Almost everything we come in contact with carries some type of bacteria or virus, but your body’s natural defenses are usually enough to protect you from them. When you’re exposed to significant contamination through the foods you eat, however, you just might find yourself battling a case of food poisoning.
Despite how its name may sound, food poisoning doesn’t involve the addition of deadly poisons to food. Instead, the name refers to illness caused by the effects of certain bacteria, viruses, and parasites. When you eat contaminated food, your body attempts to purge the offending microbes and toxins in a rather unpleasant bout of sickness.
In most cases, people recover from food poisoning within a few hours or a couple of days. In some cases, however, symptoms may be present for as long as 1-2 weeks.
Food poisoning can be caused by a variety of different illness-causing germs (or “pathogens”) that can be spread in all kinds of ways. Some of the most common pathogens are the bacteria E. coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus, each of which can be present in various foods.
Foods can come into contact with pathogens at any stage of the process, from harvesting and processing to cooking and serving—that’s why the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provides guidelines on safe minimum temperatures for cooking meats.
Here are a few real-world situations that can lead to food poisoning:
The primary symptoms of food poisoning are fairly easy to guess; because it’s a food borne illness, it generally affects the digestive system. However, the exact symptoms a person will experience depend on factors like individual health and the type of pathogen causing the illness. In some cases, the symptoms may be so mild that they are attributed to other health issues.
If you experience symptoms like the following, you may want to be examined by your doctor for food poisoning:
If diarrhea and vomiting persist for more than three days, or if you have chills, fever, blood in your stool, blurry vision, or severe dehydration, you may need urgent treatment and/or IV fluids. Without treatment, severe cases can even be fatal.
If you get sick after eating at a restaurant, can you sue for food poisoning? The short answer is yes, if you’ve experienced major harm/losses and can show that it was caused by negligence on the part of the restaurant or its staff.
If the food poisoning is caused by contaminated ingredients that the restaurant had reason to believe were safe, your issue is with the company responsible for the contaminated products. If your food was undercooked, improperly washed, or cross-contaminated with bacteria during preparation, your issue is definitely with the restaurant.
One of the things that makes food poisoning lawsuit cases unique is that it can be somewhat difficult to confirm the link between the food you ate and the symptoms you’re experiencing. Not only is it possible for the symptoms to be caused by other digestive issues, it can also be hard to conclusively show that the food poisoning was the restaurant’s fault. Naturally, the more evidence you can provide—and the stronger that evidence is—the better your chances of winning your case.
As soon as you start feeling sick or suspect that you might become sick, begin taking detailed notes regarding your symptoms, what you ate, and any other relevant details (such as the cleanliness of the restaurant). If you notice halfway through your meal that something looks off, take a photo. If others who were with you also get sick, this can also provide support for your claims.
At Saunders & Walker P.A., we are experts in food poisoning and other cases involving personal harm. If something you ate made you sick but you’re not sure exactly who is liable for the incident, our expert food poisoning attorneys can help you examine your case and determine what your options are as a victim. We’ll also help you find the best possible evidence to prove the cause of your illness.
Food poisoning is so much more than just an upset stomach; it can make you miserable, take you away from work, and even land you in the hospital. If you think you might have a case for compensation, call (727) 579-4500 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation with a lawyer.