When you go out to eat at a restaurant, you fully expect to have a pleasant experience. But, if you have an allergic reaction to your food, what was supposed to be a fun event could quickly become a problem. Food allergies range from mild to severe, and in some cases can even result in hospitalization or death.
If you or a loved one has an allergic reaction at a restaurant after dining in or getting takeout, you may be entitled to recompense. Here’s what you should know from our Massachusetts and New Hampshire consumer protection lawyers.
Most Common Food Allergies
When someone’s system responds abnormally after consuming specific foods, this is a food allergy or intolerance. Children can be born with food sensitivities, or they can develop over a period time.
Food allergies impact a substantial part of the American population, although they do not impact everyone. Those that do suffer from food intolerance often have different symptoms than other people who also have an allergy to to the same foods.
Some of the most common food allergies include:
- Peanuts and tree nuts
- Shellfish, such as lobster and crab
- Milk and other dairy items
- Wheat gluten
- Soy products
- Sulfur dioxide
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Food Allergy Symptoms & Responses
Food allergy responses are generally deemed more severe than food sensitivities or intolerances, like lactose intolerance. Typically, a food sensitivity can cause gastric upset but is unlikely to be life threatening. Food allergies, however, can be.
Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, and face
- Difficulty swallowing
- Trouble breathing or turning blue
- The sensation of the esophagus or throat closing
- Skin rashes
- Hot or cold sweats
Depending on the type of allergy, the allergen, its severity, and how much was consumed, these symptoms may occur individually or simultaneously. They may also range from mild to severe.
In rare cases, some people need to administer medication via injection on the spot to stop a deadly allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock. If a person knows they have this allergy, they may have the medicine on hand. However, if they’ve never experienced a reaction before, minutes count.
When Is a Restaurant Responsible for a Food Allergy?
Any instance in which a restaurant fails to meet its duty of care for its patrons might result in legal consequences. Because restaurants are for-profit establishments, they have an obligation to ensure their premises are safe for consumers.
There are numerous ways for a restaurant to violate its duty of care to a customer in regard to food allergies. In many of these situations, the plaintiff may be able to collect compensation if the restaurant could or should have avoided the incident by exercising more caution.
Legal Standards for Restaurants for Allergens
A food allergy complaint may be brought forward if a person is injured or otherwise incurs damages as a result of an allergic response to food served by a restaurant. This typically occurs when food is cooked or served improperly.
For example, when someone is served a meal cooked with an ingredient they are allergic to, and they require medical treatment as a result, the injured person or their family may be able to file a lawsuit.
Different parties may be found responsible for loss incurred in a food allergy action depending on the details of the case. This includes:
- Restaurant owners, managers, and employees
- Hospital or school cafeteria workers
- Transportation dining staff (e.g., flight attendants, cruise ship personnel, etc.)
- Food sellers, distributors, or manufacturers
- Other food service employees
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA)
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) is a United States law signed in 2004 that mandates food product manufacturers to include allergen information on their labels. All recognized major food allergies must be included on every label.
Any quantity of an allergen, including any proteins derived from it, should be stated on the label. FALCPA’s goal is to avoid the misunderstanding of food allergy information that can result in preventable allergic reactions. Restaurants should be able to provide an ingredients list for all dishes if requested.
How to Sue a Restaurant After an Allergic Reaction
To obtain a successful verdict, you must be able to prove the following:
- That you experienced a severe allergic reaction, and
- This reaction was a direct result of consuming a food, and
- The restaurant or other food service establishment neglected to properly handle or serve your food, or
- The establishment failed to adequately inform or warn you about food ingredients, and
- That these actions directly caused your allergic reaction, and
- That you incurred physical injury and/or financial damages as a result
This is a hefty burden of proof on the plaintiff, necessitating the help of an experienced consumer protection law firm.
Contact Consumer Protection Lawyers Mazow | McCullough, PC Today
Have you or your family incurred damages as a result of an allergic reaction to food served to you at a restaurant? Don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced consumer protection attorney for guidance.
Obtaining the full and fair restitution you deserve for hospital bills, lost wages, and other damages can be challenging. If unsuccessful, you stand to be financially responsible for hundreds and potentially even thousands of dollars in costs. If you lost a loved one to a fatal allergic reaction, no amount of compensation can ever bring them back or make up for their absence in your life. Your best chances come from working with a seasoned lawyer.
Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today for a consultation by dialing (978) 744-8000 or toll free at (855) 693-9084. Our legal team is available now to assist you after suffering an unexpected allergic reaction caused by a restaurant.