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Opening a Food Truck? 3 Potential Legal Issues

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on July 03, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Food trucks are all the rage these days, allowing both entrepreneurs and established restaurant owners to take their culinary shows on the road.

But with the rewards come unique risks. As shown by Tuesday's explosion of a Philadelphia food truck, even a truck-sized food business can present potential legal liabilities.

If you're thinking about getting behind the wheel of a food truck, what should you be aware of? Here are three potential legal issues to keep in mind:

  1. Permitting problems. The story of another Philadelphia food truck illustrates the potential pitfalls of failing to secure the proper permits: A woman known as The Cupcake Lady had her truck seized by city officials after she was found operating in the University City area of Philly without the proper permit. So make sure you research which permits are required for the city, county, and state where you plan to do business.
  2. Truck-driving accidents. Although your food truck (hopefully) won't be doubling as your daily driver, getting your truck around town still puts you at risk for being involved in an accident. Your truck will have to be insured not just as a vehicle, but also as your business, which may make insurance a little harder to find and probably a lot more expensive, as detailed by The Washington Post. If you allow employees to operate the truck, be aware that you may be held liable for damages or injuries that they cause through their own negligence.
  3. Food poisoning fallout. If someone comes down with a case of food poisoning after eating at your truck, you can be held liable even if you did everything right. In a product liability case, everyone in the chain of commerce is a potential defendant. If the person can prove that they purchased the tainted food from your truck, and that product was the source of their injuries, you can potentially be held liable. You can always lessen the risk by making sure your truck follows all proper food safety guidelines and by staying on top of any food recalls that are issued.

If you are considering jumping into the food truck business, an experienced business lawyer can help you avoid these and any other potential legal issues down the road.

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