The Centers for Disease Control estimates that around 3,000 people die each year from foodborne illnesses. An additional 128,000 are hospitalized and 48 million people are sickened by foodborne pathogens each year. And these are just reported cases. The CDC notes that for every reported case, up to 30 cases go unreported. However, proving food poisoning can be tricky, so not everyone injured follows through with a claim. An exception to this is when an outbreak of E. coli or other foodborne pathogens occurs, it is often easier to trace the source of the food poisoning and determine responsibility for any damages that result. A personal injury attorney can help you determine if your case is a good fit for litigation.
You may suspect that the General Tsao’s chicken you ordered last night caused your bout with the sickness; perhaps the chicken was tainted with salmonella, or maybe the restaurant counter wasn’t sanitary, and a virulent pathogen was transferred to you. While it’s possible that your suspicions are justified, providing liability for food poisoning isn’t as easy as having a hunch. And even if you can prove it, if your damages are limited (a little gastrointestinal distress and a day of missed work), filing a claim may not even be worth your time, to begin with. The truth is that most cases of food poisoning cannot be definitively traced to a specific source.
On the other hand, it is not uncommon to hear of foodborne illness outbreaks. One of the most common is fresh produce. Several times in recent years, outbreaks of foodborne illness were traced to bagged lettuce products packaged by a specific farm and distributed in a particular area. Such was the case in early 2018 when 121 people were sickened and one died as a result of E. coli in Romaine lettuce traced to an Arizona farm. The lettuce had been distributed to 25 states, including California. In outbreaks like this one, liability generally lies on the farm or producer who packaged the product or the restaurant that served it. Those sickened by their products have a right to seek civil compensation for their injuries.
If you fell ill after eating food that was part of a publicized outbreak, you may be entitled to compensation under the law. A Los Angeles personal injury attorney can evaluate your individual case and help you determine if you have grounds to pursue your claim. The length and severity of your illness, any complications resulting from it, and whether or not you were hospitalized all factor into the strength of your claim. You may be entitled to damages for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering endured as a result of your foodborne illness. The Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg can fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve. Schedule your free consultation with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer now.