July 16, 2007: Got Food Poisoning? Protect Your Rights!

Got Food Poisoning?

With the recent spate of food poisoning outbreaks, I thought it would be a good idea to remind people about what to do to protect their rights if they or a family member are harmed by contaminated food.

Often a restaurant or the manufacturer of a defective food product will try to get in touch with you if you’ve become ill during a food poisoning outbreak. Manufacturers will also
instruct customers to call their toll-free hotline for information, and to dispose of any of the tainted product still in their possession. Companies will also advise anyone who has purchased the product to return it to the store, even if it’s never been opened.

Doing any of these things doesn’t protect your rights, it protects the company! If you still have the tainted product in your possession that can be important evidence. Once that evidence is turned over to the manufacturer there is no guarantee that it will ever be available to the customer again.

If you contact the manufacturer, or the manufacturers’ representatives or lawyers contact you, they are making an effort to limit their liability and protect the company, not the consumer. They may certainly be apologetic for the harm their product has caused, but the bottom line is that they would prefer not to compensate victims for what they’ve suffered. You should also be aware that any conversations a victim has with a manufacturer are likely to be recorded and can be used as evidence by the manufacturer.

You don’t have to make a decision about whether or not to sue a manufacturer or restaurant right away. Your first concern is your health or that of your family member. But once you’ve had time to think about your experience, you may decide that seeking compensation is the best way to go. If you’ve protected your rights, then you’ve got a much better chance to win your case.

Therefore, we advise our clients NOT to call the manufacturer and NOT to return the product or the packaging. For more information, see Client Instructions.

By Eric H. Weinberg

Please see Listeria Lawsuit and E. Coli Lawsuit to learn more about our involvement in food poisoning litigation.