Is Food Poisoning a Valid Personal Injury Claim

Eating out can be a blast. You get a nice, cooked (or maybe uncooked) meal, a chance to go out with friends or family, not have to worry about any cleaning up, and a chance to enjoy yourself for an hour or two. So you can imagine the frustration that can follow when, shortly after returning from the restaurant, you suddenly feel nauseous and disorientated because it turns out the odd taste of the oysters was not related to the sauce. Food poisoning is, unfortunately, a common risk of eating out, and it can ruin your day. Sometimes it can even ruin your week.

Usually when you suffer an injury in a private business such as a restaurant you can file a personal injury claim in order to receive compensation. Unfortunately, the nature of food poisoning makes it difficult to pursue a case if circumstances do not properly align in your favour, usually because the symptoms of food poisoning don’t always manifest immediately.

The Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Typically food poisoning occurs when food has not been properly prepared or has otherwise been contaminated, while in the kitchen. Cooking food properly ensures that any harmful bacteria present on raw food, such as salmonella, is cleansed. Likewise, kitchen staff should always ensure that they have clean hands and utensils when handling your food to prevent further spread of bacteria.

In the event that food is contaminated, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Cramps in the stomach

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Nausea

  • Fatigue and lethargy

  • Loss of appetite

  • In particularly acute cases of food poisoning, you may also experience:

  • Dehydration

  • Bloody diarrhoea

  • Fever

  • Disorientation and other neurological difficulties

  • Such cases are indications of heavy food contamination, and you should see a doctor immediately. Lack of treatment could prove fatal. Exactly when you develop these symptoms will vary depending on the severity of the poisoning and the type you’ve suffered. As such you may see the first signs as quickly as within an hour or two, or only after as long as a couple of days

    Can I Make a Personal Claim?

    A personal claim can be sought after any personal injury, and compensation may also be acquired if you suffered the injury while abroad on a packaged vacation. However, before you pursue it you should make sure you have as strong a case as possible. Should you launch a claim without being able to prove that the restaurant you suffered food poisoning from was responsible, it probably will not be successful. Lost lawsuits are exceedingly expensive, which will not help your condition.

    When eating at a restaurant, always keep hold of any bills and receipts you receive while eating. This can at least prove that you have eaten at that restaurant around the time your symptoms first developed, which is a good first step. Also, make sure you keep receipts for any expenses caused by your illness, such as prescription drugs or travel expenses to the hospital, as these can also be claimed upon. Likewise, if you visited a doctor to investigate your food poisoning, ask for a copy of any notes they make to provide a professional assessment about your illness.

    If you develop symptoms quickly enough, you may be tempted to take food samples to help prove your claim. It may not be worth the effort, however – the restaurant can simply claim that the food became contaminated after it left the table.

    Another way to bolster the strength of your claim is to investigate any similar cases of food poisoning that may have occurred within the last few weeks or months. If several people have reported food poisoning after eating at your restaurant, you should try to get in contact with the victims to act as witnesses. If there is a history of food poisoning that can be linked to the restaurant, then it will go a long way towards the success of your claim. If you can get any witnesses from inside the restaurant, even better. If a waiter makes an offhand comment such as, “That’s the fourth case this week…” try to record it somehow.

    If your case is strong enough, you may not even have to go to court. The restaurant may well offer to settle your claim out-of-court for a mutually satisfactory fee, which both avoids the expense of a legal battle as well as the bad publicity.

    Seeking Help

    If you believe you have a case of food poisoning that could be pursued in a personal injury court, it may be an idea to seek legal advice on the matter. A trained attorney can provide expert legal advice, such as highlighting local laws and ordinances you can use to reinforce your claim. Most law firms, like Heil-Law, offer a free consultation upon the first visit, as well as competitive rates to help achieve your claim.

    Author bio:
    Christian Mills is a freelance writer and professional student with an interest in personal injury law. Regularly, he contributes articles helping civilians understand their rights. If you would like to learn more about Christian, visit his Google+ profile.

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