Food Poisoning Attorneys in California
Food poisoning occurs when someone becomes sick after eating spoiled or contaminated food.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that millions of Americans become sick every year due to food poisoning.
Some people even die in more severe cases due to a foodborne illness.
If you contract a foodborne illness such as E-Coli, Salmonella, Botulism, or other types of bacterial disease, it will typically result in severe sickness.
If you or a family member have sustained any damages from food poisoning, then you could be eligible to recover financial compensation from the negligent parties involved.
Our law firm can review the details and ensure you are fully compensated for your injuries. We will hold any party responsible for your foodborne illness, including grocery stores, restaurants, and food manufacturers.
This includes negotiation with their insurance carriers to receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
If you have experienced food poisoning, you know that the distress it causes is severe. You may have had to skip a lot of work.
You may have even contracted a life-threatening condition. You want to make sure that that doesn't happen again—and that there is no impact on your family's future.
However, working through California food poisoning regulations and related laws can be confusing.
This page from our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys will explain the basics of food poisoning and help you feel more in control by getting you all of the information you need.
The Definition of a Food Poisoning Accident
A food poisoning accident happens when a victim ingests contaminated food and contracts a food-related illness due to viruses or bacteria in the contaminated food.
You could contract food poisoning from several types of foods in fast-food restaurants, food trucks, bars, sports stadiums, deli, and even in your own home.
Food poisoning is caused by a wide range of factors, including a virus, bacteria, fungal growth, and toxic chemicals.
Some of the most common foodborne illnesses and germs are listed below.
What Are the Common Types of Food Poisoning?
The CDC has been able to identify over 250 diseases that can result from food poisoning. Some of the most common include:
- E. coli (Escherichia coli) are bacteria typically found in processed ground beef and on leafy vegetables like lettuce that weren't sufficiently cleaned or were contaminated. Common symptoms are stomach ache, nausea, and diarrhea. It could result in damage to the kidney.
- Campylobacter enteritis is a common bacterial foodborne illness spread through improperly cooked processed meat. It's also spread by consuming contaminated milk, water, or vegetables. Symptoms include upset stomach, fever, aches, and pains.
- Botulism is a somewhat rare but severe illness caused by toxins that attack the nerves in your body. It's typically found in preserved vegetables like green beans, fish, canned tuna, and meat products. Symptoms include weakness in the muscles and difficulty breathing.
- Giardia is a small parasite causing giardiasis's diarrheal disease, which spreads through contaminated food, water, or even personal contact. It's common in areas that have unsafe waters and poor sanitation. Symptoms are watery diarrhea, fatigue, and severe cramps.
- Listeria is a bacterial infection caused by eating contaminated food like meat, cheese, and fruit. It typically affects pregnant women, newborns, and the elderly who have weakened immune systems.
- Salmonella poisoning is a bacterial infection causing fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps within hours after the infection. This illness can last several days, and in the most severe cases, you may have to be admitted to a hospital.
- Norovirus is a viral infection generally transmitted through food, water, or other types of infected items. It causes your stomach to become inflamed, and typical symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea.
- Hepatitis A is a viral infection affecting the liver and is often spread by a food handler who has not sufficiently washed their hands after going to the bathroom.
How is Food Contaminated?
In many cases, bacteria are already present in foods when you buy them. Common examples include all types of meat wrapped in plastic, such as chicken, ground beef, and seafood.
Most of these bacteria in meat are destroyed when cooked in high heat, but if not cooked properly, viruses can remain on the food.
Any food can become contaminated. The foods that tend to exhibit contamination most often include:
- Raw meat,
- Raw eggs,
- Seafood like fish and shrimp,
- Fruit and vegetables from unclean facilities,
- Peanut butter,
- Unpasteurized milk.
Contamination generally occurs due to unsafe or unhygienic food practices; however, it can be challenging to determine which stage of supply these practices occurred (e.g., in a restaurant or at a produce supplier's facility).
In addition, these types of contamination events can also happen without a discernible proximate cause.
Unfortunately, this does not make determining liability easier and can make it hard to manage your case effectively and fairly.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning Accidents
There are many food poisoning events and types of contamination; there are many different ways that food poisoning can present bodily symptoms.
In addition, some people are more highly susceptible to food poisoning, including the immunocompromised, the very young, and the elderly. Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps,
- Weight loss,
- Blurred vision,
- Dry mouth,
- Muscle aches.
It is possible to contract a severe illness from food poisoning, particularly if the victim does not have immediate access to medical care.
The victim can sustain long-term suffering and pain from food poisoning events in some extreme circumstances.
California's statutes include the following language relating to food poisoning events:
Penal Code 347 PC establishes that it is a crime to knowingly poison a consumable substance that the perpetrator knows another human will consume.
Lawsuit for Food Poisoning Accidents in California
To establish that you have a case, you will need to show that the person who perpetuated the food poisoning event owed you a duty of care.
Also, they breached that duty of care and that their negligence links to your pain and suffering.
Determining negligence may involve an investigation into their food preparation and associated practices.
For example, the restaurant owner (or other entity) may need to show that they:
- Wash hands before preparing food, and that all of their employees do the same,
- Keep food preparation surfaces sanitized,
- Isolate raw food,
- Keep food cool or warm as needed,
- Use clean water and source their food responsibly.
To aid your case and set you up for success.
This may involve taking pictures of affected food or apparent unsafe practices, as well as establishing a timeline of the onset of your symptoms.
It is helpful to keep receipts showing when you consumed the food in question and keep track of all related medical care records.
Compensation for Food Poisoning Accidents
You may be able to seek damages for your pain and suffering as well as other costs you and your family may have accrued. These include:
- Medical expenses,
- Emergency room treatment,
- Ongoing therapy,
- Lost work,
- Lost capacity for future work,
- Materials necessary for recovery,
- Pain and suffering,
- Punitive damages.
For example, if you contracted a foodborne illness because of something you ate at a restaurant, you could seek compensation from them.
This is to cover your costs of care, the wages you would have made from any work you had to skip, and for the pain and suffering, you experienced due to their assumed negligence.
Statute of Limitations
The “statute of limitations” is the time frame you have to file a food poisoning lawsuit. Usually, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury claim in a civil court.
If you are filing a claim against a government entity, there is a 6-month deadline. The statute of limitation laws can get a bit complicated. Thus, it would help to discuss this with your injury lawyer before filing a lawsuit.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help?
If you are the victim of negligence in a food poisoning case, then food processors and their suppliers could be held liable for an illness caused by their products.
Restaurants that were negligent in food preparation, serving and storage can also be held accountable.
As noted, any victim of food poisoning cases can pursue compensation for damages that include medical expenses, hospital costs, prescription medications, emotional distress, among others.
At Injury Justice Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys have experience dealing with food poisoning cases and know how to obtain fair compensation for victims' losses.
We serve clients throughout Southern California from two office locations in Los Angeles County. We don't charge any fees unless we win your case.
We offer a free case evaluation by calling (818) 781-1570 or filling out our contact form.