Due to the large number of individuals with food allergies, the chance of someone suffering an allergic reaction at a restaurant or school is very high. Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. For children under the age of 18, 1 in 13 children have a food allergy. That means there are roughly 2 kids with a food allergy in every classroom. *Source: Food Allergy & Education
When individuals suffer allergic reactions due to ingesting or being exposed to food allergens, do they have legal rights? The answer is yes. They may file a food allergy injury lawsuit to recover financial compensation. These types of cases typically involve individuals who are exposed to food allergens at restaurants or schools. This article will talk about these types of lawsuit and responsible parties.
When a customer with a food allergy dining at a restaurant in PA suffers a severe allergic reaction, the restaurant may be responsible for the customer’s injuries. The meal may have been carelessly prepared or served. For instance, the customer tells his server that he has a peanut allergy. Though the dish he is ordering does not list peanuts as an ingredient, the customer asks his server whether the dish has peanuts in it. The server says he doesn’t believe it does, but will ask the kitchen to make sure. If there are peanuts in it, the server says he will let the customer know. The server however, forgets to ask the kitchen. Though the dish the customer orders does not have peanuts listed in the ingredients, it is cooked in peanut oil. After the customer starts eating, he starts to have an allergic reaction. His throat starts to itch and within minutes, he has difficulty breathing. The customer needs to be transported to a hospital.
In such a case, the server was negligent because he did not confirm with the kitchen. The customer would have legal rights against the restaurant for the server’s negligence. Had the server asked the kitchen, he would have known that the dish was cooked in peanut oil. The customer would have ordered another meal, or the cook would have accommodated the customer and cooked the meal with another type of oil that did not have peanuts in it.
Another example of a food allergy injury lawsuit may be when a student or child suffers a severe allergic reaction at school. For instance, a student in a classroom is celebrating his birthday and brings in cupcakes for the class. The cupcakes contain traces of peanuts. Another student in the class is allergic to peanuts. After eating the cupcake, the student with a peanut allergy has an allergic reaction and goes into anaphylactic shock. The teacher has to administer an Epi-Pen to the student. In such a case, can the school be held liable for the student’s allergic reaction? The answer is probably. If the school knew about the student’s peanut allergy, the teacher needed to be cognizant of the student’s allergy when treats were being given to the students. Even though the teacher didn’t bring in the treat, the teacher should have apprised the parents that all treats needed to be peanut free.
Some schools are moving away from edible treats for special occasions in order to avoid such instances. Some schools in PA have polices that do not allow students to bring in edible treats or allow edible treats to be served during special celebrations such as Halloween or other holiday parties.
Other than restaurants and schools, there may be other responsible parties depending on the situation, such as:
Many people do not realize that food allergies can be life-threatening. Many believe that allergic reactions to food are not that serious, such as skin rashes, swelling of the mouth, hives, etc. They do not realize that individuals with severe food allergies may have difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, all of which may be life-threatening.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious reaction or food allergy due to someone’s negligence, you may have legal rights to recover financial compensation. Daniel J. O’Brien, Esq. and his team at White and Williams have the experience and resources to help fight for your rights. Call today to schedule a FREE consultation. 877.944.8396