Laura Barajas, a 40-year-old California woman, has been in the hospital for two months due to a bacterial infection that’s been linked to undercooked tilapia, which she purchased from a local market. According to the woman’s friend Anna Messina, Barajas has lost all 4 limbs and is still in recovery after almost losing her life. According to Messina, “They put her into a medically induced coma. Her fingers were black, her feet were black her bottom lip was black. She had complete sepsis and her kidneys were failing.”
Messina believes that her friend was infected by vibrio vulnificus, a species of bacteria that live in coastal waters. The source of contamination may have been undercooked tilapia, which Barajas consumed right before she became ill. While the exact cause of the infection is being investigated, vibrio vulnificus is a possible culprit.
How the fish came to be infected in the first place is another issue that merits investigation. Fish and seafood contamination can happen for all sorts of reasons, which is why there are strict safety standards that must be followed by restaurants and food processing plants. If a third party’s negligence causes someone to get sick, the victim may be entitled to monetary compensation from a personal injury lawsuit.
The incident concerning Laura Barajas is extremely concerning, as it may be indicative of an outbreak, meaning countless people can end up with the same bacterial infection. Even if your injuries were not as serious as the ones suffered by Barajas, it’s clear that this is a highly dangerous infection. That’s why you should speak to an attorney right away if you became ill after consuming a fish or seafood product. The lawyers of DTLA are ready to advise you of your rights, so contact us for a free consultation.
What is Vibrio Vulnificus?
Most people are unfamiliar with the infection that has kept Laura Barajas in the hospital for the past two months. However, the bacteria known as vibrio is an organism that’s commonly found in coastal waters, and as a result, it can build up inside shellfish and other types of seafood. Vibrio is most abundant during the warmer months, though they can exist in coastal waters all year long.
Shellfish, particularly oysters, present the highest risk of infection, as they eat by extracting particles from seawater. That means the bacteria can linger inside the animal and end up inside an unsuspecting victim, where it can lead to all sorts of gastrointestinal, skin, and bloodstream disorders. That’s why the Center for Disease Control has issued warnings on eating raw oysters and other seafood, which increases your risk of infection from vibrio vulnificus and other waterborne diseases.
Fortunately, thoroughly cooking your fish or seafood is an easy solution to this problem. It’s been revealed that Barajas may have consumed tilapia that was undercooked, which is one of the most common ways to contract vibriosis.
Who is Responsible for a Case of Food Contamination?
Contamination of food can happen very easily, and that’s why it can be difficult to determine who is at fault when someone ends up with a foodborne illness. Frankly, one has to assume a certain amount of risk when eating seafood that they’ve purchased and cooked for themselves. Or, if you enjoy eating raw fish, like sushi, there is still an element of risk that you are taking on, as you made the choice to consume an uncooked product.
However, there are cases of food illness outbreaks that are caused by product manufacturers and restaurants. We see this a lot with salmonella poisoning, which can cause severe illness in babies, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems. But the recent case involving Laura Barajas is even more concerning due to the severity of her injuries, which include the loss of all 4 limbs. Many cases of contamination happen inside the food processing plant due to unsafe food handling practices, contaminated equipment, and other acts of negligence.
Undercooked tilapia and other fish can be a problem at restaurants as well, ranging from takeout places to upscale cafes and bistros. Just one batch of fish can result in severe illness for many customers, which is why the FDA and state health departments have food safety requirements for businesses that serve food.
For more information on the entities that may be responsible for a case of food poisoning, don’t hesitate to contact our office.
Can I Sue if I was Diagnosed with Vibriosis after Consuming Undercooked Fish?
You may have grounds to file a lawsuit for injuries from vibrio vulnificus if negligence by someone else caused you to be infected by this virus. As we said before, cooking the fish is the best way to avoid vibriosis, but you are not in control of the cooking process when you order from a restaurant.
By the same logic, you are not in control of what happens to a product when it’s in the hands of the manufacturer or processing plant. These include prepared products that are essentially cooked and frozen, thus, all the consumer has to do is reheat them in the oven or microwave. That means the item has to be fully cooked to begin with; otherwise, the consumer is at risk of numerous bacterial infections, including vibriosis.
Determining who is at fault for a food-related illness is a challenging process, so it’s best to work with a law firm with many years of experience in food contamination lawsuits. DTLA Law Group has a proven track record of recovery against food companies, supermarkets, restaurants, and other entities that are liable in cases of bacterial outbreaks. To schedule a free case review with a member of our legal team, please give us a call.
What is the Time Limit to File a Lawsuit?
Generally, the deadline to sue a negligent party for bodily harm is 2 years from the date of the incident. This can be the date of consuming the food that caused your illness or the date of discovering an illness related to the food (date of diagnosis). We can clarify the exact amount of time you have for a lawsuit, so contact us right away if you believe that your illness was caused by a contaminated food product. Regardless of how much time you have to file a claim, you should not wait to learn about your rights and legal options as the victim of another party’s negligence. The sooner you take action, the sooner you can receive compensation and move forward from this painful chapter in your life.
Lawyers with Experience in Contaminated Food Injury Claims
Many people start the legal process with the idea that they can handle the claims process on their own. But they quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the legal system, which can be quite challenging to navigate without help from a seasoned personal injury attorney.
By consulting a member of our legal team, you can obtain answers to any questions you have about your case. These are likely to include:
- What types of compensation can I receive if I go ahead with a lawsuit?
- How much is the average settlement for these cases?
- How long does it usually take to reach a settlement?
- What are the chances of my case going to trial?
- I’m having issues with my current attorney and feel like my case is on the wrong track. What are my options?
That last question comes up quite often when claimants contact our office. Many of them ask about the possibility of switching lawyers in the middle of a lawsuit, which you can do no matter where you are in the legal process. But whether you should find a new law firm depends on a variety of circumstances that we will need to discuss with you in private. That’s why we would like to offer you a free second opinion, where you can meet with one of our attorneys to discuss the issues in your case.
No Cost Legal Services
A foodborne illness can have devastating effects on your body, as well as your finances. With that in mind, we would never ask you to pay upfront for the cost of legal services. If you developed vibriosis or another seafood-related disease due to another party’s negligence, we will represent you at no upfront cost under the Zero Fee Guarantee. Our bills are covered by the defendant and included in the compensation award you receive from a personal injury lawsuit. That means you won’t have to worry about receiving any bills from us if we don’t recover your settlement.
A food contamination lawsuit attorney is just a phone call away, so please contact us to schedule a free case evaluation.