Suing When Food Poisoning Leads to Wrongful Death

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You often hear on the news about food poisoning outbreaks that sicken scores of people and even kill some. You never think that it will happen to you or your loved one. The unfortunate fact is that restaurants and food manufacturers may have safety lapses that can sicken people.

If your family member died from food poisoning, you may be able to sue for wrongful death.

Contact the Abbeville wrongful death lawyers at Hite Law Firm to learn how you can file a lawsuit.

What Is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is when you are sickened by a toxin that is contained in foods that you consume. When you ingest certain germs, they will cause serious symptoms and dangerous effects in your body.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 3,000 people die each year in the United States from food poisoning. Some of these are more localized occurrences. For example, in 2015, a poorly maintained nacho cheese machine in a gas station caused a botulism outbreak that killed a customer.

Other fatalities occur during national outbreaks. In 1998-99, tainted products from one hot dog manufacturing plant were shipped throughout the country, resulting in an outbreak of listeria. Fourteen people died from food poisoning.

Examples of Food Poisoning

The type of food poisoning depends on the bacteria. Some of the most dangerous cases of food poisoning are:

  • Listeria: A bacteria that acts as an intracellular parasite in mammals. Listeria can lead to sepsis and meningitis. This type of food poisoning may be the most dangerous, with a fatality rate of around 25%.
  • Salmonella: A bacterial disease that affects the intestine. Salmonella usually results from food that is tainted by feces. Salmonella can cause typhoid fever and septic shock.
  • E. coli: A group of bacteria that lives in your intestines. There are highly harmful forms of e-coli that originate from feces. Food handlers can spread E-coli when they do not properly wash their hands.
  • Norovirus: An illness that is often caused by tainted shellfish or salads. Norovirus results from fecal-to-oral contact and happens when there are insufficient measures to ensure cleanliness. Norovirus is dangerous because one person can transmit the disease through the air, making outbreaks common on cruise ships.
  • Campylobacter: A common form of food poisoning caused by bacteria. This type of food poisoning usually does not cause serious injuries, but people may suffer from extended gastric illness.

Dangerous Practices That Can Cause Food Poisoning

You never quite know what to expect when you purchase food from any source. You do not know how it has been handled, nor do you know the safety standards that the seller has followed. Some of the common unsafe practices that can lead to food poisoning include:

  • Uncooked or undercooked meat or poultry products
  • Purchasing food from unsafe sources
  • Storing food at the incorrect temperature
  • Poor personal hygiene from someone who is handling the food (spreading bacteria that is associated with fecal matter)
  • Using food that is past its expiration date

One of the more notorious incidents of mass food poisoning was the Chipotle e. coli outbreak. In this case, Chipotle both purchased food from an unsafe source and then poor food handling practices allowed the bacteria to spread to other products. Some food sellers may have been just plain careless, while others cut corners in the name of profits.

Defendants in a Food Poisoning Lawsuit

Food poisoning lawsuits are a form of product liability cases. The rule in these cases is that you can sue anyone who was in the stream of commerce. Here are some possible defendants in a food poisoning case:

  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Manufacturers
  • Food distributors
  • Processors
  • Suppliers

Your attorney would investigate the cause of your family member’s fatal illness and figure out which defendants can be added to your lawsuit. If you were sickened at a restaurant, you would likely sue the restaurant directly instead of the food supplier.

Contact an Attorney to File a Lawsuit for Food Poisoning

If a loved one has died because of food that they ate, your family may be entitled to financial compensation when you can prove that it was someone else’s fault. The Hite Law Firm has successfully represented clients who have lost loved ones to food poisoning. For example, we obtained a settlement on behalf of an estate when a man died from food poisoning after eating at a local restaurant in Greenwood, SC. You can schedule a free initial consultation by calling us today at 864-664-2252 or by sending us a message online.

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