Food Poisoning and Product Liability Claims

The Babcock Law Firm legal team talk about what it takes to win a defective product lawsuit for injuries sustained from a foodborne illness

If you have ever experienced food poisoning, you know how miserable it can be.  And when you feel lousy, it's normal to try and find something – or someone – to blame.  However, determining whether you have a legitimate case against a restaurant, grocery store or other food distributor for a foodborne illness depends entirely on the circumstances surrounding your situation.

Below are a few details regarding food poisoning claims and the necessary steps to prove your case before a judge.

Strict Product Liability

Most food poisoning cases fall under the protection of product liability laws which many states (including Colorado) have adopted.  The reasoning behind these laws is that if you have been sold a defective product (the food) that causes you serious injury or harm, then you may be able to seek compensation for damages such as hospital bills and lost wages.

When a state has adopted product liability law, a plaintiff is relieved from having to prove the food distributor acted negligently in packaging or handling the food.  Under these laws, you just have to provide evidence that a particular food product resulted in your sickness. 

Negligence

In states where strict product liability is not a legal basis for a food poisoning claim, plaintiffs must be able to argue that the defendants in the lawsuit were negligent in their handling of the contaminated food which led to their sickness.  Negligence can be established if the manufacturer or distributor failed to "exercise reasonable care" in producing the product.

Breach of Warranty

There is also a situation people run into called a "breach of warranty."  Colorado and most other states have minimum standards on consumer goods and products, and it is possible that the food you ate may have undergone a violation of these standards.  For example, some produce is marketed as "triple washed."  Perhaps this package guarantee was violated and was a contributing factor to food poisoning. In this case, a breach of warranty may have occurred.

Proving Your Food Poisoning Claim

According to Nolo, there are two vital things you must prove in a food poisoning lawsuit: 

  1. Was the food you ate contaminated?
  2. Did the contamination cause you to become ill?

Typically, it is easier to prove your case if a government agency (such as the FDA) has linked a particular food you consumed to an outbreak of food poisoning, which may result in a class-action lawsuit.  If you believe a particular food product you consumed was contaminated, it is best to get a stool sample from your doctor so that there is evidence that the same disease-causing microbes were found in the food you consumed.

In a successful food poisoning lawsuit, the contamination must be traced to its source and anyone involved in the chain of distribution is included in the case.  Each state places its' own time limit for filing a food poisoning claim. This is called the "statute of limitations."

Seeking Legal Counsel

Proving food poisoning cases can be difficult.  A successful defective product lawsuit must establish a clear and direct link between the item in question and the injury or illness experienced by the victim. Furthermore, plaintiffs in certain states may have to show evidence that the manufacturer or distributor acted negligently, which contributed to their injury.

If you or a loved one were hospitalized from a serious foodborne illness due to what you believe was negligence on the part of a restaurant, grocery store or food distributor, discuss your case with our highly experienced legal team led by Denver attorney R. Mack Babcock. We will determine if you are eligible for being reimbursed for medical costs and loss of wages.

You can also browse our blog and Legal Library for more information regarding these and other kinds of personal injury cases we handle.

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