Food poisoning is never a pleasant experience, but a serious case of it can land a person in the hospital- or worse, if they have contracted viruses such as E. coli, listeria or salmonella from contaminated food.  Who can forget the tragic incident that occurred to a seventeen-year-old girl who died from Salmonellosis, while aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Explorer of the Seas, after ingesting bacteria-ridden food.  Chipotle Mexican Grill grabbed some unwanted attention back in 2015 after separate E. coli and norovirus incidents were linked to a number of their restaurants.  The food poisoning affected hundreds of patrons in several states.  In total, 43 restaurants were shut down.

The number of food poisoning and food-related illnesses is staggering.  The CDC estimates 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States. Severe cases of food poisoning can cost a person thousands of dollars in hospital bills and lost wages if they end up having to miss work due to illness. In these such cases, filing a lawsuit is an appropriate course of action to take against the cruise line, restaurant, grocery story, or other business establishment. The attorneys at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers regularly represent individuals who have fallen ill due to unsafe and careless food practices by cruise lines, restaurants and business establishments.

What Is Food Poisoning? 

Food poisoning involves someone consuming food that has some type of bacteria or virus on it that causes the person who ate the food to become ill. Food poisoning can occur in a variety of different ways. If the food was prepared by someone who was sick with a contagious disease or had unclean hands, the food can be contaminated. The same result would occur if the food was prepared with unclean cooking utensils. Essentially, any bacteria that can spread from the contaminated person or surface to the food to another person, can result in someone getting food poisoning. Certain risks come with consuming uncooked or undercooked meat. If meat is undercooked, bacteria can develop. If the food is not properly stored and kept at safe temperatures, bacteria can develop, as well.

Symptoms of food poisoning tend to manifest quickly, anywhere from two to six hours after eating the contaminated food. The side effects can last up to 48 hours and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, fever and headache. If someone does have food poisoning, it is important that he or she try to retain as much fluid as possible since dehydration can quickly result if the food poisoning effects go on for too long.  

Proving Food Poisoning

Proving food poisoning is not always an easy task. While it can be easy to show that someone is sick, it is not always possible to trace exactly what it was that caused the person to become ill. To bring a successful claim for food poisoning, the individual must show that the food he or she ate was contaminated, and the contamination led to their illness. 

Food Poisoning Liability

Most food poisoning cases fall under the category of “product liability.” By saying that the matter is an issue of product liability, the assumption is that the injury or illness resulted from a defective product (i.e. – the contaminated food). The legal theory used to handle these cases is strict liability. Many states have adopted strict liability for handling food poisoning cases. Under strict product liability, the injured party must show that the food that he or she ate was contaminated, and because of this contamination, the individual became ill. Because most food poisoning cases involve strict liability, the injured party will not need to prove that the restaurant was negligent in how it handled the food.

Who Is the Liable Party? 

When it comes to a product liability case, the chain of distribution is key. This chain involves who has handled the food from its preparation to when it is delivered to the consumer. With food poisoning, however, this contamination can occur at any part of the process. It can originate as early as the slaughterhouse or farm from where the food was purchased to the retailer, such as a restaurant, cruise line or grocery store. It can also originate from an employee who handled the food at the place where it was purchased or consumed. In these situations, if it is an employee who is responsible for the contamination, the employer is normally considered the responsible party under the theory of vicarious liability.

What Are the Damages Associated with Food Poisoning?

To bring a legal claim, the “injured party” needs to have some type of injury or damages resulting from the food poisoning. In food poisoning cases, the extent of these damages depends on just how serious the food poisoning was. If the individual was hospitalized from food poisoning, the amount of money that would be awarded to the injured person would be greater in comparison to a person who was sick for 24 hours and did not require medical attention. In food poisoning liability cases, the injured person can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost income, any other out-of-pocket expenses, as well as pain and suffering and emotional distress. An attorney who is experienced in food poisoning cases and products liability can advise the client on what damages are relevant for his or her case.

Next Steps

If you have been a victim of food poisoning, it is important you contact an attorney who is experienced in handling these types of cases. An individual personal injury case is usually how these cases are handled, but in situations where many victims have all reported food poisoning from the same establishment, they may be able to join forces in a class action lawsuit.


If you have been a victim of food poisoning and have suffered physical ailment, had to miss time from work or have medical bills as a result of the incident, it is very important to consult with an experienced food poisoning attorney immediately.  Time is of the essence when it comes to these types of claims, and it is important you are seen by a medical professional as soon as the food poisoning is suspected.  It is also important to save your receipt from the restaurant or grocery store where the food was purchased. Spencer Aronfeld is a Board Certified Trial Lawyer, and he and the lawyers at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers understand Florida’s complex personal injury laws. We have fought hard since 1991 to protect the legal rights of the injured. Contact us today and speak with an experienced Miami personal injury attorney toll free 1-866-597-4529, local 305-441-0440, or by email.  We offer a free initial consultation at your home, office, hotel or hospital.  Call us today, we are ready to help.