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Food Poisoning is a Safety and Legal Issue

When dozens of runners from the Las Vegas “Rock and Roll” marathon posted on the event’s Facebook page how they fell ill during and after the marathon, Southern Nevada Health District swooped in. Fecal samples from several runners were tested to determine if the runners had a gastrointestinal illness, the stomach flu, or some other disease. Over 800 of the marathon participants then were required to fill out an online health survey for the Health District. Competitor Group, the marathon sponsor, also began an investigation into its water distribution process, which included water stored in plastic lined garbage cans, and is used for all its marathons, after several runners questioned whether this process was the cause of their illnesses.

With millions of visitors each year and thousands of restaurants and food services, Las Vegas takes food safety seriously. Whether from running in a restaurant or dining at an eatery, if you believe you have suffered a case of food poisoning you need to know what to do.

Food poisoning symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps or pain. Symptoms may begin immediately, within a few hours, or even days or weeks after eating the potentially contaminated food. Symptoms may last for a few hours to a day or even longer. When the symptoms are severe or include blood in the stool, continuous fever, trouble swallowing or speaking, vision issues, or muscle weakness, you should immediately seek medical attention. If your medical practitioner does not contact the health department, make sure you contact your local department to fill out a report so your potential case can be investigated and to also stop others from becoming ill.

Food poisoning disputes are usually based on a product liability assertion that the food was defective and the defect in the food caused injury. Under Nevada law, which is followed in Las Vegas, the three product liability assertions are strict product liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. If the food poisoning causes a fatality, affected families may also have a wrongful death lawsuit. Food poisoning disputes based on product liability must be brought within four years of the date on which the injury occurred. A Nevada wrongful death action must be filed within 2 years of the date of death.

Regardless of which cause of action is pursued, proving you have suffered food poisoning is a challenge because of the time delay between when the food was eaten and when one becomes ill, or seriously enough ill to visit a medical practitioner. If the food that is alleged to have caused the poisoning is not available for testing, lab tests on the individual must be done to show there is some type of bacteria, virus, or parasite present in the body. Generally, anyone involved in the food’s chain of distribution from processing to the ultimate seller may be responsible for damages.

The commentary is for educational and commentary purposes only. If you feel you have suffered from food poisoning, and would like to be represented by a Nevada attorney, contact our office for a free confidential case review, and receive a response within hours. Call Toll Free 866-414-0400