Richmond Food Poisoning Lawyer

The product liability attorneys of Marks & Harrison know how distressful it can be to realize that you or a loved one suffered food poisoning from a product you bought at the grocery store or a meal you enjoyed at a local restaurant.

Unfortunately, it happens all too often in Virginia and across the nation. For instance, more than 500 people around the country got sick from eating food at Chipotle restaurants in a string of widely reported contamination outbreaks in 2015.

As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports, every year in the U.S., there are:

  • 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses
  • 128,000 hospitalizations due to food poisoning
  • 3,000 foodborne illness-related deaths

Many cases of food poisoning result from negligent handling and preparation of food products. Those in the chain of distribution whose careless or reckless actions caused you or a loved one to suffer food poisoning should be held accountable.

Marks & Harrison can help you to pursue justice. Our product liability team features highly skilled and experienced lawyers. With nine offices located throughout Virginia, including Richmond, we are also available to meet with you right away and get to work on your case. Reach us today for a free consultation.

What is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is the term that describes the serious illnesses which result from consuming food contaminated by bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins produced by those organisms.

The most common cases of food poisoning involve illnesses caused by consuming meat, eggs, fruits or vegetables contaminated with:

Escherichia coli (E. coli)E. coli infection
Clostridium botulinumBotulism
Hepatitis AHepatitis

Rarely do people realize immediately that they have been infected. It may take a few hours or days before symptoms appear. Those symptoms will depend on the type of foodborne illness.

However, some general symptoms of foodborne illness include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in your stool
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe abdominal cramps
  • Fever and headaches
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Muscle aches.

The main concern with food poisoning is that it can lead to dehydration – especially if the victim is a child, elderly adult or a person with a weakened immune system or chronic illness. Other complications can include kidney failure (linked to E. coli) and birth complications (linked to listeria).

A doctor can diagnose a foodborne illness by conducting a physical examination, reviewing your history and, perhaps, conducting stool tests that are aimed at identifying the organism that made you sick.

What Are Common Causes of Food Poisoning?

A major challenge in a food poisoning lawsuit is identifying the source of your illness. This is especially true when a significant amount of time passes from the time you ate the contaminated food to when your symptoms appeared.

If the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Virginia Department of Health or a local government agency becomes involved in the investigation and identifies the source of the outbreak, it will help your ability to seek compensation for the harm you have suffered.

The investigation may reveal how negligent handling of the food allowed it to become contaminated. It may also pinpoint the stage at which the contamination occurred.

Examples of such negligence are:

  • Farm workers washing fresh fruits and vegetables with water contaminated with human sewage or animal manure or allowing meat to come into contact with intestinal contents that contain microbes
  • Kitchen workers failing to wash meat and produce before it is prepared and served to customers
  • Cooks or waiters handling food after using the bathroom without first washing their hands (which can spread shigella, hepatitis A and norovirus)
  • Kitchen workers using the same kitchen utensil or cutting board for different foods without washing between uses, which can allow microbes to spread to previously uncontaminated foods
  • Food preparers allowing fully cooked food to come into contact with raw food or drippings
  • A restaurant or store leaving food in warm, moist conditions for a prolonged period without refrigerating it (bacterial microbes reproduce in such conditions)

Depending on how and when the contamination occurred, several parties may be liable for your illness. Marks & Harrison will carefully investigate your case and consult with experts with the goal of identify all of those parties who should be held legally responsible in your case.

What Steps Should You Take If You Suspect Food Poisoning in Virginia?

In order to protect your health and your legal rights, make sure to take the following steps if you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered food poisoning:

  • Seek medical treatment. If you develop symptoms of foodborne illness, see a doctor right away. Food poisoning can become fatal if left untreated. An early diagnosis can also help to establish the source of your illness.
  • Report your illness. A government agency cannot investigate an outbreak of food poisoning if they do not know about it. Report your illness to your local health department. You can find contact information at the Virginia Department of Health. You can also go to to file a report online.
  • Keep everything. Do not throw away food you believe is contaminated or receipts from the store or restaurant where you bought the food. Also, you should store copies of your medical bills and receipts from any other illness-related expenses.
  • Write it down. Write down everything you recall about where you bought the food item, how your symptoms developed, when you were diagnosed and how your illness has impacted your life.

Taking all of these steps will help to prepare you for your initial consultation with Marks & Harrison. However, if you can complete only a few of these steps, do not let it stop you from contacting us and seeking the legal help you need.

Why Contact Our Richmond Food Poisoning Injury Attorneys?

When you suffer food poisoning in Virginia, your legal options may include seeking damages for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and more through a lawsuit based on theories such as:

  • Negligence – The failure of a store, restaurant or other party in the chain of distribution to use reasonable care when handling the food that was sold to you.
  • Breach of warranty – The failure of a food vendor to fulfill a basic promise – either express or implied – to sell you a product that is safe and fit for consumption.

As experienced product liability attorneys, Marks & Harrison knows how to fully explore and aggressively pursue all legal options available to you.

If several others have suffered foodborne illness from the same source – highly common in a food poisoning case – your case may become part of either a class-action claim or consolidated with several other lawsuits in multidistrict litigation (MDL). If your case becomes part of wider, mass tort litigation, we will make sure your rights and interests are protected through every stage of the process.

Because it is important to take efficient action in a food poisoning case in Virginia, contact Marks & Harrison today. We can provide a free consultation at our Richmond headquarters or any one of our eight other offices located throughout the commonwealth.

We are passionate about standing up for the rights of consumers. We are ready to get to work for you today.

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