Liability in Food Poisoning Cases | Belt, Bruner & Barnett

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Liability in Food Poisoning Cases

May 26, 2017 | Defective Products

Food poisoning is a relatively common illness and many healthy adults recover after a few days off work and extra fluids. However, this may not have been the case for you. Certain bacteria can lead to serious injuries, and if you are young, elderly, or have a compromised immune system, food poisoning can hit you particularly hard.

If you had to be hospitalized and suffered a serious injury because of food poisoning, call the product injury lawyers of Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. at (205) 933-1500 to learn more about your rights and legal options.

Possible Liability in Food Poisoning Cases

The liability for food poisoning that causes you harm can depend on a variety of factors, including when, where, and how the food became contaminated. Food products can be contaminated from the source: the manufacturer or grower. For instance, fruits and vegetables can be irrigated with contaminated water. These can then leave the grower and move through the supply chain being contaminated with harmful bacteria the entire time. If the bacteria can be traced by officials back to the source, such as the farm or manufacturing facility, then the producer is likely liable.

However, foods often leave the producer or manufacturer perfectly safe to eat and acquire bacteria along the way, such as through transportation or at a processing or packaging facility. Foods must be handled correctly and in clean environments. If the containers, trucks, other vehicles, processing facilities, and workers and do not meet the necessary hygienic standards, food can become contaminated. If the bacteria is traced back to these entities, then they would be responsible for your injuries.

Food products can be contaminated even further down the line when they are in retail shops and restaurants. At this point, many products are still in a raw or natural state, such as uncooked meats, fruits, and vegetables. They are vulnerable to bacteria. Poor food handling and storage is likely to transfer dangerous bacteria from one food product, surface, or person to other food. Improper storage or cooking methods can support the growth of bacteria as well, making the situation worse. If the food made it to the seller safely and acquired contamination shortly before you ingested it, then the restaurant or store may be liable.

Determining Liability

There are clearly many places between the food’s origin and destination where it could become contaminated with a foodborne illness: the producer, manufacturer, transportation, processing, packaging, and retailer. This can make it difficult to determine whether just one or more of these parties are liable. This task is made even more challenging because entities who passively transfer contaminated food from one place to another may not be liable for your injuries. It takes a great deal of investigation to determine to exact bacteria and strain that caused your injuries and to trace it back to its original source. In serious foodborne illness outbreaks, federal authorities are usually involved and you may need to wait for their findings to determine liability.

Bringing a Food Poisoning Case

If you were seriously hurt because of food poisoning, then you likely have a product liability case, which may be based on negligence, misrepresentation, breach of warranty, or the Alabama Extended Manufacturer’s Liability Doctrine. Each of these legal theories will have specific elements you must prove and can result in different outcomes. One or more of them may be appropriate for your situation. It is best to speak with an attorney about each of these options in relation to your food poisoning.

A food poisoning-related claim, no matter the underlying legal theory, is not easy to prove. In addition to the specific elements related to your legal claim, you will need proof the food product was contaminated, where that bacteria came from, and that the bacteria caused your injuries, which means utilizing laboratories for testing and hiring experts. A product injury lawyer can help you investigate the situation, gather evidence for your case, determine the strongest legal theory for your claim, and hire experts you can help you support your claim for compensation.

Contact Alabama Product Injury Lawyers

While food poisoning can be an unfortunate and uncomfortable event for some individuals, it can also be a serious illness that puts you in the hospital and leaves you with a long-term or permanent health problem. A food poisoning case based on product liability can be difficult, yet it is not impossible. At Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C., we have more than 65 years of experience in helping people recover compensation for their injuries. We are ready to look into your situation and advise you on the best course of action.

Call us today at (205) 933-1500 to schedule a free case consultation.