If you or a family member have become seriously ill from eating food contaminated by Salmonella bacteria, you might have good reason to contact an attorney who specializes in personal injury cases that involve a foodborne illness. Elliot Olsen is one such attorney. He has been helping people injured by Salmonella for two decades. His experience has taught him how to conduct the necessary investigation by asking the right questions.
Here are some considerations to help you decide whether an experienced attorney like Elliot can help:
How did you get sick?
The incubation period — the amount of time between eating food contaminated with Salmonella and the start of symptoms — can make it difficult to determine the exact cause of your illness. However, if you learn that a food you recently consumed is the cause of an outbreak of Salmonella, you might have a claim, and therefore a need to contact Elliot Olsen for a free consultation.
How serious was the illness?
If you or a loved one is sick for a week without seeing a doctor, it is likely not going to be worth hiring an attorney. If, however, hospitalization is required and it is determined that the cause is Salmonella, then you probably have a case, whether the illness is part of an outbreak or not.
This is the time to consult Elliot, who can provide peace of mind by guiding you and your family through the process of being diagnosed and treated, as well as pinpointing the cause and determining what specific legal action to take.
How is a diagnosis made?
To confirm a diagnosis of Salmonella poisoning, a doctor will send a stool sample to a laboratory for testing.
After a diagnosis has been made, what then?
Having Elliot represent your interests is critical. Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, he will ensure that the doctor or lab reports it to your state health department. If the source of the illness hasn’t been determined, an epidemiological investigation often is conducted to identify the source of your exposure, and perhaps help reveal that you or your loved one are part of an outbreak. Often, a technician will conduct a test called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), which helps to isolate and identify the specific genetic fingerprint of the bacteria that made you sick.
Why file a lawsuit?
When you have a diagnosis of Salmonella poisoning and the source of the contamination has been determined, Elliot will guide your family through the process, helping you decide what legal action to take. He will get the answers you and your family need, and subsequently seek the proper compensation for your family’s pain and distress, including having medical bills paid or lost income recovered.
Salmonella bacteria are responsible for as many as 1.2 million foodborne illnesses in the United States annually, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Salmonellosis affects the intestinal tract, and is one of the most common types of food poisoning year in and year out.
Salmonellosis can develop anywhere from 12 hours to three days after consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella. As with most types of foodborne illnesses, symptoms can include:
- abdominal pain and vomiting
Symptoms can last up to a week. Most people recover without treatment, but in some cases, the diarrhea can become so severe that hospitalization is required.
The CDC estimates that of those 1.2 million annual cases of infection, 23,000 victims will require hospitalization, and approximately 450 of them will die. People most at risk for complications are children under the age of 5, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
Complications from salmonellosis can occur when the Salmonella bacteria enter the bloodstream. Those complications can produce conditions such as:
- meningitis: inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
- endocarditis: infection of the heart’s inner lining, usually involving the heart valves.
- osteomyelitis: bone inflammation that usually targets the legs, arms, or spine.
- reactive arthritis: also known as Reiter’s syndrome, a form of inflammatory arthritis that develops in response to a Salmonella infection in another part of the body.
Pregnant women are at a higher risk for contracting salmonellosis because their immune systems are suppressed due to hormonal changes. A pregnant woman who becomes ill from Salmonella can suffer a miscarriage, go into labor prematurely, or experience stillbirth.
Can I sue for Salmonella poisoning?
Have you eaten food contaminated with Salmonella and gotten so sick that you needed to be hospitalized and missed work? If you, a family member or friend are responsible for producing the meal that made you sick, the answer is no. But if you became ill after eating at a restaurant that was negligent in its handling and/or preparation of your food, then the answer is: Absolutely.
To pursue a lawsuit, you will want to hire Elliot Olsen, who has almost three decades of experience in personal injury cases, many involving Salmonella poisoning. He knows the questions to ask to help you and your family get the peace of mind and compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What can I gain from filing a lawsuit?
When a diagnosis of salmonellosis has been determined and the source of your illness has been pinpointed, it’s time to hire Elliot. He will help you and your family decide what legal action to take; he will get the answers to all your questions; and he will seek the proper amount of compensation for your family’s pain and distress.
What kinds of food can be affected?
Many different types of food can carry the bacteria, including dairy, meat, fish, raw fruits and vegetables, spices, and nuts. In 2015 and 2016, the CDC reported nine outbreaks in the United States due to the following contaminated foods:
- alfalfa sprouts
- a packaged organic shake and meal product
- nut butter spread
- frozen chicken
- frozen raw tuna.
How to avoid Salmonella at home
You have no control over the quality of the food you eat at a restaurant, but you do have control over food you prepare at home. To prevent Salmonella, follow these helpful tips:
- Wash your hands before cooking and after being around animals.
- Keep food-preparation surfaces clean.
- Always wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating.
- Keep raw vegetables away from raw meat, poultry, and eggs.
- Always cook meat and poultry to the proper temperature.
- Drink only pasteurized milk and juices.
Salmonella has had a busy year around the United States. Here are some outbreaks from just the final few months of the year:
- On Dec. 12, an outbreak attributed to contaminated JBS Tolleson ground beef grew to 333 people in 28 states, with 91 victims needing to be hospitalized. When the outbreak first made headlines Oct. 4, JBS Tolleson Inc. recalled almost 7 million pounds of ground beef products. On Dec. 4, the company added another 5 million pounds of products, bringing the total to 12 million pounds.
- On Dec. 10, the CDC said it had concluded its investigation into an outbreak attributed to Empire brand kosher chicken. The final numbers: 25 people sickened in six states, with 11 of them hospitalized and one death.
- On Dec. 7, the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department said it had documented 11 cases of salmonellosis connected to a Cracker Barrel that closed its doors permanently on Nov. 30.
- On Nov. 8, the CDC updated its statistics for an ongoing outbreak of Salmonella Reading illnesses from contaminated raw turkey. The numbers: 164 people sickened in 35 states, 63 victims hospitalized, one death (California).
- On Nov. 7, the CDC and FDA announced they are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Agbeni illnesses linked to Duncan Hines cake mixes. The CDC reported that five people have been sickened in three states: Maryland, Ohio, and Wisconsin. No one has been hospitalized.
- On Oct. 13, raw whole milk from Pot O Gold Dairy Specialties was linked to an outbreak in which nine Pennsylvanians were sickened.
- On Oct. 2, the CDC updated its statistics on an outbreak from contaminated Gravel Ridge Farms eggs: 38 illnesses and 10 victims hospitalized across seven states.
- On Sept. 5, an outbreak at the Wurzbach Road location of Pasha Mediterranean Grill in San Antonio was revealed to be bigger than first thought. The latest figures from the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District showed 184 illnesses – far more than the initial 60 first reported – and seven victims hospitalized.
- On Sept. 5, an outbreak attributed to Hy-Vee’s Spring Pasta Salad was declared over by the CDC. The final tally: 101 ill and 25 hospitalized in 10 states.
- Also on Sept. 5, the Old Town La Luz Mexican Grill in Fort Collins, Colorado, was cleared to reopen. The restaurant had been closed since Aug. 21, when it was linked to an outbreak in which six people were sickened, and five of them hospitalized. As of Sept. 5, those numbers had increased to 29 ill and at least five hospitalized.
- On Sept. 4, a CDC update on an outbreak due to contaminated Kellogg’s Honey Smacks showed the following numbers: 130 ill and 34 hospitalized in 36 states. The FDA announced in mid-June that Kellogg’s had voluntarily recalled 15.3-ounce and 23-ounce boxes of Honey Smacks, but the CDC has recommended that consumers not purchase nor retailers sell any Honey Smacks.