Food Poisoning and Personal Injury: When and Whom to Sue

Food poisoning becomes a type of personal injury case, and you can sue the company or restaurant that sold or served you the food. You might have a case against the supplier or farm that supplied the tainted food. Food poisoning happens when food becomes unhealthy because of bacteria or other contaminants. Food has to be stored under certain conditions and heated to certain temperatures to kill off bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

Causes for Legal Action

According to an article posted at, the symptoms of food poisoning include severe stomach distress, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and cramps. Food poisoning, which is also known as foodborne illness, can even result in death. The cases become more severe for elderly people, young people under the age of 5, and anyone with a weakened immune system. The body commonly fights off bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections in a few days. However, immune-compromised people might be unable to do so.

Victims of foodborne illness can file a personal injury lawsuit against the restaurant, company, food truck, and food supplier in some cases. The legal causes of action might include the following:

  • Negligence

Serving food that requires refrigeration must be kept at temperatures lower than 40-45 degrees. High temperatures create an environment where pathogens breed rapidly and cause food to “spoil.” Failing to keep cold food cold enough and hot food hot enough to kill bacteria and other parasites constitutes negligence. Restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, and grocers must exercise reasonable care in handling and storing food safely. Any business can breach this duty of care by keeping an unsanitary kitchen. Failing to prevent dangers like hot tables that don’t keep food hot enough also qualify as negligence.

  • Strict Products Liability

 Victims of food poisoning can sue for product liability in most states. In strict products liability cases, it’s not required that the victim prove a lack of reasonable care. Strict liability applies to products contaminated and sold. Examples of this type of case include buying a contaminated microwave dinner or contaminated shelf product like peanut butter.

  • Breach of Warranty

Most states have legally active implied warranties. That means that products would conform to minimally acceptable quality standards. Your cottage cheese might be too runny, but that’s acceptable. Cottage cheese that gives you the runs from food contamination isn’t. You could sue different links in the distribution chain for implied warranty breaches.

How to Prevent Food Poisoning

It’s not always possible to prevent every type of food poisoning, and there are more than 250 types of foodborne illnesses. According to a post at, you can prevent food poisoning at home by scrubbing cooking and food prep areas with antibacterial soap. Wash your hands after handling any food items. Keep raw meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs separate until adding them to a dish for immediate heating. Heat foods to 160 degrees for safety, and cool hot food quickly before storing it at 40 degrees or a lower temperature.

Compensable Damages in Food Poisoning Cases

Your injury lawsuit for food poisoning can recover expenses you incurred, damages for pain and suffering, and other non-economic damages. The compensable damages in cases of food poisoning include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages in product liability cases

Wrapping Things Up to Go

According to a post at, food poisoning cases can easily ruin a business. The average case costs between $3,968 to $1.9 million for a fast-food operation. Fast-casual and fine dining restaurants can expect to spend even more to mitigate the problem.

If you develop food poisoning, contact a Naples personal injury attorney to get your fair share of compensation. As a victim, your financial needs move to the front of the line.



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