Can you claim compensation for an allergic reaction to food?

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Allergic Reaction Compensation

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Allergic Reaction Compensation

While most allergic reactions are relatively minor, unfortunately a significant number are severe and some can even be fatal. If you suffered an allergic reaction to food due to negligence on behalf of one or more parties then you may well have a claim for compensation.

Common Triggers For Allergic Reactions

In simple terms an allergic reaction is brought on by your immune systems reaction to proteins and other ingredients which the body mistakenly sees as a threat. The reaction will see your immune system flood your body with chemicals which brings on a physical allergic reaction that can have fatal consequences.

Some of the more common food triggers for an allergic reaction in children include:

  • Peanuts;
  • Wheat;
  • Milk;
  • Soya;
  • Eggs.

The main allergen triggers for a reaction in adults are slightly different and include:

  • Fish;
  • Shellfish;
  • Peanuts;
  • Walnuts;
  • Brazil nuts;
  • Almonds;
  • Pistachios.

As we know, different people have allergies to specific ingredients and products and over recent years we have seen an increase in allergic reactions to the following:

  • Gluten;
  • Mustard;
  • Celery;
  • Sesame seeds;
  • Pine nuts;
  • Meat.

If you have had an allergic reaction from nuts you may want to refer to our page on nut allergy claims.

The more severe form of allergic reaction is known as anaphylactic shock (anaphylaxis) where the “false threat” detected by the immune system leads to the release of an enormous amount of chemicals. There is ongoing research into why we have seen a significant increase in the number of allergic reactions in recent times. One suggestion is that “germfree” environments have weakened the immune system while others believe it is down to lifestyle and dietary changes.

Common Symptoms Of A Food Allergy

Two people may react very differently to a food allergy for the same ingredient or food type. However, we know from medical evidence and allergic reaction compensation claims that the most common food allergy signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Food AllergyHives and itching;
  • Tingling in the mouth;
  • Swelling of the lips;
  • Wheezing and nasal congestion;
  • Swelling of the tongue;
  • Swelling of the throat;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting;
  • Dizziness which can lead to fainting.

While most of these food allergy symptoms can be addressed using antihistamines, sufferers will likely continue to experience some discomfort while the antihistamines begin to work.

Anaphylaxis

As we alluded to in our comments above, anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction which can be life-threatening. There are a number of common symptoms for this condition although medical assistance will be required immediately upon their onset.

  • Tightening and constriction of the airways;
  • Swollen throat making it difficult to breathe;
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure;
  • Dizziness which can often lead to unconsciousness;
  • Rapid pulse.

Those suffering from this type of allergic reaction can slip into a coma relatively quickly and some will not awake. Thankfully, there are various medical treatments available which will immediately reduce the impact of the allergic reaction and bring about a degree of normality to the immune system. The quicker these treatments are administered the greater the chance of a full recovery.

Compensation For An Allergic Reaction To Food

While most allergic reactions to specific ingredients and food types tend to be relatively minor, they can still attract compensation if caused by negligence. General damages cover compensation for pain and suffering while special damages cover reimbursement of expenses and lost income. We will now take a look at advised levels of compensation for minor injuries that may be brought on by an allergic reaction. You can also use our compensation calculator further down the page to view advised levels of compensation for various injuries that may be applicable in your allergic reaction claim.

Minor Injuries

  • Where a full recovery is expected within seven days the compensation available would up to £590.
  • Injuries where a full recovery is expected within 28 days can attract compensation in the range of £590 up to £1,170.
  • Injuries where a full recovery may take up to 3 months can lead to compensation payments of between £1,170 and £2,090.

Fatal Reaction

Should death unfortunately follow an allergic reaction to food the compensation settlement would be expected to be quite substantial. However as all fatal accident claims are unique to each individual it is impossible to provide an accurate figure without knowing all of the details.

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*Estimates are based upon the severity of the injury and should be used as a guide only.

Proving Negligence For An Allergic Reaction To Food

Before we look at proving negligence for an allergic reaction to food it is worth noting that the food manufacturer/ retailer is in no way held responsible for the claimant’s allergies but is responsible for making them aware of the ingredients in food produce they are selling.

Seeking medical assistance is imperative at the first sign of a potential allergic reaction because time really is of the essence. Details of the allergic reaction, the individual allergen and treatment received will be noted on the claimant’s medical records which can be used if they pursue allergic reaction compensation.

It is also important to gather any additional evidence to support a claim of negligence including eyewitness statements, evidence of mislabelling on food produce and a record of events to show what occurred before, during and after the allergic reaction. The more evidence you can gather the greater your chances of success.

Legal Advice On Allergic Reaction Compensation Claims

If you believe you have a claim to compensation for an allergic reaction to food you should consider speaking with a solicitor for legal advice. Most solicitors will speak with potential claimants free of charge, even if you just want sound advice. You do not have to claim with the first solicitor you speak with of course, but if the solicitor believes you have a pretty good chance of success the majority will offer to work for you on a No Win No Fee basis. This basically means you would not have to pay anything to start the claim and even as it proceeds. Instead they will agree a “success fee” with you (traditionally 25% of any compensation awarded) which will be paid to the solicitor on a successful outcome. Whichever solicitor you choose you should always make sure you understand what fee/ fees you will end up paying prior to signing on the dotted line.

When an agreement has been reached with your chosen solicitor your claim and evidence will be filed with the courts with the defendant also receiving a copy. Where negligence for an allergic reaction to food is fairly clear and accepted by the defendant this will almost certainly result in an early settlement with no need for court proceedings. If negligence is disputed or there was more than one person/ party involved, your allergic reaction claim will likely go before the courts for a ruling by a judge. The judge will also rule on compensation in the event of a successful prosecution.

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