Imagine sitting down to a meal at a restaurant, banquet hall or food court. It seems like a nice enough place, the staff is courteous, and the choices on the menu are inviting. So, you place your order, your food is served, and you tuck into a filling, satisfying meal. (Or so it seems!) All seems well, so you pay for your meal and get on with the rest of your day or evening.
Ah, but a few hours later, all is most definitely not well at all. You find yourself rapidly becoming nauseated, with fever, chills, dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea. You’d love to just crawl into bed and stay there, but the constant wind-sprints to the bathroom make that impossible. And it doesn’t let up, so you have a miserable night.
The next morning you’re still in serious distress – going to work is out of the question, as is keeping down any food or drink – so you make your way to the nearest urgent care. The doctor asks, “How had you been feeling before you ate at the restaurant?” Fine, you answer, you’d felt fine all day. “What did you have to eat or drink after you left the restaurant, but before you started feeling sick?” Nothing, you reply. She then tells you: You have all the classic symptoms of food poisoning, and it’s likely from that restaurant at which you last ate. A blood or stool test is ordered, and the result is positive for a bacterium or parasite that classically presents itself as food poisoning due to contamination. The doctor places you on a course of medical treatment to treat you for food poisoning.
In the meantime, you wind up missing several days from work (and losing wages as a result), incurring medical expenses, and feeling absolutely miserable for a week or more. You might manage to avoid hospitalization – but if you have a particularly virulent strain of pathogen, or if you’re particularly vulnerable (for example, if you’re elderly, have an underlying illness or are immunocompromised), a lengthy inpatient hospital stay might be necessary. In some cases, food poisoning can be so severe as to be life threatening and possibly fatal.
After your medical treatment, you begin to investigate, and you learn that food poisoning can be contracted at a restaurant from unsanitary conditions or practices in the kitchen or food storage areas, poor personal hygiene by employees handling food, or food not being properly cold-stored or not being adequately cooked.
Can you have a legal recourse against the restaurant? In many cases, the answer is Yes. A restaurant’s unsanitary conditions or improper handling of food is a form of negligence; the resulting food poisoning is a form of personal injury; and the suffering, expense and disruption to your life it caused you are all forms of damages – and those damages are compensable under Pennsylvania law.
The trial attorneys at Rick Stock Law have decades of experience representing clients in all sorts of personal injury claims, including claims for food poisoning. If you suspect you may have been the victim of food poisoning from food consumed at a restaurant or similar vendor, call our office and ask to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced trial attorneys.