Food poisoning claims and the law
We are frequently asked to deal with food poisoning claims, especially those arising from holidays and trips abroad. Food hygiene standards overseas are often not as high as those we enjoy here in the South West. In the UK we are protected by the Food Safety Act 1990 which regulates how food should be handled, stored and sold. The Act requires food business operators to take all reasonable precautions to avoid contamination. If they fail to do so then they become liable to pay compensation to anyone falling ill as a direct result.
The situation with food poisoning abroad can be a little more complex and requires specialist legal advice from a solicitor who is experienced in dealing with holiday illness compensation claims. Generally speaking, it is preferable to bring the compensation claim in the UK. With cruises and package holidays, the victim of food poisoning is usually entitled to bring their claim against the tour operator in the country in which it is based.
The most common problem associated with food poisoning claims is establishing what the source of the poisoning was. Solicitors pursuing food poisoning claims need to be able to prove that the illness complained of was caused by the hotel, shop, restaurant or holiday company being sued. Lawyers call this issue “causation”.
It is therefore important to avoid delay and take immediate steps that will assist in proving a causative link. We would therefore recommend:-
• Arranging for an early medical examination, blood tests, etc;
• Retaining receipts or any documentation from the hotel, shop, restaurant or holiday company;
• Make a note of everything else you ate at around the time of the poisoning;
• Report the incident to your local Environmental Health Advisor or, if you are on a package holiday, the local representative of the tour operator.
We have represented numerous claimants in food poisoning and holiday illness related claims arising here in Devon, elsewhere in the UK and overseas. Here are a couple of case studies.
1. We secured a significant compensation payment for Mr Shore of Leicestershire who was taken ill while staying at the 5-star Dreams resort in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt.
Mr Shore contracted Salmonella paratyphoid, a life threatening illness, and had to be airlifted back to England, suffering two heart attacks in transit. The tour operator, Thomsons, denied liability, refusing to negotiate. We put up a tenacious fight, forcing Thomsons to finally back down almost at the door of the court.
2. Partner Lee Dawkins recovered a six figure sum for a client from Kent who contracted Salmonella after eating at his local Chinese restaurant. The client’s illness was severe and he was hospitalised on two occasions. It was many months before he was able to return to work and although he did eventually make a full recovery it was a life changing experience for him.
What to do now
If you have suffered food poisoning either in the UK or while abroad then take advantage of our free legal helpline.
Simply call 0800 155 6389 and speak to one of our specialist food poisoning claims solicitors who will provide an immediate assessment of your case. The service is free and without obligation. If we think we can obtain you compensation then we give you details of our No Win – No Fee funding scheme.