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Can you sue a restaurant for an allergic reaction?

Sometimes, it seems as if everyone is allergic to the foods that are commonly sold. These days, food sellers and restaurants label food better than ever. Many restaurants have gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and other options that are clearly labeled on their menus. Many foods now declare whether they contain nuts since many people have serious allergic reactions to one or more types of nut.

So what happens if a person suffers a serious allergic reaction or other harm after eating something in a restaurant, bakery or other establishment that wasn't properly labeled? Or perhaps it contained an ingredient -- due to a mistake by those who made it -- that wasn't supposed to be there. Can that business be held liable?

Proving liability can be challenging in these type of legal cases. A plaintiff would need to show that the reaction they suffered was due to the food they were served or sold by a business. If a small market purchased the product in question from a vendor, it may be able to turn around and sue them.

Federal law gives producers of food a duty to warn people if their foods contain "a major food allergen." This would be something like peanuts, which can cause anaphylaxis and lead to death in some cases.

State laws can be less clear-cut on these matters. However, if you can prove that a business was negligent in its food preparation and/or labeling, you may have a better chance of holding it liable for your allergic reaction or other harm. An experienced attorney can offer guidance based on your specific situation.

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