Is it possible to make a liability claim for food poisoning?

Published 30 Jul 2018

Practice Area: Slip & Fall Public Liability Claims

Food poisoning is an unpleasant and surprisingly common experience. An estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning occur annually in Australia, according to the Food Safety Information Council. That's the equivalent of one-sixth of the population getting struck down every 12 months.

Most people recover after a few days without any lasting damage. Unfortunately, some people become seriously ill, with the council claiming there are nearly 32,000 hospitalisations and 86 deaths due to food poisoning each year. But is compensation available in these circumstances?

Making a public liability claim in Queensland

You may be entitled to damages for food poisoning under Queensland's public liability laws. Many people are aware they can make claims for slips, trips, falls and other accidents, but food poisoning also counts as a personal injury.

However, receiving compensation for food poisoning is often challenging. All liability claims must meet certain criteria for the plaintiff to succeed, whereby the person or organisation responsible must have:

  • Owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
  • Negligently breached this obligation.
  • Caused the injuries for which the plaintiff is claiming.

Restaurants, takeaways, supermarkets and other food outlets usually owe their customers a duty of care, but proving negligence is wrought with difficulties. Food is often prepared or packaged out of sight, and negligence may have occurred at various stages in the produce supply chain.

Causation is also tricky, as food poisoning sufferers may not experience any symptoms for several hours after they've eaten. This creates problems proving where the claimant came into contact with the contaminated meal.

Have you suffered food poisoning in Queensland?

Food poisoning claims are more likely to succeed when multiple people come forward over the same incident. If several diners ate at the same restaurant on a particular evening, for example, establishing negligence and causation is easier.

According to the QLD government, people should seek medical assistance if:

  • Symptoms last over three days.
  • They can't keep down fluids for more than one day.
  • Blood or mucus is in their vomit or diarrhoea.
  • An at-risk group, such as the elderly or babies, is affected.

Even in these circumstances, compensation may not be available unless food poisoning causes significant or long-lasting injuries. You should therefore discuss your case with an experienced public liability claims lawyer.

Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers can assess your food poisoning claim, inform you of how to proceed and guide you through every step of the legal process.