Nevada food poisoning victims can file a lawsuit against the at-fault parties in pursuit of the maximum possible settlement to cover their:
- Doctor's bills in Nevada,
- Lost wages in Nevada,
- Pain and suffering in Nevada, and/or
- Wrongful death damages in Nevada (if the victim passed away)
Victims who get sick from food served in Las Vegas hotels or restaurants can sue the venue on various grounds, including:
The Nevada statute of limitations to sue for food poisoning can be as short as two (2) years after the victim's illness. So victims are encouraged to seek out experienced legal counsel as soon as possible to start working on the case.
In this article, our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys discuss how to bring a food poisoning lawsuit in Nevada to recover the largest settlement available. Scroll down or click on a topic below:
- 1. Legal claims
- 2. Potential defendants
- 3. Possible damages
- 4. Time limits to sue
- 5. Causes and injuries
Generally, you are not eligible to receive compensation for your food poisoning if you became ill because you stored food improperly. However, you should be entitled to damages for any illnesses caused by problems with the manufacturing of your food — or its preparation if it was prepared outside your home.
In some situations — such as widespread food contamination leading to a product recall — it can be relatively easy for victims to show where contaminated foodstuffs came from. In more isolated circumstances, It can sometimes be difficult for people to prove that they were made sick by a specific food or establishment.
Either way, victims of foodborne illnesses should keep meticulous records and talk to a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
There are various legal claims that food poisoning victims ("plaintiffs") may be able to bring against the wrongdoers ("defendants"). These include:
- Strict products liability;
- Negligence per se; and/or
- Wrongful death
1.1. Strict products liability
There are five elements a plaintiff needs to prove in a products liability claim in Nevada:
- The product was defective as the result of a design, manufacturing, or warning defect;
- The defect existed when the product left the possession of the defendant;
- The product was used in a manner which was reasonably foreseeable by the defendant;
- The defect was a cause of the plaintiff's injuries; and
- The injuries resulted in damages.1
People who produce foodstuffs are required to make it safe for consumption. If the food had problems that caused others to become ill, then these producers are "strictly liable" to the victims for making defective products.
There are four elements a plaintiff needs to prove in a negligence claim in Nevada:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care;
- The defendant breached this duty;
- This breach proximately caused the plaintiff's injury; and
- This injury resulted in damages.2
Defendants who grow, make, ship, or serve foodstuffs owe the public a duty of care to keep the food safe. If these defendants cut corners — which then caused the plaintiff to become ill from the contaminated food — then these defendants were negligent to the plaintiff.
1.3. Negligence per se
There are five elements a plaintiff needs to prove in a negligence per se claim in Nevada:
- The defendant had the duty to follow a certain law;
- The plaintiff is one of the people that law was designed to protect;
- The defendant violated this law;
- The defendant's violation proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries; and
- The injuries resulted in damage.3
Food storage and preparation is one of the most heavily regulated activities in the U.S. by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and in Las Vegas by the Southern Nevada Health District. If defendants violated these safety laws — which then caused the plaintiff to become ill from the contaminated food — then these defendants were negligent per se to the plaintiff.
1.4. Wrongful death
There are four elements the plaintiff would need to prove in a wrongful death claim in Nevada:
- The victim died;
- This death was caused by the defendant's wrongful act or negligence;
- The plaintiff is an heir or personal representative of the victim; and
- The plaintiff suffered damages for monetary injury as a result of the death
The victim's family and/or estate can bring wrongful death claims in Nevada.4
Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may be possible to sue the following parties following a food poisoning incident:
- The company that produced the contaminated foodstuffs;
- The company that distributed the contaminated foodstuffs;
- The retailer that stocked the contaminated foodstuffs; and/or
- The restaurant and/or hotel that served the contaminated foodstuffs
It may also be possible to sue the particular factory workers, cooks, and waiters whose actions caused the foodstuffs to become contaminated. But the companies they work for have much deeper pockets and can offer a much larger settlement.
When people are poisoned by their food due to negligence, Nevada state law allows them to collect the full amount of their damages. This holds true even if an immune condition or age caused them to became sicker than the average person.
Personal injury attorneys would fight for a settlement that covers all of the following compensatory damages in Nevada:
- Medical bills (including medications to treat the food poisoning),
- Lost wages (while the plaintiff was too ill to work),
- Pain and suffering, and/or
- Any other incidental costs
Should the case go to trial, the personal injury attorney would also fight for punitive damages in Nevada:
Punitive damages would be meant to punish the defendants for causing the food to become spoiled and to deter other companies from mishandling their foodstuffs. Punitive damages can also be much bigger than compensatory damages.5
The statute of limitations to bring a Nevada civil lawsuit for contaminated food is usually two (2) years after the victim gets sick. But this time period may be longer depending on the circumstances of the case and the particular claims involved.6
Either way, it is important for victims to consult with a Nevada personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The quicker an attorney gets on the case, the better chance the attorney has of compiling important evidence, including:
- Video surveillance footage
- Eyewitness testimony
- Inventory, restaurant, and shipping records
- Medical records
The more time goes by, the more memories fade and the more evidence disappears.
Every year, one in six Americans comes down with a case of food poisoning. Usually the effects of food poisoning are minor and do not require hospitalization.
However in some cases — often in the elderly or immuno-compromised — ingested contaminated foodstuffs can become a serious medical emergency. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.7
5.1. Food poisoning causes
Food contamination can happen at several different points — from the farm to the table.
Some food contamination occurs at the harvest of the food. If a person picking your produce did not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom, you could get sick — especially if the produce was rinsed poorly or not at all.
Other cases of foodborne illness occur because of contamination during production or processing. This could include bad butchering of meat or a production line introducing a harmful micro-organism to flour.
Food contamination can also happen during preparation or serving. This usually results from cross-contamination from unwashed hands.
The remaining way that food can become contaminated is through poor storage: Unrefrigerated food invites harmful microbes to multiply.
5.2. Types of food poisoning
Becoming sick from contaminated food can result from a variety of microorganisms. Common types of food poisoning leading to hospitalization in the United States include:
Salmonella poisoning, which can last up to a week. Salmonella is the most fatal type of food poisoning in the United States. Generally, a salmonella infection will begin 12 to 72 hours after exposure to contaminated food. Learn more about Nevada salmonella poisoning lawsuits.
E. Coli poisoning usually comes from eating undercooked meat. While a healthy person can often fight off e. coli poisoning at home, young people and the elderly may die from it.
Norovirus typically contaminates food when food service workers come to work sick. It can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration.
Some of the people who can be most vulnerable to food poisoning are young children, the elderly, and the immuno-compromised.
Call a Nevada personal injury attorney...
If you were sickened with food poisoning in Nevada, you may have legal recourse. Our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys can help find the source of the illness and then take the at-fault parties to task.
We are often able to achieve a large settlement to cover all your expenses and more without going to trial. And you pay us nothing unless we win your case, so it is risk-free to you.
For a FREE consultation with Las Vegas Defense Group, call 702-333-3673. We are available to help 24/7.
Sickened in California? See our article on suing for poisoning from food in California.
Sickened in Colorado? See our article on filing a food poisoning lawsuit in Colorado.
- Valentine v. Pioneer Chlor Alkali, 109 Nev. 1107, 864 P.2d 295, 297 (1993).
- See, e.g. Scialabba v. Brandise Const. Co.,112 Nev. 965, 921 P.2d 928 (1996).
- Atkinson v. MGM Grand Hotel, Inc., 98 P.3d 678, 680 (Nev. 2004).
- NRS 41.085.
- NRS 42.005.
- NRS 11.190.
- Paul S. Mead, Laurence Slutsker, Vance Dietz, Linda F. McCaig, Joseph S. Bresee, Craig Shapiro, Patricia M. Griffin, and Robert V. Tauxe, Food-Related Illness and Death in the United States, Volume 5, Number 5—October 1999.