To survive, a human being needs to eat and drink. Studies claim that an average healthy individual can go for about three weeks without food, but the same person would only last three to four days without water. The body needs the two of them for sustenance to remain in optimal working condition. Due to their essential role in keeping people alive, the food and water that we consume need to stay pure and clean at all times. We make sure that the necessary precautions must be cautiously taken in keeping the things we consume free from any form of impurities. However, when the unexpected happens, we take in something contaminated, and by doing so, the body develops illnesses that prohibit it from functioning correctly. This situation is called food poisoning.
More commonly known as food poisoning, foodborne illness is the result of consuming contaminated, spoiled, or toxic food or beverages. The bacteria, parasites, or viruses in the food triggers harmful reactions that prohibit the body from performing its usual functions. Though most cases are easily manageable, there are instances when the victim, unfortunately, succumbs to death. Some of the symptoms for the sickness are:
- Abdominal Cramps
- Loss of appetite
To avoid food poisoning, California made sure that the food industry abides by the standards required by the health and safety sectors of the state. Suppose proven that the food and beverage service company's neglect is why the said food poisoning. In that case, the law permits the victims to seek compensation for the damages inflicted on them. If the victim and the company did not reach a fair agreement, the parties could file a lawsuit to settle the disputes justly.
Without proper settlements, the victim can file a lawsuit against the accused. This may be against the caterers, restaurants, grocery stores, or even big foodservice companies, i.e., large food chains and manufacturers. However, it is the victim's party's burden to prove that the fault is really on the accused. One of the most common grounds that the victim stands on is that the food and beverage provider was neglectful of their duties, especially if the plaintiff owes them a duty of care. If proven that the accused's negligent behavior caused the contamination of the product, the victim and his/her legal aids can appeal for just compensations or a more intense course of actions, e.g., closures.
Food poisoning cases have been around for a long time, but it does not really reach infamy until the victims rack up dozens. The following are some of the most famous food poisoning cases in modern day history.
- Chipotle Mexican Grill (2015) – 55 people were confirmed to have contracted E. Coli with at least 16 of those hospitalized with 11 deaths. The victims were compensated.
- Cucumbers (2015) – 907 people were confirmed to have contracted Salmonella with at least 204 of those hospitalized with 6 deaths. The cucumbers were recalled by the producer, the victims were compensated.
- Cheese (2014) – 8 people were confirmed to have contracted Listeriosis with at least 7 of those hospitalized with two deaths. The cheeses were recalled by the company, the victims were compensated.
- Chicken Salad (2013) – At least 26 people were confirmed to have contracted E. Coli after eating a prepared chicken salad.
- Farm Chickens (2012) – 634 people were confirmed to have contracted Salmonella with 38% of those were hospitalized. Fortunately, no one died in the outbreak. The chickens were recalled and the victims were compensated.
The majority of food poisoning cases are covered by the general umbrella of Product Liability Laws. The product liability law is a set of legal standards that covers the producing, manufacturing and distributing products from the manufacturers to the consumers. Among the branches of the product liability law, food poisoning cases are covered by strict liability. This means that be it intentional or not; there should be no fault or any signs of negligence in the product.
Damage Compensation and Settlements
A victim of food poisoning has the legal right to charge for the damages that his/her party is owed. There are two types of damages that he/she can ask to be compensated for – the economic and non-economic damages.
- Lost/Missed Wages
- Legal Charges
- Medical Bills
- Prescription Medicines
- Emotional Distress
- Pain and Suffering
Foodborne illnesses or food poisonings can leave severe dents in physical, emotional, and economic burdens. Due to the damaging consequences of food poisoning, it would be best if the victim hires legal support to settle the disputes rather than arrange it themselves. When ordinary citizens are tricked by big-time companies to sign a waiver and release them of any legal consequences for an unfair amount of compensation, an experienced injury lawyer can spot that and help the victim receive just settlements.
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