Food poisoning is no small matter. It could cause extreme illnesses and long-lasting health problems. Eating contaminated or toxic food could lead to symptoms that range from uncomfortable to deadly. Young children and the elderly are especially in danger if they contract food poisoning. Someone with a weakened immune system may not survive a serious food-related illness. In Nebraska, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against a party for food poisoning with the help of an Omaha product liability attorney.
Food Poisoning and Premises Liability
Food poisoning cases often fall under the umbrella of premises liability. It is a property owner’s responsibility to protect guests and visitors from unreasonable risks of harm. This includes risks of food poisoning if the property offers food items for free or for purchase. The owner of a restaurant, deli, grocery store, bar, cruise ship, amusement park or another enterprise that offers food must take precautions to ensure the safety and quality of the food. Any act of negligence that contributes to food poisoning could make the property owner liable for damages.
- Failing to comply with food safety standards
- Failing to properly store, refrigerate or cook foods
- Using rotten or spoiled foods
- Serving contaminated or undercooked foods
- Hiring incompetent food preparers
- Keeping an unsanitary kitchen or premises
Proving a liability lawsuit for food poisoning will require the victim’s attorney to establish the defendant committed a negligent act and that this act led to the victim consuming food that made him or her sick. Proving a food poisoning suit can be difficult since the victim’s attorney must show a connection between the food eaten and the illness contracted. If multiple people who ate at the same establishment have similar complaints, this could strengthen a claim against the owner.
Product Liability Lawsuits for Contaminated Food
Other food poisoning lawsuits hold food item manufacturers or distributors responsible for damages. Anyone who manufactures food products in the U.S. must comply with federal safety and quality standards. Failure to do so could result in contaminated or unsafe foods distributed to the masses. Most product liability lawsuits in Nebraska use the legal doctrine of strict product liability. The courts will hold a manufacturer strictly liable for damages if one of three food defects is present.
- Design defects: A design defect could make a food item spoil before it reaches consumers. Designing a package that is not airtight, for example, could cause food to rot or absorb contaminants in transit.
- Manufacturing mistakes: A manufacturing error could make an otherwise safe food item dangerous for consumption due to issues on the assembly line. An example is a batch of hamburger meat that raw chicken accidentally contaminates.
- Inadequate marketing: Marketing mistakes could also cause food poisoning. Failing to warn consumers to refrigerate an item that may spoil, for example, could cause serious illnesses.
If you ate a contaminated food item, the product manufacturer could be to blame. If the victim or his or her lawyer can prove the food item contained one of these defects, and that the item caused food poisoning, the victim could recover compensation without establishing the defendant’s negligence. Some defective food items make it on the national recall list, but others may not yet have enough consumer complaints.
When to Call a Product Liability Lawyer
You may have grounds for a food poisoning lawsuit if you suffered serious harm such as a major illness, missed time from work, pain and suffering, expensive hospital bills, or the loss of a loved one. An attorney may be able to establish a causal connection between your case of E. coli, listeria, salmonella or another illness and the defendant’s negligence. Otherwise, your lawyer may be able to bring a claim based on strict negligence. Hire a product liability attorney to help you establish that someone else negligently or intentionally caused your food poisoning in Omaha.