When you sit down to enjoy a meal at a restaurant or eat takeout, the last thing on your mind is the possibility of getting sick due to foodborne illness. Yet, unexpected food poisoning accidents and injuries can drastically disrupt your life, causing physical discomfort, psychological stress, and financial hardship that can take years to recover from.
At Hassett & George, we understand what you are going through and are committed to helping you through your sickness. Our skilled legal team dedicates itself to helping you get the justice you deserve and the money you require to recover, making the process less stressful so you can focus on your recovery. At the same time, we handle the legal aspects of your case.
What Is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning, also known as foodborne illness, happens when you eat food or have drinks contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins. It can strike anyone, anywhere, and at any time, and it usually causes uncomfortable symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. It can even lead to serious health issues such as kidney failure or death in severe cases.
There are several bacteria that can cause food poisoning, as listed on this helpful page by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Some of these include:
- E.coli – E.coli, especially E.coli O157:H7, can be in raw or undercooked beef, unpasteurized milk, apple cider, and contaminated water.
- Listeria – This bacterium is usually found in raw milk, cheeses (especially soft-ripened varieties like feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or Mexican-style queso blanco), ice cream, raw vegetables, fermented raw-meat sausages, raw and cooked poultry.
- Salmonella – You typically find this bacterium in raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, and their products.
Keep in mind that food safety is crucial in preventing certain types of germs from causing illness. Suppose you feel sick as a result of suspected food poisoning. In that case, the first step is to seek medical care, followed by legal representation if someone else’s negligence caused the contamination.
How Often Does Food Poisoning Occur?
Food poisoning is a common issue that impacts far more people than you might imagine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year in the United States alone, roughly 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness. That’s about 1 in 6 individuals. Furthermore, these illnesses result in approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually.
These startling statistics illustrate how widespread the issue of foodborne illnesses is. It’s essential to be aware of this risk, take precautions when handling and preparing food, and understand your rights if you get sick due to food poisoning. If you’ve experienced symptoms of food poisoning after dining at a restaurant or eating store-bought food, you may have the right to get compensation for your discomfort, medical bills, and other related costs.
What Are Some of the Symptoms of Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning can manifest with various symptoms, often dependent on the type of bacteria or toxin that has caused the contamination. As noted by the NHS and the CDC, these are some of the most common symptoms you might experience:
- Abdominal pain – You may experience pain or cramps in your stomach that can get more severe as time goes on.
- Aching muscles – Muscular pain can also be a sign of food poisoning, especially in the abdominal area if you’ve had a lot of vomiting.
- Chills – Feeling cold and shivery can be associated with food poisoning, as your body raises your temperature to fight the bacteria.
- Diarrhea – This symptom is usually marked by loose or watery stools, occurring at least three times in a 24-hour period.
- High temperature – You may develop a high temperature (fever) of 100 °F or above.
- Lack of energy and weakness – Food poisoning can leave you feeling drained and weak, disrupting your normal activities.
- Loss of appetite – You might find that you’ve lost your desire to eat, especially for the food you ate when you contracted food poisoning.
- Nausea or vomiting – Feeling sick (nausea) and being sick (vomiting) are often the first signs of food poisoning.
Remember, these symptoms can vary from mild to severe and may occur within a few hours to several days after consuming contaminated food. If you suspect you have food poisoning, you must seek medical help immediately.
Who Is Most Vulnerable?
While anyone can fall victim to food poisoning, certain groups of people are more vulnerable and may experience more severe symptoms when they become ill. According to the CDC, these high-risk groups include:
- Older adults – As people age, their immune systems may not respond as quickly or effectively to infectious agents, making those over 65 more susceptible to foodborne illness.
- People with weakened immune systems – Individuals with chronic diseases like diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, AIDS, or receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy have a higher risk because their immune systems are weak and unable to get rid of the bacteria.
- Pregnant women – Pregnancy causes changes in metabolism and circulation, making expecting mothers more susceptible. Moreover, certain forms of food poisoning can harm the fetus, causing severe complications.
- Young children – Children younger than 5 years are at a higher risk because their immune systems are still developing, and they can’t fight off infections as well as adults can.
Legal Liability for Food Poisoning Accidents and Injuries
When it comes to food poisoning accidents and injuries, understanding legal liability is essential. In legal terms, liability refers to the responsibility one party has in the event of harm or damage caused to another. If you’ve fallen ill due to food poisoning and believe a food product or food service caused it, you might have a legal case under product liability or negligence.
Breach of Warranty
Most states have implied warranties written into their business rules. Most of the time, it is assumed that a product will meet the expectations of a typical buyer and meet minimum quality standards. When contaminated food makes someone sick, the person who got ill can say that the food didn’t live up to what a typical buyer would expect from non-infected food. Like strict product liability, an implied warranty stays with the food all the way through the marketing chain unless a contract says otherwise or limits it.
Food poisoning cases can also go to court and make claims of negligence. To prove negligence, you’d have to show that the responsible party (like a restaurant or food supplier) didn’t take the care that an average person would have and that this lack of care made you sick. For example, a diner could be negligent if they didn’t store or cook food at the proper temperatures.
This legal concept holds manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers accountable for the safety of the products they bring to the market, including food products. If you’ve gotten sick due to a contaminated food product, proving product liability might seem challenging, but it is certainly not impossible.
Establishing a product liability case for food poisoning often requires proving that the food you ate was contaminated and that this contamination caused your illness. Evidence might include a positive test for foodborne pathogens or showing a clear link between the food and your illness (for instance, if multiple people who ate the same product also fell ill).
Strict Product Liability
Most states have strict product liability in some manner. When food is contaminated, the person suing must show that the food served at the restaurant or bought at the store was defective and dangerous beyond what they would expect. They also have to show that the bad food that was unsafe to eat caused the illness.
However, you don’t have to prove a lack of reasonable care. This is the significant difference between strict product liability and negligence. Under strict product responsibility, a business that sells contaminated food can be held responsible for it. In fact, you could sue anyone in the distribution process, including the food distributor, retailer, wholesaler, and manufacturer.
Experienced Connecticut Food Injury Lawyers
At Hassett & George, we understand the unique challenges and intricacies associated with food poisoning accidents and injuries. Our seasoned team of Connecticut food injury lawyers is well-versed in the complexities of food safety regulations and the legal frameworks that surround foodborne illnesses. We’ve built a solid track record of getting justice for victims of food poisoning accidents, thanks to our deep knowledge, sharp litigation skills, and strong commitment to our clients.
When you choose to work with us, you’ll receive top-tier legal representation and compassionate support at every step of the process. We dedicate ourselves to easing the burden that comes with recovering from a foodborne illness. Our team will work tirelessly to hold any negligent parties accountable and help you get the compensation you deserve. Trust Hassett & George to stand by your side, advocating for you with determination and integrity throughout your journey toward justice and recovery. We encourage you to reach out and contact us for a consultation today.