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Can I Claim Workers Comp For Food Poisoning At Work?

If the food that caused you to get sick was provided by your employer in any way, then you should have a strong case for workers comp benefits.

The CDC estimates that around 48 million people get food poisoning each year, and around 128,000 need to be hospitalized because of it. Though you may think this issue only presents with mild symptoms like an upset stomach and some discomfort, this is not always the case. Around 3,000 people die every year because of food-borne illness.

For most people, food poisoning will only make life a bit uncomfortable for a few days. But others may need serious medical treatment, which can be very expensive. So, if you get food poisoning at work, is it something you can receive compensation for?

Understanding the Law and the Circumstances

In Missouri, workers are eligible for workers’ compensation as long as:

  • Their injuries happened at work while performing a work activity
  • They were on the clock and on the premises of their work at the time of the accident
  • Their illness is a direct cause of their work environment.

In the case of food poisoning, it’s important to take a look at how you got it to know if you qualify for workers’ compensation. For instance, if you were on a lunch break, left work to eat at a restaurant, and got food poisoning as a result, then no. This is not eligible for workers’ comp, though you may be able to take legal actions against the restaurant you ate at.

The same can be said if you’ve had your meal still at work, but the food was ordered from a restaurant or brought from home. Your employer is not responsible for these instances.

The situation may change if it was your employer who provided the food. For instance, if you have an employees-only cafeteria where you go on your lunch break, and that food caused the illness, then logic dictates that your employer is responsible for it. Even if you were on your lunch break, your employer is liable for legal actions if the food they provide has gotten you sick, in which case an argument can be made that workers comp laws can be applied.

Additionally, food tasting may be part of the job description. Many restaurant staff members recurrently taste the foods made at their place of employment, and if they get sick because of it, then their medical costs are covered under workers’ comp.

What Should You Do?

If the food that caused you to get sick was provided by your employer in any way, then you should have a strong case for workers comp. If you’re still not sure if you are eligible or worry that your employer may not approve your claim, you should contact a St. Louis workers compensation attorney for help.

At the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann, we will look at your situation and tell you if you have a case. Additionally, we can help you file the claim and handle negotiations with the insurance company for you. Call us today at (314) 361-4300.

Updated: December 17, 2019