What Food Poisoning Victims Need to Know - Symptoms and Causes


November 19, 2013

If you have become ill from a case of food poisoning you may have wondered whether you have a potential legal remedy. Just as in other areas of personal injury law, your legal options and rights depends on the circumstances surrounding the illness. The duration of time that passes between when you consumed the food or beverage and the onset of symptoms is a major factor when evaluating a food poisoning-related personal injury claim. If too much time elapses, this generally will make it harder to successfully pursue a successful personal injury action based being served food that is contaminated. If what you suspect is a case of food poisoning – also referred to as foodborne illness or contamination – has been identified by a state or federal health agency, then the claim is much stronger than an isolated, single case. Before you decide to pursue a personal injury claim for food poisoning, it's wise to familiarize yourself with the basics of such a claim and whom you would actually be making a claim against or suing to win compensation for your suffering.

A food poisoning lawsuit is viewed within the civil legal system as similar to a case of product liability brought against companies that produce defective products. Just as a defective set of brakes may lead to an injury, a defective food product can cause you to get sick. There are more than 200 different kinds of food poisons identified by researchers with bacteria like E. coli and salmonella among the most well-known. Despite these many different kinds of contamination, food poisons are divided into a few main categories: viruses that pass from person to person through food, parasites that live and grow within the human body, and toxins or poisons that end up in a food product and cause sickness.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is the governmental body that tracks food poisoning, reports more than 75 million cases occur each year in the U.S. While most of these cases are relatively minor and go unreported to healthcare providers, the CDC indicates that about 500 more serious outbreaks of food poisoning occur annually. A food poisoning incident is defined as an "outbreak" when a group of people eat a contaminated food product and become sick. These outbreaks send about 128,000 to the hospital each year and claim about 3,000 lives.

The symptoms of food poisoning often mimic a case of the flu and may include nausea, stomach cramps, bloody stool, severe headaches and fatigue. When all these symptoms occur in combination, the result can leave victims bedridden and unable to function for days at a time. When some period of time passes between consumption and sickness, it can be very hard to determine which food item was contaminated. Another challenge is finding out what type of food poisoning it is and how to treat it effectively. While some types of food poisoning can be treated with traditional antibiotics, others requiring different treatment methods.

Causes of contamination in food from animal products can start as early as the slaughtering process. There are some kinds of bacteria that exist inside animals and cause them no harm. These same contaminants may be very dangerous if consumed by people. Other hazardous bacteria exist in animal waste and can sometimes find its way into the food chain and cause illness.

Some food poisoning outbreaks can be linked to dirty water used to irrigate crops or perhaps unsanitary conditions found in food processing plants. Additional risks can come from pesticides, contaminates introduced through a washed cutting board or even a dirty kitchen utensil in a restaurant. Because of these challenges in establishing which food item was contaminated and the source of the contamination, those who experience food poisoning should seek a prompt legal evaluation of their legal claim.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Experience to Work For You

If you or a family member is suffering from a case of food poisoning that you believe was contracted from a restaurant, hotel or grocery store item, contact Montlick and Associates. Our Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been helping injury victims and their families for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.