Contaminated, under-cooked, or otherwise unsafe food causes 48 million Americans to suffer from food poisoning every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these cases, approximately 128,000 people are hospitalized, and another 3,000 are killed. If you suffered food poisoning at a restaurant, you may be wondering whether or not you have grounds to sue—especially if you didn’t go to the hospital.
The truth is, it is possible for victims of food poisoning to win a personal injury lawsuit against the restaurant, even if you were not hospitalized. While staying in the hospital and receiving treatment for food poisoning is a major expense, it is not necessarily the only cost associated with food poisoning. You may still be able to collect damages for:
- Loss of income: If your food poisoning prevented you from going to work, you could seek compensation for that lost income.
- Pain and suffering: The physical toll of food poisoning is extremely serious, as it can cause extreme pain, dehydration, and other dangerous symptoms. Courts recognize that food poisoning is a painful and difficult ordeal, and in most cases you could win a damage award for pain and suffering.
It is important to keep in mind that food poisoning cases are often difficult to prove and win. In order to mount a successful food poisoning lawsuit, you must prove the exact cause of your symptoms (i.e. what dish was contaminated, undercooked, or made unsafe by the restaurant), which can be difficult. The easiest way to determine the exact cause of the sickness is to run medical tests and locate the pathogen that made you sick. However, if you did not receive medical attention, you may still be able to prove your case (although it may be more difficult). An experienced personal injury lawyer can consult the local health department to see if it has any record of unsanitary conditions at the restaurant in question; this report can bolster your case, showing the establishment has a history of unsafe food preparation.
Whether or not you were hospitalized after a food poisoning incident, it is best to consult a personal injury attorney early on in the process. An experienced lawyer can help you determined whether or not you have a case and the best way to proceed.