Food Poisoning Litigation: When to Seek More than Medical Attention

When you go out to eat at a restaurant or buy food from your local grocery store, you trust the food handling professionals to ensure that everything you buy is clean and safe to eat. However, this is not always the case. As evidenced by the waves of E. coli and Listeria outbreaks in the last two years, food serving venues are not always successful at keeping their food properly maintained and free of contamination. While minor mistakes like temperature mishandling happen all the time and are dealt with by getting rid of the risky food products, sometimes venues either don’t catch the contamination or fail to warn their customers about the dangers.

Long Term Consequences

Most people associate food poisoning with a few days of unpleasant digestion, but for some people the consequences are permanent, extensive, and potentially fatal. It all depends on what you are exposed to and your body’s individual reaction to the contamination. E. coli, for instance, can cause kidney failure, known as hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) and is the most common cause of acute kidney failure in children. Salmonella, on the other hand, can cause chronic reactive arthritis, which can last for months, years, or a lifetime of joint pain after a single exposure. Listeria, perhaps the nastiest of the three, can lead to brain and nerve damage in the form of meningitis and exposed newborns may develop mental retardation, seizures, paralysis, blindness, or deafness.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

With two very different tiers of food poisoning, it’s important to know how to tell if you’re at real risk. The mild and temporary form of food poisoning which can be treated with fluids and rest is usually identified by nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, a mild fever, and diarrhea. This may be unpleasant, but manageable. However, you know you’re in danger if your symptoms resemble

  • Frequent vomiting and inability to keep liquids down
  • Blood in vomit or toilet
  • Extreme abdominal pain
  • Fever over 100F or 38C
  • Extreme dehydration: thirst, dry mouth, no urination, weakness, dizziness, and lightheadedness
  • Neurological symptoms: blurry vision, muscle weakness, and arm tingling.

When to Litigate

For the most part, people don’t sue for a couple days of upset stomach. However, you will need protection from medical bills should food poisoning result in serious or long-term conditions. If you find yourself experiencing dangerous or extended symptoms, it’s time to call a personal damages lawyer who can take on the restaurant at fault. To do this, you will need a collection of proof including a medical diagnosis, evidence that you ate at the restaurant or was infected by someone who did, and that your illness is causing you real harm.

Always be Prepared

Eating out at a nice restaurant is always enjoyable and most of the time you are perfectly safe. However, because there is a risk of serious illness and medical bills, it’s important to be prepared for litigation should the need arise. To prepare in case of an incident, keep your restaurant receipts for about six weeks after each dining experience. This ensures that even slow-onset illnesses like Hepatitis A can be detected while you still have proof of patronage. Next, if you do feel extremely ill or remain ill for longer than two days, see a doctor immediately and get your diagnosis. This will help you know if it’s time to call a lawyer and have all the evidence ready if it comes to that.

The attorneys at Swor & Gatto have been dedicated to protecting victims of personal injury in all forms for over 30 years and are here to help you. If you or someone you know has been exposed to a serious foodborne illness in Minnesota, we encourage you to contact us immediately for a free consultation.