Personal Injury Lawyer
Let’s say you went to a neighbor’s gathering and ate a burger prepared and cooked by your neighbor. A few hours later, you became extremely ill. So ill that you missed your planned vacation to the beach and had to spend large amounts of money for medical care. You remain certain that the gathering, and particularly the burger, was the source and cause of your food poisoning. Are you able to sue your neighbor for food poisoning?
In Theory, Yes You Can File a Lawsuit. But…Can You Actually Win?
Filing a lawsuit against another person is not often a decision to take lightly. People do make mistakes, and when your neighbor is the suspected culprit of a case of food poisoning and a lost vacation, it actually might be a good idea to breathe and let it go. If this is not ideal for you, and you’re ready to go the distance by filing a food poisoning lawsuit, is there a chance you will win?
Technically, the neighbor can be found liable if it is proven that he or she was negligent. There are a number of obstacles to recovering compensation against a neighbor. This is primarily due to causation. For example, you, the guest, would have to prove that:
- You were poisoned
- The poisoned food came from your neighbor.
This is actually not very easy to prove. As the plaintiff, it will be your duty, or the lawyers duty, to bear the burden of proof. Just saying that you became ill a few hours after you ate a burger at your neighbors will likely not be enough proof. How then do you find out if it was the burger that made you ill and not another food item or unrelated illness?
To prove this, special testing will need to be conducted. These tests are expensive and could mean that you collect a numerical value which is less than worthwhile. It is also possible that a doctor or expert witness would have difficulty in testifying that the neighbors’ food was the actual culprit of the food poisoning.
Your Neighbor Versus a Restaurant
Even if it could be proven that your neighbor caused you to get food poisoning, he or she will likely only be held liable for negligence. The duty of care that a neighbor has to an invited host is minimal, and much less than a restaurant. If it is found that your neighbor did use proper ingredients and standard methods of preparing and cooking, they might not be found liable at all. On the other hand, if your neighbor purchased fresh ground meat for the burger and then failed to refrigerate it, there may be a case for liability.
Where the Money Comes From
Let’s say your neighbor admits that their burger may have been the cause of your food poisoning. Unless your neighbor agrees to reimburse you for your losses, you will bear the burden of collecting them on your own.
If your neighbors insurance policy covers food poisoning cases, then you may be able to file a claim. You would need to prove your neighbor was negligent. If there is no coverage, a lawsuit will need to be filed. This could include wage garnishment or going after your neighbor’s assets. There is absolutely no guarantee of success, and the process is very time consuming. Further the total amount of damages may not be large enough to pursue a lawsuit.
All of the above information should be well thought out before you proceed to file a lawsuit against your neighbor for food poisoning. If you believe a restaurant caused the food poisoning, file a lawsuit may be more practical, but should still be overseen by a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia, PA.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Wieand Law Firm, LLC for their insight into food poisoning and personal injury cases.