Food poisoning is an extremely unpleasant experience, especially for individuals with weak immune systems, young children and the elderly. Over 48 million Americans contract food poisoning each year. Over 3,000 of them die from the illness.
Viruses, bacteria and parasites found in food cause the majority of food poisoning cases. Occasionally, contaminants such as heavy metals cause the illness. However, the majority of cases in the United States are a result of viruses or bacteria. Cross contamination in a home kitchen causes most food poisoning cases in the United States.
Large Outbreaks of Food-Borne Illnesses
While most food poisoning incidents are individual situations, sometimes a large-scale outbreak can occur from contaminated consumer food products. The majority of businesses use sanitary and safe procedures for processing, manufacturing, packaging and delivering the food we eat. Unfortunately, human error and greed allow a small percentage of contaminated products into the supply chain. The results can be devastating to a large segment of society.
For those instances where a consumer product caused the illness, the individual can seek damages from the company to pay for medical bills, long-term health effects, pain, suffering and lost time from work.
Steps to Hire a Food Poisoning Attorney
Losses from food poisoning can be devastating. Hiring a competent personal injury attorney is important to obtaining damages to recover those losses. Here are several tips to hiring a competent attorney.
1. Ensure the attorney is follows the industry standards for ethics. Attorneys must follow the Rules of Professional Conduct. These rules restrict an attorney from soliciting clients. A lawyer cannot contact a prospective client or ask another individual to call on his or her behalf. This is against the regulations and violates professional conduct. In addition, the rule covers the practice of offering something in exchange for hiring the attorney. Personal injury lawyers who do this are unethical.
2.Check the experience of the attorney in handling food poisoning cases. Food safety laws are complex. In addition, the subject requires a thorough knowledge of technical topics such as microbiology, epidemiology, food sanitation and safety, infectious disease, and gastrointestinal treatment. In addition, a food poisoning attorney should have considerable trial experience. If the attorney has a proven record of accomplishment at trial, the insurance companies are more likely to settle for a larger amount instead of going to court.
3. Check the lawyer's record of obtaining large settlements or verdicts for victims of food-borne illnesses. This is a key indicator of the success and knowledge of a personal injury lawyer. Any attorney can claim to be an experienced food poisoning attorney. However, only a few have consistently won large monetary awards on behalf of victims. Prior to hiring an attorney, ask specifics about large settlements or verdicts he or she has won.
4. Investigate the possibility that the attorney may be seeking publicity. Some attorneys file food poisoning lawsuits within weeks of an outbreak. In many such situations, the main reason is to attract exposure in the media to gain more clients. That may benefit the attorney. However, it may make life more difficult for the client. A competent personal injury lawyer will properly investigate the details, meet with doctors, obtain medical records and speak with family and friends to define the victim's losses before talking to the media.
5. Ensure the attorney has the willingness and time available to put together a case thoroughly. A food-borne illness lawsuit takes a significant investment of resources, energy and time. A food poisoning attorney in Miami must be able to focus on the client's individual case.
6. Check the staff and investigative services the attorney uses. A competent food poisoning attorney will have access to excellent paralegals, epidemiologists and nurses. In addition, that lawyer should have professional relationships with the top academics and doctors who serve as expert witnesses.
The court system is complex, and trying to navigate that system is nearly impossible for anyone without representation from an attorney. Insurance companies have lawyers on staff to defend them. It takes a competent and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to seek the maximum amount in damages possible and to protect the rights of the victim of food-borne illness.