It is never fun to imagine our loved ones leaving us forever and there is no legal victory that can make up for the pain of a death, especially a wrongful one. That said, if a family loses a member due to food poisoning, a wrongful death claim is available to some members of the clan.
Food poisoning is very common, as are injury lawsuits associated with this particular harm. Fortunately, however, fatal food poisoning is much more rare. Let's look at wrongful death lawsuits in this context, like the recently-settled case against a California restaurant that was blamed for serving contaminated scallops that allegedly led to a death in 2014.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is filed by the close relatives of a person harmed by the negligence of another and now deceased. Surviving family members -- usually just spouses and children -- can sue for damages that would have been due the person named in the wrongful death suit, including lost wages. They can also sue for damages caused by the untimely death, like lost companionship, funeral expenses and more.
The specific statutes vary from state to state. But generally speaking wrongful death statutes will all outline the important details a claimant needs to know -- who may file, caps to damages, time limits, and the like.
Food Poisoning Basics
Most food poisoning results in some discomfort and not in death. In the majority of food poisoning cases, on the rare occasion that death is the result, the victim was particularly vulnerable. Very young children and the elderly or ill are most susceptible to extreme reactions due to food poisoning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 50 million people suffer from food poisoning in the US each year. Of the millions, only 3,000 people annually are fatal victims reportedly.
The most dangerous foods are raw or under-cooked meat and fish, infected by salmonella. Salmonella poisoning is more likely to be fatal than other types of food poisoning. But that doesn't mean that vegetarians are off the hook. Surprisingly leafy greens, the stuff your parents forced you to clear off your plate long ago, are the most common cause of food-borne illness. Last year, spinach had many victims.
Consult With Counsel
If you lost a family member to fatal food poisoning, or another illness caused by someone's negligence, talk to a lawyer. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to provide guidance.