Ask yourself: when you hear news of a food recall, what do you do if you have that brand or food in your freezer? Throw it out? Take your chances? Not bother checking? This recent story may make you consider your course of action.
This month, Sea Port Products Corp voluntarily recalled a batch of scallops that were distributed to Hawaii, Nevada, and California after a connection was made between the scallops and an outbreak of Hepatitis A. The liver disease was found in over 200 people who consumed the raw scallops, and over 50 were hospitalized. This is no ordinary incident of food poisoning.
CNN reported the story and included photos of recent food products that have been recalled, including frozen mixed vegetables from Great Value and 10 million pounds of flour made by General Mills. These are large brands with millions of customers around the country. And you may be affected.
If You Get Sick from Contaminated Food
You may have already experienced an incident where a meal from a restaurant or food you bought at the grocery store made you sick. Most incidents of food poisoning only last for around 24 hours and then disappear.
But illnesses like Hepatitis A can produce symptoms for up to 50 days and require hospitalization. If your medical bills reach thousands of dollars for one bad meal, can you sue? Is it worth it to file a lawsuit?
Let’s look at the basics.
If you want to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for food poisoning or other medical illnesses caused by a food product, you will have to find the source of the contamination. Whether it is the manufacturer of the product or a chef who did not prepare a food to health and safety standards, this source will be the party you file your lawsuit against.
- The food you ate was contaminated
- The contamination of the food made you sick
You will have to present evidence to prove both points. If you were hospitalized over a food-related illness, for example, your hospital bills and records will be able to help you in court. But remember that you will also have to present proof of contamination in the food itself. It is important to start filing these cases immediately, because this makes it easier to gather the necessary proof.
Say you got sick from consuming a food before it was recalled by a government agency over listeria concerns. You may need to submit a stool sample to the court that tested positive for listeria. If you can prove that the symptoms you experienced come from listeria that were found in the food product in question, you may be able to receive compensation from the losses or damages that resulted from your illness.
Taking a food-related lawsuit to court is not as easy for cases that do not result in medical testing or records (for example, a night’s worth of vomiting from a restaurant meal). But when your illness involves recalled products like the Sea Port Products Corps scallops or Chipotle’s recent E. Coli controversy, you may have an easier time proving your case.
Each case is different, and similar cases may yield different results depending on the amount of evidence provided or illness that resulted. Contact a Florida personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation on your case and whether or not you should pursue legal action.
About the Author:
John K. Lawlor, a South Florida personal injury attorney who focuses his practice on complex personal injury, wrongful death, and professional malpractice, founded the law firm of Lawlor, White & Murphey in 1996. Since 1995, Mr. Lawlor’s trial advocacy and litigation skills, as well as his wide-ranging legal expertise, have provided plaintiffs and their families with a distinct advantage when seeking financial compensation and justice for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Lawlor is an EAGLE member of the Florida Bar Association and an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Broward County Justice Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several professional associations.