Food poisoning claims
If you’ve eaten something that you suspect might have given you food poisoning what do you do?
There are many food, hygiene and safety standards that food establishments are obligated to meet so that food is safe for consumption. However, these standards aren’t always followed and for many people a trip to the restaurant can result in a trip to the doctor – maybe even A&E or worse.
If you have found yourself in that unfortunate situation, you may wish to talk to someone to find out whether you may be able to claim compensation.
What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning is the result of a person eating contaminated food. These contaminations can emerge if safety guidelines are not followed such as:
- not cooking food thoroughly
- not storing food correctly
- leaving cooked food sitting too long at warm temperatures
- serving chilled food at higher than optimal temperatures
- not properly reheating previously cooked food
- someone touching food when they are ill or have dirty hands
- cross-contamination such as using one chopping board for multiple foods
As a lot of issues around contamination relate to the cooking or storage of foods it is common for poisoning cases to involve meat, dairy or seafood.
What types of food poisoning is there?
Food poisoning happens when foods become contaminated and a food is deemed to be contaminated if it contains a pathogen. A pathogen is a biological organism like a virus, bacteria, worm or fungus that causes diseases.
Common diseases that are associated with food poisoning include:
Salmonella – this is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. Salmonella bacteria live in animal and human intestines and are shed through faeces. Life-threatening complications also may develop if the infection spreads beyond your intestines.
Escherichia coli (E.coli) – bacteria found in the digestive systems of many animals, including humans. Most strains are harmless but some can cause serious illness. Most cases of E. coli poisoning occur after eating undercooked beef or drinking unpasteurised milk.
Campylobacter – this infection happens when people eat raw or undercooked poultry, or even simply eating something that touched it (this is an example of when cross contamination from chopping boards can play a part). People can also get it from other food sources though such as seafood or dirty drinking water.
Norovirus – the virus that most commonly causes diarrhoea and vomiting. It's easily spread from person to person through contaminated food or water. Raw shellfish, particularly oysters, can also be a source of infection.
Listeria – found in a range of chilled "ready-to-eat" foods including pre-packed sandwiches, cooked sliced meats, pâté and soft cheeses (such as Brie or Camembert) should be eaten before their "use-by" dates. Pregnant women especially at risk as listeria can cause birth complications or even miscarriage.
How long after eating something would it take before you became ill?
Symptoms of any kind of food poisoning usually begin within one day of eating contaminated food. However, some people may find it takes longer before they present signs of poisoning. This is known as the “incubation period”, which is common as conditions manifest themselves differently in individuals.
But when poisoning does take hold, commonly reported symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps
- A lack of energy/weakness
However you were poisoned and however it manifests itself it is important to speak to your Doctor for medical assistance.
Speaking to your GP is important for more than just your immediate welfare. They can run tests which can identify the pathogens linked to your illness, which can help us prove that your illness resulted from a specific food which was contaminated.
Investigating food poisoning claims
There is little difference between food poisoning from a restaurant and poisoning from a shop, such a pre-packed sandwiches at a supermarket.
Consumer Protection Act 1987 covers consumers regardless of where the food was purchased from. It offers a strong legal foothold to build a case as it makes clear that if the source of the poisoning, infection or allergic reaction can be directly linked to a certain product then a 'strict liability' rule applies. This means the food producer can be held accountable for your injury and subsequent losses.
In the case of food poisoning arising from food bought in a restaurant, takeaway or café, we may not need to hold a manufacturer to account as we can hold the seller liable under contract in terms of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
How do our solicitors investigate a food poisoning case?
When you come to Digby Brown for help with your food poisoning claim there are several key steps to each case:
Your statement – we take details of what you ate, where you ate and how the poisoning affected you.
Access reports – we gather inspection and hygiene reports from the local authority or other required bodies as we investigate the circumstances surrounding what happened. We may also liaise with Food Standards Scotland or Health Protection Scotland who often carry out wider investigations that could support your case.
Medical records – with your permission we access these records which will help confirm that the poisoning occurred – and that a food borne pathogen was present. It will also provide details of dates, symptoms and any other relevant information that may be helpful.
Skilled Reports – We ask expert microbiologists to analyse the circumstances, dates, medical records, food type and pathogen. This helps us to prove the case and succeed in obtaining damages from the seller or producer of the food.
Intimate the claim – we write to the seller of the food and inform them, in legal terms, why we hold them liable and what we want them to do to make things right. Usually, we seek a significant financial settlement in line with the level of suffering the victim of the poisoning has endured.
Food analysis – the need to analyse food is rare but if there is a need, then we have the resources and access to experts to do this.
Liaise with insurer – we engage with the other side to negotiate the settlement of your case.
Food poisoning claims are a very specialist case type that falls under product liability law – which in turn is a specialist area of personal injury work. This is why you need an independent legal team which has the resources, expertise and reputation to get you rightful damages.
No win no fee personal injury solicitors
The expression “No Win – No Fee” is often used in personal injury cases. It is used as a way of funding a compensation claim where the accident victim does not have the means to pay for the costs involved as the case progresses.
A number of solicitors are prepared to handle personal injury cases on a “No Win – No Fee” basis but very few are able to offer their clients complete protection if the case is unsuccessful.
In that event, the client could end up being liable for many thousands of pounds in legal expenses or the case won't be fully investigated and therefore likely to under-settle.
Compensate 'no win no fee' funding
Digby Brown has its own funding company, Compensate, which provides the funding to allow the case to be fully investigated, employ the best experts surrounding the circumstances of the accident and/or injuries sustained and where and if necessary go to court.
If for whatever reason the case is unsuccessful, Compensate pays all your legal expenses and those of your opponent – you pay nothing.
On average our clients receive over 3 times the pre-litigation offer
Because of Compensate funding Digby Brown's success rate is extremely high and on average our clients receive three times the pre-litigation offer.
In the event the case is successful, a small percentage of your damages will be deducted with VAT to pay for this service. The percentage which Compensate will charge depends on the degree of risk involved. We believe that this is the fairest method of giving clients access to justice whilst ensuring their cases are fully investigated, prepared and funded.
Beware of compensation offers which may be too good
We know you will have seen many adverts offering 100% compensation or telling you that you will not lose any of your compensation, however we believe there are a number of problems with companies that do this.
- How do they make their money if they don’t charge you anything?
- If they aren’t taking any money from you, the client, what incentive do they have to ensure you receive the right level of compensation, appropriate to the injuries you have sustained?
- Fully preparing a case, finding out exactly what happened and what the consequences of your injuries may mean in the long term, is expensive, how do they do this properly?
- If they aren’t fully preparing these cases will they just accept the first offer they are given on your behalf by the Insurance company?
- It makes simple business sense, the less work they do the higher their profit margin is - they simply have no incentive to work harder on your behalf.
- These adverts in the main are from English firms on national television which operates in a different way and therefore wouldn’t apply to a Scottish person.
We know from the many client cases we mandate from other firms of solicitors (in the main at the request of the client who is extremely unsatisfied with the service received for the other firm) that many shortcuts are taken in preparation and that the first offer received is being recommended for acceptance, regardless of the value.
Getting something for nothing is usually the first sign of poor service.
Correct level of compensation with Digby Brown
Our experience and statistics show time and time again we will achieve the correct level of compensation which will be substantially more than the insurer is initially prepared to offer.
Even after we have deducted our percentage as a success fee you will gain considerably more than you would have achieved using a 100% compensation model.
Contact Digby Brown's personal injury solicitors
For further information about no win no fee, or anything else, call us on 0333 200 5925 or fill in our enquiry form below and someone will get back in touch with you.
Digby Brown helps victims of food poisoning
We have an established track record of claiming compensation on behalf of clients affected by food poisoning.
In 2018 we lodged multiple legal actions against supermarkets following a listeria outbreak across the Central Belt of Scotland. The listeria outbreak resulted in stores like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Iceland, Lidl and Aldi recalling items like frozen corn, peas and spinach from their shelves after a series of deaths across Europe sparked a warning from official food standards groups.
In 2016 an outbreak of E.coli 0157 sadly resulted in one death and 17 people being hospitalised. After an investigation from Health Protection Scotland (HPS) there was thought to be a link between the cases and a batch of unpasteurised blue cheese. Mark Gibson, Head of Product Liability, helped these victims with their legal actions against the makers of the cheese.
In 2014 a number of people who visited The Hydro in Glasgow also fell ill following E.coli poisoning – an outbreak that was later linked to undercooked beef burgers. We helped victims affected by this outbreak recover fair compensation.
Speak to our specialist food poisoning lawyers
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