If a food poisoning has set you back, we'll help you move forward
Food poisoning can lead to severe and sometimes even life-threatening conditions. If you have been affected by food poisoning, we can help. If your injuries were caused by someone else's actions or negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Compensation may be awarded for medical care, lost earnings, and any pain experienced from eating contaminated or improperly handled food, whether purchased from a restaurant or shop.
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
In this article
Can I claim compensation for food poisoning?
If you have suffered food poisoning on holiday, after eating out at a bar or restaurant, or buying food or drink from a shop, you may be able to claim compensation for your illness.
To start a no win, no fee food poisoning claim, your illness must usually have happened in the last 3 years.
How do I prove I had food poisoning?
Research published by the Food Standards Agency suggests that more than 500,000 British people seek treatment for food poisoning each year. Since the majority of people do not visit their GP for these illnesses, it is likely that patient numbers represent only a fraction of total food poisoning cases.
Most cases of food poisoning clear up within a few days and, because people consume food from a variety of providers, cases can be difficult to prove.
Acting promptly to contact a specialist solicitor to discuss your options can make it easier to gather suitable evidence, and can improve your chances of making a successful personal injury claim.
Can I claim for food poisoning if I didn't see a doctor?
It depends. You may still be eligible to claim compensation if your solicitor can prove:
- You suffered food poisoning, and
- Another person or organisation caused your food poisoning.
If you did not visit a doctor or hospital to treat your symptoms, you may still be able to prove you were affected. You may be able to refer to any record of complaints you made at the time, emails, SMS or other communications or evidence of time you had to take off work during your recovery.
You may also have a stronger claim if your food poisoning was part of an outbreak that affected several other people.
What food poisoning symptoms can I claim for?
Food poisoning is caused by harmful bacteria, viruses or parasites on food entering the stomach and intestine. These pathogens can poison the by damaging the lining of the intestines or by producing harmful toxins.
Symptoms range from minor to very serious and include:
- Stomach cramps
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Blood in the stools
Symptoms can appear half an hour after eating contaminated food or can present over several days as the bacteria multiplies to dangerously high levels.
Some people will fall ill for just a few hours, whereas others may be ill for weeks. In very severe and recurring cases, food poisoning can cause nervous system damage and other permanent health issues.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can also develop as a result of a severe bout of food poisoning, leading to life-altering, long term consequences.
Which bacteria cause food poisoning?
The overwhelming majority of reported food poisoning cases are attributable to the following organisms.
Campylobacter is the most common food-borne bacteria, accounting for 280,000 cases of food poisoning each year. Four out of five cases are caused by contaminated poultry. The bacteria may also be present on meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water.
Salmonella is responsible for the most hospital admissions - around 2,500 each year. The bug is most commonly found in meat, poultry, eggs, unpasteurised milk and seafood. Incidences of salmonella poisoning have declined consistently in the UK. However, it remains a primary cause of holiday food poisoning claims affecting tourists travelling to locations where food hygiene standards are lower than in the UK.
E. coli poisoning is caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Hand washing before preparing food is essential to prevent contamination.
The cryptosporidium microorganism lives in water. Large outbreaks of cryptosporidium poisoning typically occur when drinking water becomes contaminated due to inadequate filtration to remove the parasite.
Norovirus and rotavirus are highly contagious viruses passed by poor hand hygiene or eating contaminated food. They are responsible for an estimated 74,000 cases of food poisoning each year, notably occurring in closed environments, leading to illness aboard a cruise ship for example, or in a hospital or nursing homes.
Contact with contaminated surfaces can lead to outbreaks of epidemic proportions in such environments.
Do I need to know what virus or bacteria caused my food poisoning?
No, although identification may help your claim.
If you sought medical attention when you had symptoms, the doctor may have taken samples to identify the specific virus or bacteria that caused your food poisoning.
In most cases, identifying the cause won't affect the compensation you receive, although it might strengthen your case. For example, knowing the specific cause may help narrow down where and how you were exposed.
Am I entitled to make a food poisoning claim?
If you've been injured or diagnosed with an illness in the last three years and it wasn't your fault, you will be able to claim compensation.
Use our injury claim calculator to find out if you can claim. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.
What if I was partially at fault?
Personal injury claims where both the defendant and claimant share some responsibility are relatively common.
In our recent 2023 Personal Injury Claimant Survey, 13.99% of respondents thought they could be partially to blame for their accident.
Claims are possible even when your actions partially caused the accident. In instances of 'contributory negligence', claims are usually settled with a split liability agreement.
How long do I have to start a food poisoning claim?
An injury claim will usually need to be made within 3 years of the date or your accident or injury.
If you were injured due to someone else's negligence but didn't realise it at the time, the clock starts ticking from the 'date of knowledge' - the day you become aware of your injury.
For injured children, a claim can be started by a parent or guardian at any time before they turn 18. Thereafter, the injured individual has until their 21st birthday to make a claim on their own.
How much compensation can I claim for a food poisoning?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.
Updated December 2023
Compensation Calculator v3.04
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
If it can be proved that your injury left you unable to work, special damages can be awarded for any lost earnings, loss of commission or bonuses, and loss of pension contributions. It may also be possible to claim for loss of future earnings, if the medical prognosis establishes that you won't be able to work for any period in the future.
These damages will also cover the cost of any medical procedures you might need to treat or recover from your food poisoning such as rehydration, anti-diarrheal medication, antibiotics if needed and monitoring.
Average food poisoning general damages compensation
The following food poisoning payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Sixteenth Edition by the Judicial College.These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.
Please note: these average figures represent general damages only, and do not include any element of special damages (e.g. lost wages).
|Digestive system||Moderate||Serious non-penetrating injury with ongoing symptoms||£15,260 to £25,240|
|Digestive system||Moderate||Moderate non-traumatic injury||£3,590 to £8,670|
|Digestive system||Severe||Severe toxicosis||£34,940 to £47,730|
|Digestive system||Serious||Penetrating wounds, lacerations or serious pressure||£6,010 to £11,450|
|Digestive system||Serious||Serious non-traumatic injury||£8,670 to £17,450|
|Digestive system||Minor||Minor non-traumatic injury||£830 to £3,590|
|Food poisoning||Moderate||Significant discomfort||£3,590 to £8,670|
|Food poisoning||Serious||Serious but short-lived||£8,670 to £17,450|
How did your injury happen?
Claiming compensation for food poisoning will depend on where and how your illness occurred. Click the icons below for more detail:
How we can help you with your injury claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
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About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.