Nut allergies are most commonly associated with anaphylaxis, which is a serious allergic reaction which can lead to a fatality if there is no rapid response given. In order to treat this reaction, an injection is required to subside the effects which the allergens have had. This can happen within either seconds or minutes of being exposed to what you are allergic to. Anaphylaxis causes your immune system to release chemicals which can cause you to go into shock and your blood pressure to drop suddenly. It can also cause your airways to narrow which could lead to a difficulty in breathing. The main cause of an allergic reaction to nuts comes following exposure or consumption of nuts which you are unaware of.
Who is Liable?
When making any kind of claim it is important to determine who is liable. In some cases, this can be difficult to do depending on the circumstances in which you sustained your injury or illness. Many of these claims are made against a restaurant or shop who have failed to notify people of the possible presence of nuts in their food – this may lead to a public liability claim against the business.
By law, anybody who supplies food to consumers must make it clear to people if there is a possible presence of nuts in the food. This should be written and displayed on both menus and packaging or the information should be given orally by waiters. This can greatly reduce the risk of an allergic reaction as people will be aware if they can consume a particular food. Failing to do so could mean that the supplier of the food is found liable for the cause of the allergic reaction. They also have a duty of care to follow health and safety practices in kitchens and food preparation areas to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.
People who are aware that they are allergic to nuts are expected to take reasonable steps in order to ensure their own health and safety. There is an expectation that they will carry their medication with them at all times. They also have the option of carrying a nut allergy card which will make people aware of their allergies if they go into shock and are unable to inform others themselves. If they have an allergic reaction following the consumption of certain allergens and have failed to carry their medication with them, they may be found to be partly responsible for this. This is known as contributory negligence. This will depend on the circumstances in which they came in contact with nuts and if they were made aware that there may be traces of nuts prior to consuming the food.
Are Restaurants Liable for Food Allergies?
As a general rule, a restaurant must prepare food in a way that does not cause harm to their guests. They also must warn people of the presence of major allergens in their food on their menu. For example, if a dish contains peanuts, it should be clearly shown on the menu. If it isn’t and you suffer an allergic reaction, you may be entitled to make a claim.
Can You Sue for Allergic Reaction?
While nobody would be held liable for your allergies, there are certain scenarios where a person or company may be held liable for an allergic reaction.
Failure to Warn
This particularly pertains to food production companies. Food companies are obliged to declare the presence of major food allergens, such as nuts. If a food product contains nuts and it is not clearly labelled on the packaging, you may be entitled to pursue a claim.
This is also important for restaurants to clearly label on their menus. If you order food that contains an ingredient, such as peanuts, and it is not clearly stated on the menu, you may be entitled to make a claim following an allergic reaction.
If you have suffered an allergic reaction because of the failure of a company or restaurant to warn you of the presence of an ingredient, you may be entitled to pursue a claim.
Proving a Nut Allergy Claim
If you have decided that you wish to make a claim following an allergic reaction which was caused by a breach in duty of care by another party, it is important to gather the correct information which will help to speed up the process. This is very important if the food supplier has failed to make you aware of the presences of nuts in the food.
This evidence includes:
- Packaging from the food which caused the reaction.
- A copy of the menu from where you ate.
- Samples of the food which you consumed, if possible.
- Medical report to prove that the reaction was caused by the consumption of nuts.
- A list of other foods consumed around the time of the reaction.
This can help to both speed up the claims process and determine who is liable for the cause of your allergic reaction.
Nut Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of a nut allergy include:
- Shortness of Breath
- Difficulty Breathing
- Anaphylactic Shock
- Feeling of Dizziness
- Swelling of the Face
- Itching or Tingling Around the Mouth and Throat
- Drop in Blood Pressure
- Abdominal Pain
Failing to Notify People
It is very important that any supplier of food inform people if there is any chance of any nuts or traces of nuts being present in the food. This can greatly reduce the chance of an allergic reaction being caused as a result of this. This information should be displayed on either food packaging or menus. Waiters should also make people aware of this prior to food being consumed.
Lack of Medication
If you believe that you may have a food allergy it is important that you have a food allergy testing so that you can be given the correct medication. This can reduce the risk of a fatality following the consumption of an allergen. It is also important that this medication is carried with you at all times as this will be needed if you have an anaphylactic shock. There is an expectation that people who are aware of their allergies should ensure that they take steps to ensure their health and safety.
What to do after an accident in a public place*?
Following an accident in a public place, there are a number of steps you should follow:
Seek medical attention
Your health is your wealth and should be your first priority. Immediately after a public place accident, take a second to assess yourself to determine if you have any injuries and seek the relevant medical attention. If you have sustained a serious injury ensure that you contact an ambulance to attend the scene.
For minor injuries, you must remember that minor injuries where you ‘feel fine’ could progress to a more serious injury in the future. In this case it is always better to be safe than sorry and advisable that you go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) or local GP to be checked out.
Report the accident
If you have an accident in a public place it is important to report it to the persons who are in charge of the upkeep of property.
Examples of such are:
Identify any witnesses
If possible, try to collect the contact details of anybody that witnessed the accident. This may be of good use if you do decide to pursue a public place accident claim. It is also useful to find out if there is any CCTV in the area where the accident happened.
Document the incident
It is important that you collect all the relevant information in connection with your accident:
- How the accident happened
- Details of any witnesses
- If there are any CCTV recordings of the accident
- Take pictures of where the accident happened and what caused you to slip, trip or fall
Speak to a public place accident solicitor
If you are considering moving forward with a public place accident claim for any personal injuries sustained it is advisable that you speak with a public place accident claims solicitor as soon as possible. If you are proceeding with a claim, the first step will be submitting your claim to the Injuries Board for assessment. A public place accident solicitor can help you in preparing your application to the Injuries Board and ensure that you follow the process in the correct format, meaning that you can move forward with your claim quickly without unnecessary delays.
It is important to remember to keep copies of any expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident. It is also imperative to retain copies of medical reports or incident report forms where possible as you will need them when making a claim.