Restaurants And Food Poisoning: When Should You Sue?

Posted on: 21 July 2015

If you've ever suffered from a case of food poisoning, you know how horrifying the experience can be. The condition comes with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea and can make for several miserable days. If you contract food poisoning from a meal served at a restaurant, you may have grounds to sue. But before you take that step, you need to consider several factors.


Food poisoning can be hard to prove. If you become ill shortly after eating out, you may believe that it was caused by your fiesta grilled chicken or that big juicy steak, but you will have difficulty proving it. The management will point out that the cause of your illness could be something else you ate that day or a virus you caught from your coworkers. Even if you have a sample of the suspect food in a doggie bag, you cannot prove that nothing happened to it after you left the restaurant. In short, it's a tough legal sell. 


Several days of feeling nasty are not enough reason to sue a restaurant. You need to have suffered substantial harm. If you lost income, accrued medical bills, and experienced significant pain and suffering, pursuing a lawsuit may be worth your time and trouble. 


Provided that you can obtain a diagnosis of food poisoning from a doctor, you may be able to make a case for negligence if you can show that the establishment did not exercise "reasonable care" in preparing and serving your food. Improperly storing and cooking your poultry, for instance, would be an act of negligence on the part of a restaurant as would improper refrigeration. Obviously health code violations at the restaurant will strengthen your case. Also, if others became ill at the same time, you will be much more likely to win your legal action.

Product Liability

In states with product liability laws, your case will be easier to make. You just need to prove that the product served to you was defective and not that the establishment was negligent. If you are served a dish swimming in salmonella, the restaurant is liable. Period.

After vomiting profusely or spending the night in the bathroom, you may be ready to seek restitution as well as legal help. Just remember that a few miserable days may not be reason enough to bring a lawsuit. If you do experience loss of income and serious physical pain, seeking a legal solution may be justified. First, verify that you do have food poisoning. Then search for a professional personal injury lawyer, like those at the Gallagher Law Offices PC.