When you head out to a restaurant, you expect to have a nice meal. Unfortunately, what’s meant to be a memorable experience can turn into a problem if you have an adverse reaction to a food allergy.
A food allergy from a restaurant can range from minor to severe. If you’re injured because of a bad reaction at a restaurant, you may deserve financial compensation. Here’s what you need to know from our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.
Can a Restaurant Be Liable for Food Allergies?
Yes, a restaurant can be liable for food allergies. Whether a restaurant has legal liability or harm caused by a food allergy depends on whether the restaurant was negligent. If the customer expresses concerns that go unaddressed or if the restaurant fails to take precautions for common allergies, they may be liable to a customer when harm results from a food allergy.
Are Restaurants Responsible for Food Allergies?
Restaurants are responsible for food allergies in some circumstances. The restaurant has a very high duty of care for their customers. They should be aware of common food allergies and help customers understand the ingredients in their products.
However, negligence applies to consumers, too. Restaurant patrons also have a role to play in avoiding known allergies. However, when the restaurant acts negligently towards its patrons and harm results from an allergy, the restaurant may be legally liable to the victim for their damages.
Can You Sue a Restaurant for Food Allergy?
Yes, you can sue a restaurant for food allergy. There are several ways that a restaurant may breach their duty of care towards a restaurant patron when it comes to allergies. In all cases, if the restaurant could have prevented the harm by being more careful, the victim may recover for their damages. The victim has to prove that they’re hurt because of allergies at the restaurant.
Types of Restaurant Liability for Allergens
Here are just some of the ways that a restaurant may be liable for food allergens:
- Cross-contamination and accidental allergic reactions
- Failing to protect consumers and inform them about common allergies like peanuts
- Incorrectly informing customers about ingredients in their products
- Giving incorrect information when customers ask questions about allergens
- Responding inappropriately when a person has an adverse reaction
Any way that a restaurant doesn’t take sufficient care for the well being of their customers can be grounds for legal liability. Because the restaurant is a for-profit business, the obligation of the restaurant to take sufficient care for their customers is very high.
Legal Standard for Restaurant Allergen Liability
There are multiple legal theories for food allergen victims:
- Negligence – Restaurant owners have the legal obligation to conduct business with ordinary care. They must take steps to ensure that the meals that they serve their customers are safe. Negligence is a lack of reasonable care. The restaurant has to use an amount of care that’s reasonable for a restaurant. They don’t have to prevent any kind of accident or harm, but they have to take enough steps to keep customers safe. The standard is quite high because a restaurant is a for-profit business.
- Failure to warn – A restaurant is selling a product — its meals. Along with producing a product, they have a legal obligation to give patrons the information that they need to use the product safely. Failure to warn is a kind of products liability. When a restaurant doesn’t provide the necessary information so that consumers can make informed choices, failure to warn may be the legal theory for financial responsibility.
- Intentional tampering – Sometimes, restaurant staff will purposefully tamper with food. A bad reaction to a food allergen can give rise to an intentional tort claim. When people act purposefully to hurt others through food, intentional tampering can be the grounds for a lawsuit.
Are Restaurants Required to Accommodate Allergies?
The laws for whether restaurants are required to accommodate allergies depend on the state law of the restaurant location. Some states require restaurants to display allergen information. A state may offer information for restaurants on how to develop an allergen-free menu. Other states may require training for employees. What the requirements are depend on the state where the restaurant does business.
How to Win Your Restaurant Lawsuit for Food Allergies
To win your restaurant allergy lawsuit case, you must prove the following:
- You had a bad allergic reaction
- The allergic reaction occurred because of a food allergy at the restaurant
- The restaurant was negligent, failed to adequately warn you about allergens, or intentionally tampered with your food
- The restaurant’s actions were the cause of your adverse reaction
- Losses and damages result from the allergic reaction
It’s up to the victim to prove each element of their claim. You may have an attorney represent you.
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA)
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act is a U.S. law that requires food labels to contain allergen information. Each food label must disclose all known allergens. The most common are milk, eggs, fish, nuts, wheat, and soybeans.
Any amount of the substance or even proteins from the substance means that it must be disclosed on the label. Lawmakers passed FALCPA in 2006. The purpose of the law is to prevent misunderstandings, conclusion, and ultimately harm from inaccurate or undisclosed information.
What Can You Recover If You’re the Victim of a Restaurant Food Allergen?
When you’re the victim of a restaurant food allergen, you may receive compensation for your financial losses and your suffering. For moderate or severe allergies, you likely have medical bills. You may have travel expenses to get to medical treatment. You may need prescription medications or medical supplies. Any financial loss because of the adverse allergy event can be a part of your claim for compensation. You may also deserve compensation for mental distress and physical pain.
Contact Our Injury Lawyers
Did you have an allergic reaction because of eating at a restaurant? You may deserve financial compensation. But you must work quickly to gather the evidence in your case and file the claim. Don’t wait any longer. Call us today for a free review of your claim.