Personal Injury Law: Can a Restaurant Be Sued for Food Poisoning in Washington?
September 22, 2021 – Matt Albrecht
Food poisoning remains a serious safety concern. The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reports that nearly 50 million cases of foodborne illness (food poisoning) happen nationwide each year. While most foodborne illnesses are relatively minor, there are plenty of exceptions—with more than 100,000 people being hospitalized for food poisoning on an annual basis.
This raises an important question: Can you sue a restaurant for food poisoning? The short answer is ‘yes’—though proving liability in a foodborne illness case can sometimes be challenging. Here, our Spokane personal injury lawyer provides an overview of the most important things to know about food poisoning illness claims in Washington State.
Washington Law: Restaurants Owe a Duty of Care to Patrons
Under Washington State law (Chapter 246-215 WAC), restaurants and other foodservice providers have a legal responsibility to ensure that they are utilizing proper food safety practices. In many cases, foodborne illness outbreaks occur because a restaurant—or other food service company—failed to take adequate safety precautions. Some notable examples of negligence that can lead to food poisoning include:
- Not cleaning or sanitizing food prep/food storage areas;
- Not ensuring food is properly refrigerated;
- Not throwing out food/ingredients that have expired;
- Not cooking food the required temperature for safe serving; and
- Improper employee sanitation standards in the kitchen or other services areas.
How to Prove Liability in a Foodborne Illness Case in Spokane
The primary challenge in a foodborne poisoning personal injury case is connecting the illness to a commercial restaurant. It is not uncommon for someone to get food poisoning without being totally certain as to the cause. To put yourself in the best position to get justice, you need to carefully document the illness. Relevant evidence that can be used to prove fault in a foodborne illness case in Washington includes:
- Notes were taken shortly after the meal;
- Receipts and other evidence after a specific meal was ordered/eaten;
- Medical documentation proving the existence of foodborne illnesses; and
- Reports to the Washington State Department of Health, including those filed by other customers.
If you suffered a serious food-related illness after eating at a restaurant in Spokane, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention. Additionally, you should consult with a lawyer. Your case should be thoroughly investigated to determine exactly what happened. You may be eligible to recover financial compensation for the complete extent of your damages, including for medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Call Our Spokane, WA Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
At Albrecht Law PLLC, our Spokane personal injury lawyers fight aggressively to get our clients justice. If you have questions about food poisoning claims, we can help. Give us a call today or connect with us online for a free, no-commitment initial consultation. From our Spokane law office, we provide personal injury representation in communities throughout Eastern Washington, including in Spokane Valley, Davenport, Creston, Airway Heights, and Medical Lake.
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