Food poisoning can not only cause significant injury, and in some severe cases even death, it can also put a major financial burden on victims in terms of lost wages, medical costs, and other expenses. According to the CDC, though, only a small number of food poisoning cases are reported. Of the cases reported, however, “norovirus was the most common agent and salmonella was the second most.” While poultry, beef, and fish are often the top three culprits, food poisoning can also occur from contaminated fruits and vegetables, and any products using any of these food items.
Food contamination can occur in the harvest, sanitation, preparation, or storage processes. According to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Health Division the 5 major risk factors that contribute to food borne illnesses are improper handling temperatures, inadequate cooking, contaminated equipment, food from unsafe sources, and poor personal hygiene.
If you believe you have suffered from a food poisoning injury, it is important to consult a Nevada attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights. A Nevada attorney specialized in food safety issues will review your case, contact the proper health authorities to prevent further outbreaks, ensure you receive adequate health care, and file a case against anyone who may be the cause of the food defect.
In Nevada, food poisoning cases generally fall under a product liability assertion – strict product liability, negligence, or breach of warranty. Under strict product liability, once it is proven that the food product was defective and that the defective product caused injury, the manufacturer or supplier is liable. That the manufacturer or supplier exercised sufficient care to ensure the safety of the food is not a defense to strict product liability.
In addition to alleging strict product liability, food poisoning victims can also bring a cause of action against a manufacturer or supplier on the basis that the manufacturer or supplier was negligent (did not take enough care or perform enough safety procedures) over the food product to ensure the food product was not contaminated, that such lack of care caused the food to be contaminated, that the contamination caused injury, and there are damages. Though Nevada has not adopted a specific test in determining the manufacturer’s or supplier’s negligence the standard of proof is that the manufacturer or supplier failed to exercise “reasonable care.”
Breach of warranty occurs in a food poisoning case when an express or implied warranty from the manufacturer or supplier that the food product is fit for consumption is violated.
If a victim dies from food poisoning, a wrongful death suit may also be brought by the victim’s family and/or loved ones. If it can be shown that a large group of people became ill from a food defect, the victims may join together and file a class action lawsuit.