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Man filing food poisoning lawsuit against restaurant

Can You Sue A Restaurant For Food Poisoning In Florida?

As per the CDC, about 48 million people get sick every year due to foodborne illnesses. Many of these occur after dining at a specific restaurant.

This is why you may wonder if can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning. Luckily, you don’t have to look far to get the answer.

Below we have detailed everything you must know about can you a sue restaurant for food poising.

Can You Sue A Restaurant For Food Poisoning In Florida: An Overview

An infographic answering can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning in Florida

You can sue a restaurant for food poisoning by starting a lawsuit. This is especially true if the place gave you contaminated food.

However, you must have strong evidence against the defendant. Remember food poisoning can occur due to various reasons such as:

  • Undercooking of the food by the restaurant
  • Mishandling of food during preparation or serving
  • Improperly refrigerated food

A restaurant may serve you an undercooked steak which can act as a breeding ground for bacteria. This can lead to food poisoning after eating the item.

You can file a lawsuit against the restaurant if you believe it was their fault. Such a case mainly comes under the personal injury category.

How To Prove You Got Food Poisoning From A Restaurant

An infographic on how to prove you got food poisoning from a restaurant

Now that you know the answer to whether can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning, you may wonder about proving your claim.

Here are the top things that will help you:

1.  Medical Records

Your medical records will go a long way in proving food poisoning from a restaurant. A doctor can confirm whether you came to them with symptoms of food poisoning or not. Their time record may also help understand whether your dining time and presenting complaint time overlap.

For example, food poisoning usually develops 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to bad food. If you dined at a restaurant two weeks ago and now facing poisoning symptoms, it is unlikely for that restaurant to be at fault.

This is why your medical records can prove the timeline of poisoning overlaps with dining. They can also explain the cause of poisoning. For instance, you may be infected by bacteria usually found in undercooked food.

If you had an undercooked steak at a restaurant, this can be an indication of their fault. So always get medical attention if you experience poisoning symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastric pain
  • Cramps
  • Fever

Sometimes the symptoms may resemble the signs of stomach flu. A checkup at a hospital can help differentiate between such conditions and food poisoning.

2.  Statements By Others

Sometimes food poisoning affects a group of people and not just one person. This can happen if the restaurant doesn’t handle food properly and serves the same contaminated dish to many people.

Statements by other victims may help you strengthen your case and prove food poisoning. For instance, you may have dined at a restaurant with your wife and kids.

Everyone in your family may be experiencing poisoning symptoms. If so, you may be able to prove through their testimonies and medical records the poisoning cause is the same.

You may also file a police report or use a personal injury lawyer to find other guests who went to the restaurant the same day. They may also be experiencing food poisoning symptoms.

All of you may combine your medical records and file a class action lawsuit against the restaurant. You may also be able to get staff statements about the food handling.

For example, a staff member may come forward and inform you of how the cook contaminated the food.

Such solid evidence can help you win the lawsuit easily. The other party may also offer you an excellent settlement if they understand their fault.

3.  Keep The Food

Those who wonder can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning also think about whether they can keep contaminated food items. For instance, you may have found a bug in your food.

The restaurant may replace your food with a new dish to prevent you from complaining. However, you may have eaten a lot before realizing the bug was there.

In such cases, take immediate pictures of the food with the bug. You may also keep the food by telling the restaurant to pack it to go.

The pictures and actual food may correlate with your medical records. For instance, they may confirm the fly you found in your food is exactly one that causes a specific foodborne illness.

If your records match the poisoning conditions, it will be easy to win the case. You must also not touch the foreign object in your dish.

Another thing you may do is let other people with you see the contaminant and take its pictures. These individuals can serve as witnesses for you if you file a food poisoning lawsuit.

When you bring contaminated leftover food home, always store it in a freezer. Then call the local health department to get the dish tested for contaminants.

If the food test is positive for the same microorganism that caused your poisoning, you can prove the restaurant’s fault.

Types Of Compensation You Can Claim From A Food Poisoning Lawsuit

You may think about under what claims can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning. Typically, you can get compensation for economic or non-economic damages caused by the poisoning.

Seeking such compensation is possible under three main claims:

1.  Negligence Claim

A negligence claim is one of the common lawsuits to help you seek compensation after food poisoning. You’ll have to establish the restaurant’s duty of care towards you.

You may allege that the place failed to meet their duty and caused you harm. For example, a restaurant must cook food using FDA-approved products and under specific safety standards.

If the restaurant doesn’t meet these conditions, you can file a claim against them. Their negligence in maintaining care may have led to your food poisoning.

You can also hold the restaurant liable if their staff member engaged in negligence. This is called vicarious liability which mentions that on-duty employees act on their employer’s behalf.

A few examples of such a claim include:

  • The restaurant didn’t implement safe food-handling practices
  • A restaurant didn’t maintain proper temperatures for food storage in their facility leading them to use spoiled meat or vegetables
  • An employee may have acted carelessly by not washing hands or wearing gloves when handling food
  • The restaurant violates Florida’s health code

If a restaurant engages in such acts, you can start a lawsuit against them to seek compensation for economic damages and emotional suffering.

2.  Breach Of Warranty Claim

When learning about whether can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning, you must be aware of breach of warranty food poisoning claims.

Such a lawsuit occurs when a seller doesn’t live up to the expected warranty of their product.

A warranty is a promise of quality and safety that a seller offers to a customer. It can be expressed by the restaurant verbally or in written form.

The guarantee may also be implied. For example, if you’re dining at a restaurant it is implied that the dishes they offer are suitable for human consumption.

If the restaurant doesn’t live up to that guarantee by serving you contaminated food, it violates the law. This is called a breach of warranty claim under which you can seek financial compensation.

Sometimes the bacteria may lead to severe poisoning causing you to suffer from extensive medical bills. These economic damages can be covered under this claim.

However, you must prove the restaurant didn’t live up to their warranty.

3.  Strict Liability Claim

Most people who wonder about whether can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning believe they always have to prove fault. However, that is not true.

A strict liability claim is one such lawsuit for which you don’t have to prove the restaurant had fault. Instead, you must prove the following things to seek compensation:

  • The food was defective during the serving time and dangerous because of it
  • The restaurant had the intention of serving the food without changing it
  • You suffered harm due to the dish

A prime example of defective food is that it is contaminated or doesn’t contain warnings for dangerous ingredients. For instance, the item may have a fly in it.

In strict liability cases, you only have to show the food’s defect instead of the restaurant’s lack of care.

These food poisoning claims are difficult to win because the defense may use various arguments to reduce their liability.

They may also argue the poisoning organism came from some other food if you had another meal after dining at the restaurant.

When Is It Right To Sue For Food Poisoning In Florida?

An infographic explaining when is it right to sue for food poisoning in Florida

You may be curious when can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning. Filing a case at the right time and under the right conditions is necessary. Otherwise, the court would reject your claim.

Let’s look at the top three times which are right for suing for food poisoning:

1.  The Defendant Led To Direct Injury

You should file a claim when you experienced a direct injury because of the restaurant’s food. The typical injury poisoning cause is a food-borne disease.

If you had your first meal of the day at a restaurant without consuming it and suffered food poisoning, you can prove direct injury. This is especially true if you didn’t consume anything after the restaurant’s meal.

This can help you prove your illness didn’t arrive from other food or drinks. Such a case comes under the direct injury category.

Not consuming anything before the dining experience and after ensures a direct link between the restaurant’s food and your poisoning incident.

2.  You Suffered Expenses Due To Poisoning

The food-borne illness may cause you to suffer from different expenses. Firstly, you’ll have to pay hospital bills for any treatment you receive.

You may also lose income if you get sick during working hours and have to take an off from the office to go to the hospital.

The doctor may also admit you to the facility for a few days if an infectious organism is behind the poisoning.

This means you will lose wages for each day you stay in the hospital. Any emotional distress you experience because of the poisoning comes under non-economic damages.

If you suffered from any of these things, you can file a lawsuit to recover your expenses.

3.  The Defendant’s Actions Led To Food Contamination

You can also file a case if the defendant’s actions led you to consume defective food. For instance, a chef may have cooked a dish for you without following hygiene protocol.

A kitchen employee may also have added an expired ingredient to the food due to the lack of availability of a fresh one at the restaurant. These are examples of contamination done by the restaurant.

Some restaurants also freeze meat for longer causing it to exceed its freezing lifespan. Using that poultry for your dish will contaminate your food.

If you can prove the restaurant contaminated a dish intentionally or because of negligence, you must sue for food poisoning.

Common Food Poisoning Lawsuit Settlement Amounts

A study of plaintiffs has shown that they won about 31% of food poisoning trials. Proving the fault may be difficult but it is still achievable.

Sometimes the case may not go to court because the restaurant settles with you. Let’s look at some settlement examples of food poisoning:

1.  Food Poisoning After Eating At Wendy’s

Wendy’s is a famous fast-food chain that many of us have had at least once in our lives. Unfortunately, the restaurant led to mass food poisoning in 2022.

About 109 customers fell ill after having food at Wendy’s that year. A common feature of their orders was that they had burgers or sandwiches with romaine lettuce in it.

The vegetable was allegedly contaminated by E.coli. One of the victims’ families also launched a $16.1 million case against the chain for causing their young daughter to suffer from brain damage because of E. coli-infected food.

2.  International Café Wrongful Death Settlement

International Café in Greenwood County came under scrutiny for serving defective food. In 2020, John Laughlin ate wings and a rice dish at the restaurant.

After the meal, Laughlin suffered from diarrhea and severe vomiting. A day later he passed away because of the major food poisoning.

Upon a lawsuit by the deceased’s family, the restaurant was found guilty of storing food at improper temperatures.

Many other people also suffered from food poisoning after having the rice meal. The case was taken to trial and Laughlin’s family received a settlement of $800,000 for wrongful death.

3.  Jack In The Box Poisoning Settlement

One of the earliest precedents for food poisoning cases in the US was set by the case against Jack in the Box in 1993.

The fast food restaurant caused an E.coli outbreak affecting more than 400 customers. An investigation against the chain proved its hamburgers were the reason behind the outbreak.

A 9-year-old suffered from a coma because of the restaurant’s food poisoning incident. Her lawyer secured a $15.6 million settlement for economic and non-economic damages.

How Long Do You Have To File A Food Poisoning Lawsuit Against A Restaurant?

An answer post explaining the statute of limitations on a food poisoning lawsuit in Florida

You may wonder after how long can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning. In Florida, you must not wait more than two years to start a lawsuit against the seller.

The statute of limitations is valid for two years after which you cannot file a claim against the restaurant. Remember, the earlier you start your case, the faster you can settle.

Is It Worth It To Sue For Food Poisoning In Florida?

It is worth it to start a food poisoning lawsuit in Florida if you have strong evidence. You can secure a settlement of a few hundred thousand dollars to more than a million dollars.

The exact settlement figure will depend on the severity of the case. People who experience brain damage, coma, or severe GIT syndromes usually get higher compensation.


Can I Get A Refund From A Restaurant If I Got Food Poisoning?

It’s not likely for restaurants to offer refunds to customers complaining of food poisoning. They will deny the allegation to avoid damage to their reputation.

This is why filing a food poisoning lawsuit is the best way to seek compensation.

Can I Get Compensation For Food Poisoning?

You can get compensation for food poisoning if you can prove the restaurant’s negligence or breach of duty.

Who Is Responsible For Food Poisoning In A Restaurant?

The employer is liable for food poisoning in a restaurant. This is regardless of whether an employee made a mistake.

What Happens If I Get Food Poisoning From A Restaurant?

If you get food poisoning from a restaurant, you must file a lawsuit against them. You must also report the incident to the local health department. They will start an investigation against the place.

Hire A Personal Injury Attorney In Florida To File A Food Poisoning Lawsuit

The answer to can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning is yes. You must meet an expert lawyer to start the case. So contact us now for more legal information.

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