Will Workers’ Comp Pay Benefits For Food-Borne Illnesses Acquired At Work?

Most people know workers' compensation will pay for medical treatment and other benefits if they are involved in an accident at work or exposed to toxic chemicals on the job. However, you may also be eligible for benefits for something as simple as food poisoning. Here's what you need to know to file a successful claim.

Must Be Connect to Your Employment

Like any other workers' comp claim, the illness must have resulted from something connected to your employment or the workplace. When it comes to food poisoning, this can occur in a few ways:

  • Consuming food and drinks is an integral part of your job (e.g. you're a chef who samples food)
  • There is an onsite cafeteria run by the company for employee use (only private cafeterias qualify; cafeterias open to the public would fall under personal injury)
  • Your employer provided the food that made you ill (e.g. catered event)

For instance, you would have a valid workers' comp claim if you fell ill from food your employer ordered for a mandatory meeting you're required to attend. However, you would have to sue the cook directly if you got sick from food supplied by an employee at a potluck (unless something at work, such as bugs, infected the food).

Challenges Proving Your Claim

There are two challenges you may face with your workers' comp claim when it comes to food poisoning. The primary is proving the illness is connected to the workplace as mentioned previously.

The second issue is proving it was the food that made you ill and not something else. This can be challenging to do, because it can take time for food sickness to manifest. For instance, salmonella poisoning can take up to two days to produce symptoms. You'll have to show nothing you ate or drank in the time between when you consumed the meal at work and when you got sick caused the illness.

You can do this in a couple of ways. The easiest is showing other people were also sickened by the same food. Acquiring and submitting witness statements from the affected people can help bolster your case.

The other option is to have your healthcare professional identify the pathogen that made you ill and tie it back to the food you ate, preferably by testing the food, too. If you can't get a sample of the food you think made you sick, you would have to find another way to prove it was the most likely source, such as showing that type of food as being the only kind to harbor that type of pathogen.

For more information about successfully submitting a workers' comp claim for food poisoning or what other personal injury options are available to you if the insurance provider denies your claim, contact an attorney or click for more information.