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About

An allergic reaction claim can be made when you suffer an allergic reaction because of someone else's negligence like a business not disclosing allergens in their products or a medical professional not considering your allergies. If this happens to you, you may be able to claim compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and other related costs. The amount can vary based on the severity of the reaction and its impact on your life. To prove negligence, you must show that someone had a duty of care, breached that duty, and as a result, you suffered harm. Evidence like medical records, food or product labels, and witness statements can be very helpful in proving negligence in allergic reaction claims. In the UK, you generally have three years from the date of the allergic reaction to file a claim. Next steps

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Allergic Reaction Injury Claims & Compensation

When you or someone you know has an allergy, it can make everyday life situations such as eating lunch or taking basic medication more difficult. However, businesses and manufacturers have a duty of care to ensure that you don’t come into contact with anything you shouldn’t and to make those situations easier to manage. 

Unfortunately, this is not always the case and where it isn’t, allergic reactions can occur - often minor but sometimes life-threatening. 

In this guide, we will look at allergic reaction claims, including how to make an allergic reaction injury claim if you or a loved one has suffered from an allergic reaction due to negligence.

We'll cover:

  • What is an allergic reaction;

  • What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction;

  • Food allergy claims;

  • Fatal allergic reaction claims;

  • Can I sue if I have an allergic reaction;

  • What kind of negligence could lead to compensation if I have an allergic reaction;

  • What evidence do you need to prove an allergic reaction injury claim;

  • How much compensation can I get for an allergic reaction injury claim;

  • What happens if I have an allergic reaction while at work;

  • What are the time limits for allergic reaction compensation claims;

  • How to make an allergic reaction compensation claim;

  • How Lawhive can help.

What is an allergic reaction?

An allergic reaction is an adverse response by the immune system to a substance (allergen) that is usually harmless to most people. The immune system identifies the allergen as a threat and reacts by producing antibodies, leading to the release of chemicals such as histamine. This release of chemicals can cause various symptoms, ranging from mild to severe.

Common allergens that may trigger allergic reactions include:

  • Pollen: Many people in the UK experience hay fever, an allergic reaction to pollen from grass, trees, and weeds.

  • Dust Mites: These microscopic creatures are found in dust, bedding, and upholstery.

  • Animals: Allergens from pets, such as cats and dogs, can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

  • Insect Stings: Bee or wasp stings can lead to allergic reactions in some people.

  • Foods: Common food allergens include nuts, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products.

  • Latex: Some individuals may be allergic to latex, which is found in certain types of gloves, balloons, and medical devices.

  • Medications: Certain medications, such as antibiotics or pain relievers, can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary and may include:

  • Skin reactions: Rash, hives, itching.

  • Respiratory symptoms: Sneezing, runny or blocked nose, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath.

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea.

  • Swelling: Swelling of the face, lips, or other body parts.

In severe cases, an allergic reaction can lead to a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.

If someone experiences symptoms of an allergic reaction, it is important to seek medical advice promptly. Severe reactions, especially those involving difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis, require emergency medical attention. 

Food allergy claims

In 2016, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse tragically died as a result of a severe allergic reaction. She suffered an anaphylactic shock after consuming a baguette from a popular British sandwich chain. The baguette she consumed contained sesame seeds, which Natasha was allergic to. The sesame seeds were not listed on the product's packaging or display.

Despite two doses of an epinephrine auto-injector, Natasha's condition worsened, and she passed away later that day. Her tragic death highlighted the serious consequences of allergen mislabelling and the importance of clear allergen information in food products.

In the aftermath of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse's death, there were calls for improved allergen labelling and greater awareness of food allergies. The incident prompted discussions about how food businesses can better communicate allergen information to customers, especially in the case of pre-packaged and takeaway foods.

As a response to this tragedy, the UK government introduced "Natasha's Law." The legislation, officially known as the Food Information (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2019, came into effect on October 1, 2021.

Natasha's Law requires food businesses in England to provide full ingredient and allergen labelling on pre-packaged foods for direct sale. 

Whilst the above example is rare, it can and has happened. So, if you have suffered harm due to a food allergy reaction caused by the negligence of a food business, or have lost someone on the same basis, you may have grounds for a personal injury or product liability claim. Proving negligence involves demonstrating that the food business failed to meet its duty of care, leading to an allergic reaction.

Compensation in food allergy cases may cover medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of earnings, and other related costs. The amount of compensation can vary based on the severity of the allergic reaction and its impact on your life.

Fatal allergic reaction claims

Making a fatal allergic reaction claim typically involves taking legal action against a responsible party, such as a food business or manufacturer, if the allergic reaction leading to death was due to their negligence. 

If the unimaginable were to happen, first identify who has the legal standing to make a claim. In cases of fatal allergic reactions, close family members or dependents may be eligible to pursue a claim. This can include spouses, parents, children, or other individuals with a legal relationship to the deceased.

Once you have done this, the crucial part is to document everything, including medical records with details of the deceased's allergies and treatments; any packaging from the food source or product; receipts and proof/dates of purchase; and any communications with the manufacturer or company. This evidence will be used to try and prove that the business or manufacturer was negligent. 

Can I sue if I have an allergic reaction?

Yes, you may have the right to sue if you experience an allergic reaction and can establish that someone else's negligence caused or contributed to the reaction.

If your allergic reaction resulted in personal injury, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. This could include seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other related damages.

If the allergic reaction is due to a defect in a product, you might consider a product liability claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the product. This could involve issues like mislabeling or failure to warn about allergens.

There are time limits, known as the statute of limitations, for filing personal injury claims. It's important to consult with a solicitor as soon as possible to make sure you meet these deadlines.

At Lawhive, we offer free case assessments with our expert legal assessment team to help you understand if you have a claim, how long it may take, and the potential costs involved. If you would like to start an allergic reaction compensation claim, contact us today.

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What kind of negligence could lead to compensation if I have an allergic reaction?

Negligence that could potentially lead to compensation often involves a failure to meet a duty of care, especially in cases where allergen information is inaccurate or insufficient. 

Mislabelling or inadequate allergen information

If a food product is inaccurately labelled, and fails to disclose the presence of allergens, it may lead to an allergic reaction. Negligence could be attributed to the manufacturer or distributor for providing misleading or incomplete allergen information.

Example: A consumer, trusting the information on a food label, unknowingly consumes a product that fails to disclose the presence of a common allergen, triggering a severe allergic reaction. Investigation reveals negligence on the part of the manufacturer or distributor for providing misleading allergen infomation.

Cross-contamination

In environments such as restaurants or food production facilities, the failure to prevent cross-contamination can be considered negligence. Cross-contamination occurs when allergens from one food item unintentionally come into contact with another, posing a risk to individuals with allergies.

Example: In a restaurant, a diner with a sever shellfish allergy places an order for a vegetarian dish. The chef, in a rush, uses the same cutting board and utensils that were just used to prepare a seafood dish. As a result, the vegetarian dish is contaminated with shellfish residue. Upon eating the dish, the diner experiences a severe allergic reaction. Investigation reveals that the restaurant staff failed to implement proper protocols to prevent cross-contamination, and the lack of segregation in food preparation led to the unintentional transfer of allergens, constituting negligence on the part of the restaurant.

Failure to follow allergen protocols

Food businesses, especially those handling allergens, are expected to follow specific protocols to prevent allergic reactions. Negligence may occur if a business fails to implement or enforce these protocols, putting individuals with allergies at risk.

Example: In a bakery specialising in gluten-free products, a customer with celiac disease purchases a cake for a special occasion. Unbeknownst to the customer, the bakery fails to properly clean the mixing equipment, leading to trace amounts of gluten contaminating the supposedly gluten-free cakes. After eating the cake, the customer experiences severe symptoms, resulting in significant health issues. Investigation reveals that the baker neglected to follow the necessary protocols and ensure the gluten-free integrity of its product. This failure to implement and enforce crucial protocols amounts to negligence on the part of the bakery.

Server miscommunication:

In restaurants or food service establishments, server miscommunication regarding allergen information can lead to serious consequences. If a server provides inaccurate information about the presence of allergens in a dish, and this information causes an allergic reaction, it could be considered negligence.

Example: In a busy restaurant, a customer with a severe nut allergy asks the waiter for guidance on allergen-free menu options. Relying on the waiter's assurance, the customer orders a dish thought to be nut-free. Unfortunately, due to miscommunication, the dish contains traces of nuts which leads to a severe allergic reaction. Investigations reveal that the waiter provided inaccurate information about the presence of allergens, constituting negligence on the part of the restaurant.

Non-compliance with food safety laws

Negligence may be established if a food business is found to be non-compliant with food safety laws and regulations. This could include a failure to adhere to Natasha's Law, which requires clear allergen labelling on pre-packaged food for direct sale.

Failure to provide adequate medical support

In some cases, negligence may involve a failure to provide adequate medical support when an allergic reaction occurs. This could include a delay in obtaining emergency medical assistance or a lack of proper training for staff to handle such situations.

Example: A customer with a bee sting allergy is stung while enjoying an outdoor meal at a local pub. Despite the severity of the situation, the staff are unsure of how to respond and there is a delay in calling for emergency medical assistance. As a result, the customer's allergic reaction intensifies, leading to a medical emergency. Investigation reveals that the pub lacked proper training for its staff to handle allergic reactions promptly.

What evidence do you need to prove an allergic reaction injury claim?

Like all claims, being organised and making sure you document and keep copies of everything will support your allergic reaction claim. You will need to gather and present evidence that establishes the key elements. 

Comprehensive medical records documenting your allergic reaction are essential. This includes records from the hospital, accident and emergency, or any healthcare facility where you received treatment. The records should detail the severity of the reaction, the treatment provided, and any long-term effects.

Evidence confirming your allergy diagnosis is also really important. This could include medical records from allergy tests, prescriptions for allergy medications, or any documentation from healthcare professionals confirming your known allergies.

If possible, take photographs or videos of the food product or environment that caused the allergic reaction. This can serve as visual evidence of mislabelling, cross-contamination, or other factors contributing to the incident.

Be sure to keep any packaging or labels from the food product that caused the allergic reaction. If the product was purchased from a restaurant, retain receipts or menus that may indicate what was in the meal. It is also key to retain any receipts or other documentation that establishes your purchase of the food product or meal. This helps establish a connection between the product, the responsible party, and your allergic reaction.

Statements from witnesses who observed the incident or were aware of your allergies can be really valuable, also. This could include statements from friends, family, or witnesses who can attest to the circumstances leading to the allergic reaction.

Save any communications (emails, text messages, etc.) with the responsible party (such as a restaurant or food manufacturer) that discuss allergen information or any assurances provided regarding the safety of the food product.

Depending on the complexity of the case, you may seek expert help from allergists, food safety experts, or other professionals who can provide opinions on whether the responsible party's actions constituted negligence.

If the incident involves mislabeling of allergens in pre-packaged food, consider whether the food business complied with Natasha's Law. Documentation confirming non-compliance can strengthen your case.

Keep records of any financial losses or additional expenses incurred as a result of the allergic reaction. This could include medical bills, prescriptions, and any other costs related to the incident.

How much compensation can I get for an allergic reaction injury claim?

The amount of compensation for an allergic reaction injury claim can vary widely based on several factors, including the severity of the injury, the impact on your life, and the specific circumstances of the case. Compensation is typically awarded for both general damages (pain, suffering, and loss of amenity) and special damages (financial losses and expenses).

In general and as a rough average, you could expect to be awarded anything between a few hundred pounds to tens of thousands of pounds.

To get an accurate estimate of potential compensation, it is advisable to consult with a solicitor specialising in personal injury or food safety claims. They can assess the details of your case, consider relevant precedents, and provide guidance on the compensation you may be entitled to pursue.

What happens if I have an allergic reaction while at work?

You may have grounds to sue your workplace if you have an allergic reaction at work, especially if the allergic reaction results from your employer's negligence or failure to take reasonable steps to prevent such incidents.

Employers have a legal duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their employees. This includes taking reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable risks, which may include providing a safe working environment for employees with allergies.

To make a successful legal claim, you would need to demonstrate that your employer was negligent in fulfilling their duty of care. This could involve showing that they knew or should have known about the risk of allergen exposure and failed to take appropriate measures.

If you have a known allergy, your employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your condition and minimise the risk of exposure. Failure to make such adjustments could be a basis for a legal claim.

What are the time limits for allergic reaction compensation claims?

There are certain legal time limits, known as limitation periods, within which you must file a compensation claim for an allergic reaction.

For personal injury claims, including those related to allergic reactions, the general limitation period is three years from the date of the incident or from the date when you became aware (or should have become aware) of the injury and its connection to someone else's negligence.

If the allergic reaction occurred when you were a child, the three-year limitation period typically starts from your 18th birthday. This means you have until your 21st birthday to file a claim.

How to make an allergic reaction compensation claim

If you experience an allergic reaction and believe you may have a case, you should:

Gather evidence

Collect all the relevant evidence you have, including medical records, details about the allergen exposure, any communications with the food business or product manufacturer, and your medical history.

If the incident involved the mislabelling of allergens in pre-packaged food, consider whether the food business complied with Natasha's Law, which requires clear allergen labelling. A solicitor will look into this for you and determine whether this was the case. 

Then, seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in personal injury or wrongful death claims. They can assess the details of the case, determine liability, and guide you through the legal process.

To make a successful claim, you'll need to demonstrate that the responsible party (such as a food business) was negligent in their duty of care. This could involve proving that they failed to provide accurate allergen information or took actions that directly led to the allergic reaction.

Send a Letter of Claim

Your solicitor will likely send a "letter of claim" to the responsible party, outlining the details of the case, the basis for the allergy claim, and the compensation sought. The other party will then have an opportunity to respond.

Depending on the response, there may be negotiations to settle the claim out of court. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case may go to court.

Compensation

If the claim is successful, compensation may be awarded to cover various costs, including medical or funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and other related damages.

Always consult with a solicitor to get personalised advice based on the specific circumstances of the case. Legal professionals can help take you through the legal process and provide guidance on the best course of action.

How Lawhive can help

Here at Lawhive, we know how scary and, in some cases, devastating allergic reactions can be and our expert personal injury solicitors are here to support and guide you in your claim every step of the way. To see how we can help, complete our quick and easy form for a free case assessment and quote. We can get back to you in as little as 48 hours.

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