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Is Suing a Restaurant Your Best Course of Action?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. | Last updated on

Although a subpar meal isn't likely to be sufficient grounds for a lawsuit, there are some circumstances in which a customer may consider pursuing legal action against a restaurant.

At a TGI Fridays in New York, a holiday promotion featuring drone helicopters adorned with mistletoe hovering over patrons provides an example of such a circumstance. A photographer was injured when she was struck by a drone's rotor blade in the nose, suffering a cut, reports Brooklyn Daily.

It's not clear if the woman injured by the drone is considering legal action. But whether an injury is caused by a drone, by food poisoning, or by a slippery floor caused by a spilled drink, what is generally required for a lawsuit against a restaurant?

Negligence Lawsuits

In many cases, a lawsuit against a restaurant or other business will be based upon the legal theory known as negligence. Negligence includes personal injury lawsuits such as slip-and-fall accidents, but it can be applied to any situation in which an individual is damaged by another's failure to live up to a legal duty to act reasonably.

Frequently, a lawsuit against a business such as a restaurant will be based on premises liability. Premises liability is a type of negligence in which a property owner or tenant is held legally liable for failing to maintain a safe environment. Although the laws vary by state, customers at restaurants are generally owed a legal duty by the owners or leaseholders of a property to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the premises.

The owners of a restaurant may also be liable for the negligent or intentional acts of their employees. The legal doctrine of respondeat superior generally holds employers liable for the negligence of workers who cause injury or damage while performing their job duties. This same vicarious liability does not typically extend to those hired as independent contractors, however.

Other Considerations

When considering a lawsuit against a restaurant, there will be several other considerations worth thinking over, such as:

  • How serious were your injuries? If your injuries are minor, you may have a difficult time being awarded any damages in a lawsuit. In order to recover you will have to prove your damages in court, through medical bills, lost wages, or other evidence.
  • Is your potential damage award worth the time, money and effort of a lawsuit? A lawsuit -- even one in which a plaintiff represents himself -- can be costly in both time and effort. If there are not sufficient damages or you do not have a viable legal claim, a lawsuit may not be worth the effort.
  • Who owns the restaurant? In the event the restaurant is part of a national chain, potential plaintiffs may include not just employees and the restaurant's franchisee, but also the parent corporation under some circumstances.

Learn more about the personal injury, slip and fall, and other types of injury lawsuit at FindLaw's section on Accident and Injury Law.

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