What to do if my family have a restaurant and a customer get sick after eating here and now they are going to sue?

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What to do if my family have a restaurant and a customer get sick after eating here and now they are going to sue?

This happened 4 months ago and I received a mail from their lawyer last month. It said that the customer went to the hospital and now the lawyer wants to talk to my insurance company. However, I don’t have insurance. So far I haven’t responded to the lawyer. If I continue not to respond, what is going to happen? Can the lawyer close my restaurant? If he can, how long will it take?

Asked on July 17, 2014 under Personal Injury, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you don't respond and come to some agreement they find satisfactory, they can try to sue you for any medical costs they customer incurred, any lost wages (such as if they couldn't work for a few days), and *possibly* for pain and suffering if they suffered some long-lasting impairment or disability; the fact that you don't have insurance doesn't mean they can't sue and, if they win, expect you (or your restaurant, if it's a corporation or LLC) to pay the money.

That doesn't mean you have to agree to pay anything: bear in mind that to win if they sued  you, 1) they'd have to prove, such as with both witness and medical testimony, that the person got sick at your restaurant, due to some problem with the food; and 2) that the amount of money they are claiming or asking for is directly related to that illness. You may feel that they can't prove it was your fault; or that they amount they are asking for is ridiculous. Just bear in mind, that if they think they are owed something and you and they can't work it out, they could sue you for the money, and you'd have to deal with the lawsuit.

They cannot themselves directly close the restaurant, but if they feel there was health or sanitary violation, they could report you to the appropriate government agency, which may investigate and, if they find a problem, take action.


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