While most people recover from Salmonella poisoning within a week, some will incur permanent injuries due to the illness.
As explained by Johns Hopkins Medicine, after suffering salmonellosis, some people incur a type of reactive arthritis known as Reiter’s syndrome that can appear weeks or months after the original illness. Reiter’s syndrome produces symptoms such as joint pain, eye irritation, and painful urination that can continue impacting the sufferer’s ability to earn an income and cause additional medical expenses for treating the illness.
Death Resulting from Salmonellosis
Several hundred people die yearly from Salmonella poisoning.
When an individual dies as a result of a dangerous product that a manufacturer or producer made available to consumers, their family members may seek compensation for economic losses, such as:
- Expenses related to the medical treatment of the illness, a funeral service and burial or cremation.
- The loss of services and financial support that the deceased provided to their family members.
- The loss of net accumulations to their estate that would have likely occurred had the decedent survived the illness and gone on to complete their career.
Additionally, family members can seek compensation for the profound emotional losses they experienced by their loved one’s death, including the loss of companionship, comfort, guidance, and support.
Liability Claims for Salmonella Infections
Salmonella poisoning claims can arise through several circumstances.
The claims that are most likely to be compensated include:
- When the poisoning occurred from food prepared at a restaurant. Like other business establishments, restaurants must carry business or property liability insurance covering these claims. The amount of insurance carried by the business often is dependent on the size of the business. For example, a claim at a mom-and-pop diner is often valued less because there is less insurance money available. Large corporations often own chain restaurants with more extensive insurance policies that can better compensate for larger claims or a larger number of claims.
- Cases in which a food product manufactured or produced by a major supplier is the culprit of the contamination. In the past, salmonellosis outbreaks have involved products provided by companies such as Foster Farms, Cargill, Peter Pan, the Walmart store label Great Value, and Hillandale Farms. These outbreaks often feature more claimants and claimants from multiple states, and more money is often available to settle the claims.
Do You Need an Attorney for a Salmonella Case?
Having an experienced attorney is a crucial ingredient for having a successful Salmonella claim. Many people attempt to seek compensation on their own after suffering a foodborne illness only to find themselves completely overwhelmed with how to begin the process, how to value their claim, or even who the claim should be filed against.
It is critical to hire a lawyer that is experienced in handling foodborne illness litigation to maximize the value of your recovery.
A lawyer with experience in foodborne illness cases can:
- Provide you with a free case evaluation to determine if you’re eligible to file a claim, as well as an overview of the claims process and an opportunity for you to ask questions about your case.
- Identify the liable party after the health department identifies the source of salmonellosis. Many companies involved in this type of claim are subsidiaries of larger corporations. Your legal team can quickly determine who to file the claim against.
- Gather the documentation needed to prove not only that you suffered salmonellosis and the source of the contamination but also the costs and impacts you incurred due to your illness.
- Establish a value to your claim based on the factors listed above.
- Negotiate a settlement with the at-fault company or its insurer that will fairly compensate your injuries.
- File a lawsuit in civil court within the statute of limitations for product liability claims in your state if the at-fault company and their insurer failed to provide fair compensation for the expenses and impacts of your salmonellosis illness. The statute of limitations is a legal deadline on claims that dictates how long the parties in a dispute have to file the claim in court.
- Advocate against the company and their insurance provider in court to obtain the necessary compensation.
- Collect your compensation after your case.
Affording an Attorney to Assist You With Your Salmonella Poisoning Claim
Many people who need help with a product liability claim after suffering a foodborne illness fail to obtain that help because they don’t think they can afford the services of an experienced attorney. However, this fear is unwarranted, thanks to personal injury lawyers’ contingent fee billing method.
With this method, you are not responsible for paying for the services of your attorney and legal team until your claim has been compensated, either through a negotiated settlement or a court award. You do not have to pay anything upfront and will not be billed when your case is active. Instead, you will enter a legal agreement with your attorney at the start of your claim to designate a percentage of your award as payment for their services.
If you recover compensation, you do not have to pay your legal team. Your attorney will receive your award and deduct the percentage designated for their payment before turning over the remainder of the reward for you.
The contingent fee method ensures that anyone who needs a personal injury lawyer can hire one, regardless of their financial status. If salmonellosis affects you or a loved one, contact an attorney to learn more about your next steps.