According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 1 in 4 adults will experience food poisoning in their lifetimes. Food-borne illnesses can be immensely disruptive to a person's life, sometimes requiring medical treatment and other inconveniences. While you may be tempted to sue the party liable for your illness, it's important to consider all the factors involved to ensure the effort is worth your time and money. Here are some things to think about before calling an attorney.
Can You Prove What Caused Your Illness?
One of the most challenging aspects of suing for food poisoning is proving the food or drink your consumed did, in fact, cause your illness. Many people think all they have to do is testify that the item in question was the last thing they ate—and therefore the likely culprit—to prove their cases, but it's more complex than that. You would actually have to show that nothing else you ate, drank, or came into contact with could have caused your illness.
For instance, the undercooked chicken sandwich you got from the local burger joint may have been the source of salmonella poisoning you experienced, but the source could've also been the recalled lettuce your purchased from the grocery store or the homemade mayonnaise you made using raw eggs. If you are suing the restaurant for making you sick, the defendant's attorney could point to any of the other foods you consumed as possible sources of your illness.
Further complicating matters is the fact that some food-borne illnesses can take days to appear. Symptoms of E. coli poisoning can take two to five days to appear, for example, making it hard to pinpoint the source of the infection.
There are, of course, many ways you can prove your case, such as highlighting other people who have been sickened from the same disease around the same time period and having the food tested for contaminants. However, this can take time and money to do, so you need to ensure you can afford both before pursuing a lawsuit.
Are Your Damages High Enough?
Another factor you need to consider is whether the monetary value of your damages is high enough to cover your losses and the cost of litigation. For instance, it may not be worth going to court if all you suffered was a few days of gastrointestinal distress and bought $5 worth of medication to alleviate the discomfort. On the other hand, paying the attorney and court fees may be will worth it to collect money for a long-term disability you suffered because of the illness or the death of loved one who was sickened.
There are a few other things you need to consider before filing a lawsuit against a company that caused your food poisoning. Discuss your case with a personal injury attorney to determine if this is the right course of action for you.
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