Suing A Restaurant For An AllergySuing A Restaurant For An Allergy

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If you are looking to make a claim for compensation relating to an allergic reaction brought about from a restaurant or food retailer, we may be able to assist you.

The lawyers at First Personal Injury are on-hand to discuss your potential claim. Call us on 0800 808 9740 or get in touch online.

Allergic Reactions

An allergic reaction takes place in the body when the auto-immune system reacts in an adverse way to certain food ingredients. An estimated 2 million people in the UK and 6-8% of all children have some degree of food allergy.

The body’s allergic reaction can be brought about by a number of ways including digestion, inhalation, skin contact or even close proximity to the allergen in extreme cases. The body’s immune system reacts as if it’s under attack from the foreign body and therefore releases histamine. If the reaction is severe and it over-reacts to the substance this is known as anaphylaxis shock. Reactions in people vary, they can be mild in general but sometimes are severe and in some cases can be fatal.

According to the food standards agency around 5,000 people each year are hospitalised due to an allergic reaction relating to food. With the recent news case of a girl dying from a severe reaction to sesame seeds, it’s vitally important that businesses are following the rules to safeguard consumers.

What causes an allergic reaction

Wheat, dairy products, peanuts and seafood tend to be among the food most commonly attributable to causing allergic reactions. There are many different levels of reaction to allergens. However, the most common symptoms are a red itchy rash, stomach pain, facial and throat swellings.

Restaurants and takeaways giving misleading or no information about the allergenic ingredients contained in their foods is the primary cause of food allergy related hospitalisations.

Bringing a claim

If you have suffered an allergic reaction to food you have purchased and consumed, you may be eligible to bring a food allergy compensation claim against the company or restaurant.

In December 2014, The Food Information for Consumers Regulations came into force in the UK. These Regulations aim to make it easier for allergy sufferers to find out about the presence of any allergenic ingredients in food when eating out. It can often be difficult to find out the ingredients of dishes and so care should always be taken when eating out.

Restaurants and takeaways, as well as shops that sell pre-packaged foods, must now warn customers about the key 14 food allergens that are present in the food they serve to customers. This ensures that anybody who has an allergy to a specific ingredient will be able to identify this before potentially putting themselves in harm’s way. The main allergens are:

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten
  • Crustaceans (prawns, lobster, crabs, crayfish)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Lupin
  • Mustard seed
  • Molluscs (clams, mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid)
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts)
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sulphur dioxide (sometimes used as a preservative in dried fruit)

When the food is pre-packed, the allergens must be listed on the food label packaging. Restaurants and takeaways have some flexibility in terms of how they deliver the allergy warning. For example, details of the allergens may be written on menus or explained verbally by staff to customers.

Claiming Compensation for An Allergic Reaction

With food poisoning laws, if the establishment created a dish containing one of the 14 major allergens, and did not warn customers about it, then the establishment could be liable if the customer falls ill.

To establish liability, you may have to show that:

  • The food consumed contained a recognised allergen.
  • The establishment didn’t display appropriate allergy warnings.
  • The claimant suffered an allergic reaction as a consequence.

If the allergic reaction was not immediate, it must be proven that the food containing the allergen was consumed at the specific restaurant and was not obtained elsewhere or at home.

What if I did not tell restaurant staff about my food allergy?

Restaurants and food retailers must warn customers about the presence of the 14 major allergens regardless of whether the customer notifies them of a food allergy or not. The fact that a customer fails to mention a food allergy will not dismiss their claim.

If the customer is allergic to a different ingredient, one that the restaurant does not have to legally warn about, then the customer is responsible for notifying staff of any food allergies they may have. However, customers who do not alert staff of their allergy may still be able to bring a claim, so please get in contact so we can discuss your options.

Compensation claims for an allergic reaction

Each case is different and will depend on symptoms and long-term effects. Most people are unaware there are 2 parts to any personal injury claim. The first part is the claim for general damages. This relates to compensation for the actual injury of the allergic reaction, taking into account:

  • Pain and suffering because of the allergic reaction
  • Life-changing injuries
  • Mental trauma

The second part of a claim (special damages) takes into account:

  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Medical expenses (and future medical expenses)
  • Adaptions to the home
  • Additional transport costs

How to get in contact with First Personal Injury

At First Personal Injury Lawyers, our no win no fee solicitors have experience in all kinds of allergic reaction claims. If you feel you have a case for making an allergic reaction compensation claim, please call today to speak with our lawyers for expert advice. Our team will guide you through the legal process from start to finish and get you the result you deserve.

Contact First Personal Injury to discuss your claim today on 0800 808 9740 or, alternatively, fill out our online form.

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