In most cases, food poisoning is just a minor, though unpleasant, inconvenience. Perhaps you spend a few hours or even a whole day visiting the toilet, but then you're well again. But in some cases, food poisoning can leave a victim with devastating disabilities and can even be deadly. To make matters worse, the medical bills that result from a bad food poisoning case could even wipe out your family's finances. So what can you do if you or a family member falls victim to a food-borne illness that results in a long hospitalization or even death? In some circumstances, you may need to hire a personal injury attorney to help you recover for the damages caused by a food poisoning incident.
Types of Food Poisoning
It's often hard to distinguish between food poisoning and an illness, such as the Norovirus, which can have similar symptoms. But it's important that you distinguish between the two in the event that you lose a loved one and have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The following are two of the most common types of food poisoning:
Although many varieties of E. coli are harmless – and some even live in your intestines – there are some strains that are very dangerous. One of the worst outbreaks of E. coli occurred in 1993 and was eventually linked to hamburgers being sold through the Jack in the Box restaurants. That outbreak left four children dead and many others with serious physical and learning disabilities. While E. coli is usually transmitted through the eating of contaminated food, people can also get infected by touching contaminated animals in petting zoos.
Dining on cucumbers seems like it would be a harmless activity. But during the summer of 2015, it became a dangerous one, with more than 280 people in 27 states falling ill after eating cucumbers tainted with salmonella. Although most people recover from salmonella poisoning after four to seven days, victims in severe cases may need to be hospitalized. People can come down with Salmonella poisoning if they eat contaminated foods or touch animals, especially reptiles, that harbor the bacteria.
Seeking Legal Remedy
If you or a loved one have been injured by a food poisoning incident, you may need to file a suit against those responsible. Food poisoning cases can be difficult to prove, so it's important to hire an attorney who is experienced in these types of cases. You should also:
- Ask the physician treating you or your loved to perform stool culture tests to determine the cause of the illness. The doctor may also decide to conduct a blood test to determine if the food poisoning may have been caused by bacteria. And if you still have any of the suspect food, you should also have that tested, as well.
- Create a timeline of the places you had visited and the foods you have eaten in the past one to three (or sometimes more) days. Remember that some bacteria can also be transmitted by animals at a petting zoo, so don't just limit your list to food-related facilities.
- Report the incident to your local health department. It may take up to two to four weeks to confirm whether or not your illness may be linked to a food poisoning outbreak.
What Your Lawyer Can Do For You
A personal injury lawyer may also hire the following experts to help you prove your case:
- Experts in the food industry, as well as scientists.
- Vocational expert to show how much income you may have lost or could lose due to any injuries you suffered because of the food poisoning.
It's important to have your attorney file suit early in a food poisoning case because it's not uncommon for responsible entities to declare bankruptcy. By filing early, you will have a better chance of claiming a portion of any insurance money that may be available to victims. For more information, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.