Can You Sue a Restaurant if You Get Food Poisoning?

Everybody, at some point, has been sick after eating spoiled food. It could be something as simple as spoiled milk. However, other times, it can be serious. Here, we’ll explain how our Douglasville injury lawyers can help if you get food poisoning from a local restaurant.

Food Poisoning Cases Are Handled Similarly to Other Personal Injury Lawsuits

For the most part, a food poisoning case is treated just like any other personal injury lawsuit. Even if the restaurant is strictly liable for food poisoning, your Douglasville injury lawyer will still have to prove causation.

The good news is that Georgia doesn’t hold food poisoning victims to such a high standard. Years ago, in order to collect damages in a food poisoning case, plaintiffs had to submit hard evidence to win their case. Thankfully, this changed in 2018.

Your Douglasville Injury Lawyer May Have to Prove Negligence

In Patterson v Kevon, 2018 WL 3965745, the Georgia Supreme Court found that plaintiffs in food poisoning cases could prove proximate cause using circumstantial evidence. This not only makes legal sense, but it makes common sense as well. The odds of your having a food sample to study are slim.

This is why so many restaurants and other food service companies are now held strictly liable when it comes to foodborne illnesses. If you can prove that you ate nothing other than the defendant’s food, they can’t blame it on another restaurant. This is why it’s imperative that you go to the hospital right away.

Often, the Restaurant Will Be Held Strictly Liable

In food poisoning cases today, restaurants will be held strictly liable if the plaintiff can demonstrate proximate cause. What this means is that it doesn’t matter if the restaurant knew that their food was contaminated.

Even if the restaurant hasn’t had a single complaint other than yours, they can still be held liable. It will help your case even more if your personal injury attorney in Douglasville can show that the restaurant failed inspection. According to OCGA §26-2-375, restaurants must keep their food safe and their facilities clean.

What Was the Nature of Your Food Poisoning?

The first thing your Douglasville injury lawyer (and doctor) will need to know is the story behind your food poisoning. Here are some of the questions your attorney will ask:

  • Where did you eat the contaminated food?
  • Did you eat in the restaurant or did you take it home?
  • What food did you order?
  • Did you notice if the food was freshly made or had it been pre-made?
  • Did the food taste strange?
  • How quickly after you ate did you feel sick?
  • What symptoms did you experience?

These cases move so quickly, you can’t waste any time. Our personal injury attorneys in Douglasville suggest that you keep a detailed timeline to show exactly when your symptoms started and how long they lasted.

Contaminated food at a restaurant can cause severe illness.

There Are a Host of Serious Food Contaminants

If you talk to a Douglasville injury lawyer after suffering a two or three-day bout with food poisoning, there’s a chance they may not take your case. In order for you to collect damages, you’ll need to prove that you suffered a serious illness.

Some of the more serious food contaminants that our clients have been sickened from in the past include:

  • E-coli
  • Botulism
  • Norovirus
  • Vibrio
  • Salmonella
  • Rotavirus

There are others, but these are some of the more common ones. If you’re infected with any of these, you may end up dangerously ill. You could spend up to a week or two in the hospital. You may miss several weeks from work. If this is the case, the restaurant needs to be held accountable.

The Food Preparers May Have Been Unhygienic

Nobody wants to think of this, but there’s a chance the food preparers at the restaurant were unclean. They could have been sick with something and transferred their germs into your food. They may have unclean hands that touched the food customers ate.

While this may be hard to prove, you’d be surprised at the type of evidence your personal injury attorney in Douglasville can cite to prove this. Some examples include:

  • A photograph of the employee(s) while on shift
  • Prior write-ups issued to the employee for failing to maintain good hygiene
  • Notes on health inspector reports showing citations for unclean and unsafe conditions

You need to focus on getting better. Let your attorney deal with hunting down the necessary evidence.

What Kind of Damages Can Your Personal Injury Attorney in Douglasville Demand?

If your personal injury attorney in Douglasville is able to prove causation, they will then have to prove your damages. Depending on the seriousness of your food poisoning, you may be entitled to:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical bills
  • Lost wages

This may not seem as lucrative as with ordinary personal injury cases. However, there are no property damages to demand. And, as for pain and suffering, the courts don’t tend to award these damages in food poisoning cases.

Typically, Food Poisoning Cases Only Involve Damages for Medical Bills and Lost Wages

If you expect to recover damages for medical bills, you’ll need to provide medical records and copies of your medical bills. In addition, you may need to submit explanation of benefit forms so the defendant can reimburse your health insurance carrier.

As for lost wages, you may be able to collect a modest amount in damages. Even if you were hospitalized, you probably didn’t miss more than a week or two from work. If you had any personal time accrued, you will have to use that first before you can demand compensation from the restaurant.

It’s Very Rare That Your Douglasville Injury Lawyer Will Be Able to Get You Pain and Suffering

As stated briefly above, it’s rare that a judge would grant pain and suffering in a food poisoning case. While it is no picnic being sick with food poisoning, it can hardly be compared with a back or neck injury.

You Don’t Want to Wait Too Long to Meet with a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney in Douglasville

One of the things about food poisoning is that it usually doesn’t last very long. Most of our clients who suffered from food poisoning were better within a week. Our personal injury attorneys in Douglasville can only file suit if a person suffered an actual injury.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to sue. There are some people who get dangerously ill from spoiled or contaminated food. This is why it’s so important that you go to the hospital immediately. If you wait for more than a day or two, it may be impossible to prove that you were sick.

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