Food Poisoning at a Catered Event: Who’s Liable?
Good food can turn a simple event like a budget meeting into something that everyone wants to be on time for, as a quality event venue relies on can attest. However, food poisoning is not something that a person envisions when eating those delicious ribs or baked beans. If a person does get sick at a catered event, who is liable for damages?
Why Did the Victim Get Sick?
In a personal injury case, an individual is only entitled to compensation if he or she can prove that negligence occurred. One element to proving negligence occurred is that a duty of care existed and was breached.
However, an injured victim is also responsible for taking reasonable steps to protect his or her health and safety. Therefore, the circumstances surrounding the food poisoning incident are important when determining liability. For instance, if a person ate meat that had been sitting in the sun all day, he or she may be partially liable for his or her own illness. This is because a reasonable person knows or should know that warm meat can make you ill.
It is also possible that the catering company would be liable for leaving meat out in the sun or otherwise allowing it to get so warm in the first place. Catering services can reduce liability by following food safety standards, such as keeping meat at below 40 degrees while in storage and at over 140 degrees when served.
Did the Victim Suffer Any Damages?
Technically, negligence does not occur if a victim doesn’t suffer any physical injuries and economic damages. In the case of a person who got food poisoning, it might not be enough that he or she experienced a stomach ache for 24 hours. The victim may need to show that the illness required a trip to the hospital, made it impossible to work (resulting in lost wages), or otherwise significantly reduced their quality of life.
Was the Victim Allowed at the Event?
The law divides people on a premises into three different categories. The first two are invitees and licensees, and these are people who were either invited to the event or were contracted to work there. The final group consists of trespassers, and they are people who enter a premises without the right to do so. Generally, there is little or no duty of care to trespassers unless they are children. If a trespasser got sick eating food that he or she had no right to take, it may be difficult or impossible to hold a caterer liable.
Were Other Parties Involved Before the Event?
If the company that provided the caterer with food gave them a tainted product, the supplier may also be liable for damages. If there was a problem with a thermometer or other tools used to measure the temperature of a food, the supplier of that tool could be held liable for damages. Those who improperly put food on a truck or otherwise had custody of it before the event may be additional defendants in a food poisoning case.
There are many questions that need to be answered when determining liability in a personal injury case related to food poisoning. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help a victim determine his or her rights and how to proceed with a claim. It may be possible to win compensation for medical bills and other costs incurred because of an illness.
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