Sick from spoiled apple juice...
I purchased apple juice from a local supermarket and I became very sick. It turns out the apple juice was spoiled. I returned the remainder of the juice, and a report was written by the supermarket staff.
I went to my primary care physician and was diagnosed with food poisoning. I was sick for five days and unable to work. The supermarket offered me fifty dollars for my troubles. The case is too small for a lawyer, but my missed work and pain and suffering is worth more than fifty dollars.
What should I do? Can I get them to pay what my case is really worth? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Sick from spoiled apple juice...":
Guy (Fredericksburg, VA):
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently received reports of serious outbreaks of food-borne illness, which have been traced to drinking fruit and vegetable juice and cider that has not been treated to kill harmful bacteria.
In most cases, store management has little authority when it comes to settling personal injury claims. Speak with management and tell them you want the owner's name and contact information. While management is not under a legal obligation to offer that information, they may agree to do so.
In the event management will not offer the owner's and/or insurance company's information, they may instead take your contact info and have the store owner contact you directly.
Be sure when speaking with the owner you have your medical bills, the doctor's narrative confirming you suffered from poisoning, and a written verification from your employer confirming your lost wages. Also have an additional amount you believe fairly represents your pain and suffering. Review those with the owner.
He or she may agree to compensate you in an amount which represents your verifiable losses. However, it is unknown whether the store owner will offer additional compensation for pain and suffering. Follow up the conversation by reducing to writing your discussion. Send the letter Certified-Return Receipt Requested.
If the store owner refuses to compensate you in an amount you believe appropriate, you may consider filing a small claims lawsuit. In the State of Virginia, small claims courts have jurisdiction to hear cases up to and including $5,000.
Unfortunately, even with a lawsuit it will be difficult to convince a small claims judge to order the store owner to compensate you for your pain and suffering. At a minimum you can hope to have the court order the store owner to reimburse you for your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and your lost wages.
Read more about filing a small claims lawsuit in Virginia.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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