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Liability for Foodborne Illnesses

Liability for Foodborne Illnesses

Date: June 19, 2018

While many people know that food poisoning can be extremely uncomfortable, few are aware how prevalent it is, or how dangerous it can be. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as 128,000 people are admitted to the hospital every year complaining of food poisoning. What’s even more alarming is that this statistic doesn’t even take into account the number of people who have food poisoning, but don’t go to the hospital, a number that could be as high as nearly 50 million people. While not all instances of food poisoning can be linked to a single vendor, restaurant, or manufacturer, an alarming number of outbreaks can be attributed to the negligence of these types of entities, so if you were recently diagnosed with food poisoning, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.

Defining Foodborne Illness

Foodborne illnesses are caused by consuming food that has been contaminated with certain types of viruses, bacteria, or parasites. In most cases, bacteria is spread through the improper preparation, cooking, and storing of meat, eggs, and other animal products. Similarly, failing to clean or refrigerate certain food products can also promote the growth of the following dangerous bacteria, parasites, and viruses:

  • Salmonella;
  • E. coli;
  • Norovirus;
  • Clostridium botulinum (botulism);
  • Listeria;
  • Campylobacter; and
  • Giardia.

When ingested, these kinds of bacteria can cause serious illness characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • High fever;
  • Diarrhea; and
  • Stomach cramps.

While these symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, they are not usually deadly, although certain individuals are at risk of suffering from more serious problems like dehydration. At risk individuals include:

  • Elderly adults;
  • Young children;
  • Pregnant women; and
  • Those with depressed immune systems.

Individuals who fall under one or more of these categories and are suffering from food poisoning symptoms should immediately seek medical care, as they could be in danger of life threatening side effects.

Who is Liable?

There are a number of different entities that can be held liable for food poisoning, including food vendors, restaurants, food processors, grocery stores, and manufacturers. However, before an injured party can collect compensation after contracting a foodborne illness, he or she must prove that the defendant was negligent in handling, storing, or preparing a specific dish or product, which then caused the injury. Alternatively, manufacturers or retailers can even be held liable under the theory of strict liability, as any entities involved in the chain of distribution in Illinois are responsible for injuries caused by consuming a defective product if the injured party can prove that:

  • The illness resulted from ingesting contaminated food sold by the defendant;
  • The contaminated food was unreasonably dangerous; and
  • The food was contaminated at the time the product left the defendant’s control.

Strict liability cases are especially common in large-scale foodborne illness outbreaks. Finally, vendors, restaurants, and retailers can be required to pay damages to food poisoning victims if they were aware that a product was defective, but failed to issue a recall.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today

To discuss your case with a dedicated and compassionate attorney, please call the SAM LAW OFFICE LLC at 847-255-9925 or send us an online message.

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