Food Poisoning Claim: How to Sue a Restaurant

Coming down with a case of food poisoning is definitely an unpleasant experience. But is this unpleasant experience enough for a claim? 

It seems that food poisoning can often lead to a lawsuit and a significant recovery at the same time. This happens when you become ill from consuming food that was contaminated with a virus, bacteria, or parasites. As contaminants cannot be observed with the naked eye, it’s often impossible to tell just by checking the food. 

Food can become contaminated at any point – there are cases of food being recalled from restaurants and grocery stores. Most commonly, the foods exposed to contaminants are the products of raw meat that often contain E. coli and salmonella, two bacteria that often cause recalls after being detected in food. 

Someone suffering from food poisoning will often experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. While these symptoms are usually so mild that medical treatment is not required, many people don’t even realize they have food poisoning.

Instead, they often attribute these symptoms to the flu or a similar illness. On the other hand, severe cases of food poisoning may even require hospitalization and close medical attention.  

Food poisoning cases often happen in a restaurant setting where aliments and ingredients are not kept at the proper temperature necessary to prevent the growth of bacteria, but it can also happen if food has passed its expiration date and become spoiled, or the employees do not follow recommended hygiene practices.

For this reason, people who experience food poisoning at a restaurant may want to take legal action against the restaurant for their negligence. 

Liability in Food Poisoning Cases 

Food poisoning cases normally fall under the category of product liability claims, the idea being that you have been served a defective product (food) that injured (sickened) you. In a legal sense, food can be considered “defective” for a variety of reasons: 

  • Food has been sufficiently cooked 
  • Inadequate hygiene guidelines have affected the preparation of food 
  • Bacteria have been cross-contaminated 
  • Produce has not been covered or refrigerated sufficiently

Proving Your Case 

Before filing a legal lawsuit for food poisoning against a restaurant that you believe liable for your suffering, you must make sure that you will be able to prove that the food poisoning did come from the food you served at their establishment. 

In order to do that, you will need to satisfy the elements of negligence. When it comes to restaurant food poisoning, you must be able to prove the following: 

  • The establishment had a duty to serve you safe food and breached that duty by serving you unsafe food due to their negligence 
  • The served food caused your illness; and 
  • You have significant damages as a result of your illness. 

According to, proving these elements is likely to be difficult, and it can be difficult to lay on the table enough evidence to demonstrate your case. Though, proving that you’ve experienced severe food poisoning from a restaurant is much easier when more customers experience the same symptoms from eating the same food at the same restaurant. 

If that’s the case, you will have twice more chances to prove that a certain establishment was the source for your illness if several other customers get sick and the common denominator between them is that they eat in the same location. 

You can visit your doctor after developing symptoms of food poisoning to help you identify exactly what type of bacteria or virus you were exposed to. In doing so, you will make proving your case much easier.

You will also need to provide evidence of any medical expenses incurred because of the food poisoning, such as receipts for prescription and other over-the-counter medicines and treatment bills necessary to treat your illness. 

If you manage to prove all of these elements, then the restaurant will be considered liable for their carelessness in cooking and serving your food.  

Suing the Restaurant for Food Poisoning 

If you decide to file a lawsuit for food poisoning and manage to prove your case successfully, then the restaurant will be at fault for your bad experience and the damages you suffer. Often these damages will likely include lost earnings while you were ill and medical expenses. 

While it may not be easy to identify the exact individual employee accountable for the inadequate food handling, the individual responsible for your damages could very likely lose their job. 

We know that agencies responsible for regulating food handling and preparation impose very severe penalties on restaurants that breach safe food handling guidelines. 

When to Call a Product Liability Attorney?

You may have reasons for a food poisoning lawsuit if you experience serious harm such as severe illness, missed time from work, expensive hospital bills, pain and suffering, or the loss of a loved one. A product liability lawyer will be able to establish the exact connection between your case of salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and another illness and the defendant’s negligence. 

So, if you think you may have a case that necessitates the support of a legal expert, an attorney experienced in restaurant food poisoning cases will be invaluable. An experienced lawyer will help you preserve evidence of the local’s negligence and can ensure that you’re rewarded for all damages suffered as a result. 

Unless the establishment is willing to settle, you will have to go to trial. If that’s the case, it is important to have a legal advisor to represent you and navigate through the suit.

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