What are my rights if I recently broke a tooth while eating a packaged snack from a major food manufacturer?

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What are my rights if I recently broke a tooth while eating a packaged snack from a major food manufacturer?

I contacted the company and they asked me to send in the rest of the food in question. I did take a picture of the contaminated food before sending. Upon review they wrote me a letter stating that it was a piece of the machine used to manufacture the food with 2 coupons for a free product. I asked the company what they were going to do about my broken tooth and they told me to get an estimate from a dentist. Before I send the estimate is there anything else I should do and am I entitled to pain and suffering, as I now have a fear of eating pre packaged foods?

Asked on March 13, 2012 under Personal Injury, North Carolina

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

This area of law is product liability because you were injured by a defective product (the machine component that fell in the food package).  You would have claims for negligence and strict liability against both the manufacturer of the product and the seller (store where you purchased the product).

Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable manufacturer would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to produce a product that is not defective).

Strict liability is liability whether or not due care was exercised.

The manufacturer is liable for negligence and strict liability for a defective product.

The seller (store where you purchased the product) is liable for negligence and strict liability even if the store could not have known the product was defective.

When you complete your dental treatment and are released by the dentist, obtain your dental bills, dental reports and if applicable documentation of any wage loss.  Your personal injury claim filed with both the insurance carrier for the manufacturer and the insurance carrier for the store should include these items.  Compensation for the dental bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The dental reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the dental bills.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carriers for the manufacturer and/or store, reject the settlement offers and file your lawsuit against the manufacturer and store with separate causes of action (claims) against both for negligence and strict liability.  If the case is settled with the insurance carriers for both the manufacturer and store, NO lawsuit is filed.  If the case is settled with the insurance carrier for the manufacturer, but not the store, only the store is named as a defendant in your lawsuit.  If the the case is settled with the insurance carrier for the the store, but not the manufacturer, only the manufacturer is named as a defendant in your lawsuit.  If the case is NOT settled with either the insurance carrier for the manufacturer or store, both manufacturer and store are named as defendants in your lawsuit.

If the case is NOT settled with both insurance carriers for the manufacturer and store, you will need to file your lawsuit for negligence and strict liability prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

You said that you now have a fear of eating packaged food.  You can get treatment from a psychologist or psychiatrist to overcome this phobia.  Your medical bills and medical reports from that doctor should be included in the personal injury claim you file with the insurance carriers for the manufacturer and store.  As mentioned above, compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  If there is wage loss, compensation for that is straight reimbursement as mentioned above.  Your personal injury claim filed with the insurance carriers for manufacturer and store should include the dental bills, dental reports, psychological or psychiatric medical bills and medical reports and documentation of any wage loss.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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