This page details California’s laws regarding food poisoning. Food is everywhere and something we all enjoy every day. It is essential to our well-being and, generally, it is safe. Sometimes, however, there is a mistake in the procedures that keep our food safe and people become seriously ill. On rare occasions food poisoning can lead to death. If you get seriously injured from contaminated food, you should consult with a food poisoning lawyer to evaluate your legal rights.
This page covers:
- What is food poisoning?
- Common signs and symptoms of food poisoning
- Common causes of food poisoning
- What should I do if I believe I have come down with food poisoning?
- Whose fault is it if I have a case of food poisoning?
- Comparative Fault
- How long do I have to file my lawsuit?
- Consulting a food poisoning lawyer
What is Food Poisoning in California?
The bacteria and viruses that cause the most cases of food poisoning in the U.S. are Salmonella, Norovirus, Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, and Clostridium perfringens. Luckily, California courts have protected the consumer by permitting them to sue restaurants and supermarkets that sell contaminated food.
”If, however, the presence of the natural substance is due to a restauranteur’s failure to exercise due care in food preparation, the injured patron may sue under negligence theory.” Mexicali Rose v. Superior Court.
The same reasons used in Mexicali Rose were applied to make supermarkets responsible in Ford v. Miller Meat Co. This is a good thing as the CDC reported that in 2011 there were 47.8 million cases of food poisoning of which 127,839 had to hospitalized. Food poisoning isn’t just an upset stomach either, as there were an estimated 3,037 deaths from food poisoning that year.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Food Poisoning
The Mayo Clinic identifies the following as common symptoms of food poisoning:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
These symptoms can appear anywhere from a few hours to even a few weeks after eating the food. If you believe that you’ve been seriously injured by contaminated food, contact our food poisoning lawyer for a free consultation.
Common Causes of Food Poisoning and Prevention
Unfortunately, food may become contaminated at any point in the process. Many instances involve some form of “cross-contamination” or transferring the bad stuff to something it wasn’t on before. Some common ways this occurs are:
- Food Handling – When someone handling the food does not wash their hands before touching it, or cross-contaminates by not washing their hands in between handling a contaminated ingredient and a clean one.
- Food Preparation – Like food handling, but more so with regards to the utensils used. If you use a knife or a cutting board with raw chicken, for example, don’t use it for vegetables.
- Food Storage – Food that is not stored at appropriate temperatures can provide ideal grounds for bacteria to grow. Follow the instructions on the packaging for storage.
- Heating Food – Heating food can often kill the bad stuff sitting on it, but there are some bacteria that survive. Check the recommendations on the food you are making to prevent this.
What Should I Do if I Have Food Poisoning?
If you have food poisoning, the first thing you should do is consult your doctor. They will be able to decide the best course of action for your medical recovery. After your visit with your doctor, contact a food poisoning lawyer. Your lawyer will need some time to figure out the facts of the case and who is responsible. Your medical bills won’t be willing to wait while your case is completed, so you’ll want your lawyer to have as much time as possible. Finally, ask your lawyer if you should file a consumer complaint at the California Dept. of Public Health.
Whose Responsible for My Injuries?
If your case of food poisoning comes from a visit to a restaurant, it may be a violation of law. The liability in food poisoning does not necessarily depend on the cause of the injury so much as if the owner knew of that danger and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the food poisoning from happening.
For instance, it may be found that a restaurant handles and prepares all of its salads with the utmost precision, but the batch of spinach that they put in their salads was contaminated by E.Coli at the farm. In this case, while you may be able to sue the restaurant, they may be on the hook for less money than the farm who contaminated the produce. If, in the example above, the produce was fine when it was shipped out, but got contaminated at the restaurant, the restaurant would be completely liable. Your food poisoning lawyer will figure out the liability.
These two examples are one reason why you should contact a food poisoning lawyer. While you are recovering from your illness, your lawyer will be doing the groundwork to figure out where the food poisoning came from, who is liable, and the best course of action to maximize your recovery.
What Can I Recover From My Food Poisoning Claim?
If your lawyer wins your trial, you can recover wages that you may have lost due to your food poisoning. Additionally, you will be able to recover the costs of any medical expenses you may have incurred from the sickness. These tend to be the larger portions of damages recovered.
Finally, on extremely rare occasions, you may be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded so as to deter other companies from not making the same mistake. Regarding food poisoning injuries, your attorney will most likely have to show that the restaurant or company that gave you food poisoning regularly violated health and safety regulations. Again, these are extremely rare, so you should not count on them.
The Statute of Limitations
The time limit you have to file your case is two years as set by California’s Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1. This statute of limitations is incredibly important, so we highly recommend that you contact a food poisoning lawyer as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the greater risk you run of causing harm to your case.
Food Poison Lawyer Consultations
If you or a loved one have suffered food poisoning, and you think that it is due to the retailer or restaurant you got the food at, you should contact a San Diego personal injury lawyer to review your case. All consultations with our San Diego office are free.
Furthermore, if you decide to have our lawyer represent you, they will be paid via a contingency fee. A contingency fee means that they do not make a penny unless you win your case. The percentage they will be paid is agreed upon beforehand. Our food poison lawyer also covers the costs of your case and will recover those costs from your verdict or settlement. Trials can be expensive, but you should not have to suffer because of that.