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Food poisoning claims

Restaurants, airlines, cruise liners or anywhere else that serves food, like any other service provider, owe their customers a duty of care, meaning they are responsible for their customer’s health and safety. Any breach of that duty, resulting in food poisoning (be it intentional or unintentional), could lead to a compensation claim against the restaurant’s owner.

Food poisoning can have a number of causes, although the most common is uncooked food or poorly handled / maintained food. The resulting bacteria is what causes food poisoning, which in turn can result in the customer becoming extremely ill and in some cases can also be fatal. In most cases it is likely to result in illnesses such as salmonella, listeria and e-coli.

The symptoms of food poisoning can present themselves within hours of consuming the food or even after a couple of days. The most common symptoms are: vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, a temperature, muscle pains, shivering and tiredness. Of course these are symptoms that are also associated with other illnesses and medical advice should be sought as soon as possible to determine whether or not the symptoms are due to food poisoning.

What can I claim compensation for? 

In order to make a compensation claim the customer would actually have to suffer from food poisoning as a direct result of eating in the restaurant. A claim cannot be made for bad food or uncooked food. There is no legal recourse for a customer in this situation and any compensation for this would be at the discretion of the restaurant.

Food poisoning compensation claims are not restricted to restaurants in the UK. For example, if you suffer from food poisoning whilst eating from a restaurant within your hotel whilst on holiday you can make a claim against the restaurant or your tour operator and this claim can be brought when you get back to the UK.

How much compensation can I claim?

The amount of compensation that will be paid will depend on the seriousness of the food poisoning and it most cases it is unlikely to be substantive. It will also cover the cost of any expenses (medical or otherwise) and any loss of income. The idea is that the compensation should as far as possible return the claimant to the position they would have been had they not suffered from food poisoning.

Making a claim

Anyone who has suffered loss as a result of another party’s negligence (in these cases the customer in the restaurant) can make a compensation claim. However, they should bring their claim within three years of the date they got food poisoning (two years in the case of some holiday claims). In the case of a child the claim can be made within three years of the child’s 18th birthday. Nevertheless, you should obtain the advice of a personal injury solicitor immediately who will be able to advice on the time limits further.

Making a compensation claim will not usually cost the claimant anything. Your personal injury solicitor will work on your on a no win no fee basis. Whilst most people know what this means, in short, it means that if you lose your case you will not have to pay any legal costs, whilst if you win your costs will be paid by the restaurant’s insurance company (insurance which they must have in place by law).