Restaurant Food Poisoning Lawsuits—What You Need to Know

Every time we turn on the news, it seems that we hear more about the outbreak of food-related illnesses. Recalls and unsanitary restaurant practices regularly plague consumers. Most recently, an outbreak of norovirus and E. Coli sickened college students and burrito-eaters all over the country, and popular Mexican food joint Chipotle had to close 43 stores.

Anyone who has experienced food poisoning knows how awful the symptoms can be. Excessive nausea and vomiting can lead to severe dehydration and may even require hospital time to recover. If this seems painfully familiar, you may wonder if you have legal grounds to pursue a personal injury claim. The answer is very much the same as other aspects of law: it depends.

What Makes a Food Poisoning Case?

From a legal perspective, Las Vegas food poisoning claims relate to an area of law known as defective product liability in Las Vegas. Essentially, a manufacturer sold you a defective product (in the Chipotle case, a burrito or something similar), and that defective product lead to some kind of injury (food poisoning and its ill effects). A food poisoning case deals with several other aspects of law, including:

  • A breach of warranties. Manufacturers like restaurants and food distributors agree to uphold minimum standard of quality when it comes to their food—namely, that it won’t contain pathogens that will make consumers sick. This is also called an “implied warranty,” as it doesn’t need to be expressly written.
  • All Las Vegas personal injury claims, including food poisoning, involve one party (like a restaurant) failing to exercise reasonable care around others. In Chipotle’s case, it failed to send employees sickened with norovirus home and allowed them to prepare food.
  • Strict product liability. Generally, the burden of proof is on the accuser, but food poisoning claims work a bit differently. All you have to do is prove that the food you ate made you sick. A manufacturer can be found negligent even if it “didn’t know” the food would make you sick.

How Do I Pursue a Las Vegas Food Poisoning Injury Claim?

Unlike other personal injury claims, you don’t have to prove whether or not another party committed negligence in a traditional sense. All you have to do is prove that you ate a contaminated food product and that product lead to food poisoning. It sometimes can be complicated to figure out which food you ate made you sick because of the time lapse between consuming the food and the onset of your food poisoning symptoms.

Proving a food made you sick thus requires scientific testing. You’ll need a stool sample to determine which pathogen is responsible for your symptoms. Common ones are e. coli, campylobacter, salmonella, and shigella. A health department official will compare the results of your sample with samples of food he or she believes to be contaminated. If the pathogens match, you have legal grounds for a personal injury claim.

Do I Have to Identify a Pathogen?

Even if you don’t go to the hospital to have your stool analyzed, you may still qualify for a personal injury claim. If multiple people are sickened from the same source within a similar time frame, that may be enough evidence to pursue a personal injury claim.

It’s important to remember that any member in the food distribution chain can be responsible for negligence, from the grocery store to a restaurant. A Las Vegas personal injury attorney can help you figure out who is liable for your food poisoning.

Your Las Vegas Food Poisoning Attorney

The first step in recovering damages from a food poisoning claim is consulting with an attorney at De Castroverde Law Group. Contact our office to set up a free case evaluation.