How To Claim Compensation For An Allergic Reaction To Restaurant Food

In this article, we look at how you could claim compensation for suffering an allergic reaction in a restaurant. Using the expertise of a panel of professional lawyers, we discuss how you might claim for an allergic reaction from any of the common toxic food triggers, such as:

  • Seafood
  • Nuts
  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Shellfish
  • Lupin

Perhaps these ingredients were included in the meal you ordered without your consent. The menu may not have alerted you to their inclusion. 

Below, we help you to decide who had the legal responsibility for your safety and how you can claim against them at no upfront cost to you if they breached it.

There are laws that seek to protect us in public places from the negligence of private operators and we explain in detail how you can use them to build a potential claim. Therefore, if you were exposed to something toxic without prior warning and as a result were made ill we explain:

  • How to determine the duty of care
  • Demonstrate how it was breached with evidence
  • Refer to the laws that protect us in this area
  • How to use a No Win No Fee lawyer to claim damages against them

We include links to government websites and statistics throughout this article. In conclusion, we show you how to get in touch with our panel of specialist personal injury lawyers who could handle your case. 

We’ll also aim to answer any questions or reservations you might have about starting a personal injury claim.

You can contact us at any point throughout reading this and our team will be happy to advise. We are available 24/7 to offer free, no-obligation legal advice about making a claim for an allergic reaction in a restaurant. You can call direct on 0800 408 7825 or email us by clicking here.

Select a Section

  1. A Guide To Claiming Compensation For An Allergic Reaction To Restaurant Food
  2. What Is An Allergic Reaction?
  3. Allergic Reaction Statistics In The UK
  4. What Are The Main Food Allergies?
  5. What Is A Restaurant’s Duty Of Care?
  6. How Can A Restaurant Trigger An Allergic Reaction?
  7. How Much Compensation For An Allergic Reaction?
  8. No Win No Fee Agreements For A Claim For An Allergic Reaction
  9. Finding The Right Solicitor For You
  10. Contact Us
  11. Extra Resources

A Guide To Claiming Compensation For An Allergic Reaction To Restaurant Food

This article explains how to use a No Win No Fee lawyer to win compensation from a restaurant or food provider if they failed to alert you about ingredients that you are allergic to. It also offers advice if you instructed a food provider about your allergies and they failed to act properly on that instruction.

Firstly, it should be noted that restaurants are liable if they do not take notice of allergy advice and you could seek damages against them for injuring you. In addition to this, the law will soon be changing and it will no longer be your responsibility to tell them of allergies.

Our panel of personal injury lawyers generally concentrate on three main areas of personal injury law:

  • Accidents in the workplace (Employers’ liability)
  • Accidents in public places (Public liability)
  • Road traffic accidents (RTA’s)

Our article focuses on injuries caused by allergic reaction incidents in restaurants. The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, as well as other relevant statutes like the Food Safety Act 1990 clearly places the duty of care on the restaurant to make sure what they feed us is not going to cause harm.

This law explicitly requires private operators and local authorities to ensure that the public is given all the information necessary to make safe choices for themselves. It also requires that the premises are equally hygienic and safe for use by everyone.

For the most part, restaurants adhere to these laws, however, you might have grounds to sue when there is a lapse in the care and hygiene required and it causes you injury or illness. 

If you have any questions on how to make an allergic reaction claim or would like to proceed with one, please get in touch with us on the number at the top of this page.

What Is An Allergic Reaction?

Around 20% of the UK population suffers from some kind of allergy, according to the latest figures from Allergy UK. As scientific techniques have advanced it has become easier to identify who has an allergy to certain food types and what foods might trigger that negative reaction.

What happens when you have an allergic reaction as a consequence of something you’ve eaten?

  • Tingling, itching, and burning sensation in the mouth
  • A sudden rash or hives on the body
  • Swelling of the throat causing breathing issues
  • Increased heart rate
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Dizziness, nausea, and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and diarrhoea
  • In severe cases, anaphylactic shock, loss of consciousness, and even death

Clearly, a reaction to peanuts, milk, soya or wheat can be incredibly serious for some. This NHS link gives advice about what to do if you feel you’ve been exposed to something toxic to you.

Allergic Reaction Statistics In The UK

Modern food processing techniques and the inclusion of certain ingredients can worsen allergic reactions for many people. Statistics show an explosion of numbers in this area:

  • 150 million Europeans suffer from chronic allergic reactions
  • In the 20 years up to 2012, there was a 615% increase in hospital admissions for anaphylactic shock

It can be fraught with risk for some people to eat something cooked for them or purchased from an outlet. It’s essential that restaurants and shops give clear advice about what their meals contain as for many it can literally be a case of life or death.

You may do everything you can to avoid the foods that cause you allergies but if a restaurant isn’t being careful with their cooking procedures or menus, you could still be a victim.

What Are The Main Food Allergies?

As a consequence of this heightened interest in food ingredients and the importance to the unsuspecting customer, most restaurants try hard to be clear about what’s in their food.  Penalties can be harsh if they do not. 

Your claim for an allergic reaction could have grounds if you feel:

  • There were potentially risky ingredients you were not advised about, such as instances of cross-contamination
  • The information was deliberately withheld
  • You were served by staff who were not trained to be allergy aware
  • Your request was not relayed to the chef, or the chef ignored it

What food types should we be alert to? The list below is a general cross-section of the most common triggers for allergic reactions. It should be noted that this list is not exhaustive.

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

All of the above have the potential to cause serious discomfort and injury if you are allergic to them. 

The long term results of an allergic reaction can disrupt your life and cost you money. A No Win No Fee lawyer from our panel could help you file a claim and win those costs back in your settlement. Get in touch with our personal injury claims team today to find out more.

What Is A Restaurant’s Duty Of Care?

For Customers

There are strict laws for people who want to legally operate a restaurant. If they have done something wrong during food preparation that harmed you directly, there are three requirements for establishing liability:

  • Who had the duty of care
  • In what way did they breach it?
  • What were the consequential injuries to me?

Obviously, proof is important. It is possible to suffer an allergic reaction to food 24 hours after ingesting. Evidence that can support your claim can include:

  • Hospital or GP notes
  • Witness statements
  • Photographic proof of missing warnings on menus
  • Your receipt from the restaurant. Sometimes bespoke orders are noted on receipts. 

The duty of care points above forms the solid foundation of your claim for negligence.  

Duty of care is an essential component of a civilized, orderly society. Similar rules protect our safety in the workplace (The Health And Safety At Work etc Act 1974) and on the roads (The Highway Code).

Obviously, it’s hoped that everyone will do their best to adhere to these laws, therefore you have a legal right to sue if they fail or ignore them.

Duty Of Care Over Employees

Restaurant operators have a separate duty of care to the people they employ. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act requires them to provide a safe, hygienic work environment as much as possible. Everything from cuts and burns to attack from customers is covered under this law.

If you’ve suffered harm as an employee of a restaurant because your employer breached their duty of care, we can help you too. Get in touch with our personal injury claims team to find out more.

How Can A Restaurant Trigger An Allergic Reaction?

The food in restaurants can trigger allergic reactions in several ways that customers may not be aware of. A new chef with strong opinions about how a meal should be made could breach the agreed menu ingredients and place you at risk. Likewise, they could:

Add unapproved ingredients

To ‘free-wheel’ with ingredients is part of the spirited creativity of some chef’s cooking style. However, menus must clearly indicate what ingredients they intend to include to give the customer the best chance of making an informed health decision. Failure to do this could lead to someone suffering an allergic reaction.

Cross contaminate with cooking utensils, bowls, woks, etc

Kitchen hygiene standards are also essential and covered by the law, but sometimes even the cleanest kitchen will re-use utensils and appliances. It’s key to avoiding food poisoning and allergic reactions to prevent cross-contamination as much as possible. If your allergies were triggered by lazy or incompetent food preparation standards in the restaurant kitchen you could have grounds to launch a personal injury claim.

Poor Allergy Advice On Menus And Lack Of Labelling

The whole point of an exotic restaurant is to experience new and surprising culinary delights. Restaurants market themselves as interesting and unique and their food aims to live up to this with a menu to match. 

This can be a minefield for the allergy sufferer. A clear and adhered-to menu is often their only support to avoid a terrible flare-up of hives or potential suffocation from anaphylactic shock. If you ordered from a menu that did not clearly indicate all ingredients, speak to our team for advice if you subsequently suffered an allergic reaction.

A Restaurant Accepted But My Request It Still Contained An Allergen

You could hold them liable if they failed to relay your request to the chef or ignored it. Every restaurant has a responsibility to train staff properly and fully list ingredients clearly on its menus for any member of the public who uses them. 

If you believe staff disregarded your request or you were given something to eat that included an ingredient you asked to be excluded, speak to our team for advice about how to make a negligence claim.

Other factors may have contributed to the message not being given properly such as language barriers or inexperienced staff. This does not affect your right to claim. 

It’s the responsibility of the restaurant to ensure they employ people who can understand and comprehend instructions properly. It’s a vital part of the customer service level they are expected by law to provide.

I Didn’t Tell The Restaurant About My Allergy. Can I Still Claim For My Allergic Reaction?

Yes. From 2021 new legislation will require all food businesses to fully declare all ingredients in the food they sell or plan to make for customers. The momentum for this new law came about after a teenager called Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died after eating an undeclared ingredient in a pre-packet item of food. Natasha’s Law aims to transform the responsibility of restaurants to be more careful about how they cook.

A No Win No Fee lawyer from our specialist panel can give advice on how to gather evidence to support your claim for negligence. In addition to this, they can also advise on reclaiming costs back from the defendant if the allergic attack was protracted and stopped you working.

So if you incurred a cost trying to deal with the consequences of your food poisoning, speak to our friendly team for advice.

How Much Compensation For An Allergic Reaction?

No Win No Fee lawyers can seek two types of damages on your behalf once it’s clearly established that your allergies were triggered as a consequence of negligence in a restaurant.

The first head is general damages. This is compensation designed to account for the physical pain, psychological suffering and the impact on your quality of life the allergic reaction caused.

Compensation for general damages often depends on the severity of your injuries. Our compensation calculation table shows a range of possible awards:

Minor ReactionFrom around £860 to £3,710
Significant Reaction£3,710 to £8,950
Serious Reaction£8,950 to £18,020
Severe Reaction£36,060 to £49,270

It’s important to remember that whilst many online No Win No Fee law firms offer ‘instant personal injury claims calculators’ they can often misjudge the potential settlement amount. Speaking directly to a personal injury specialist is the best way to account for every detail of your case. All factors can be taken into account and your claim for an allergic reaction can be properly valued.

Special Damages

The second head of damages your personal injury lawyer will seek on your behalf is called special damages. Briefly, they seek to restore any harm done to your finances and prevent unnecessary suffering in that area of your life. Examples of expenses you could have included as damages against the defendant are:

  • Loss of earnings from work
  • Missed future work
  • Travel costs to the hospital
  • Anti-allergy medications or treatments
  • Care costs for anyone who looks after you whilst sick
  • Any other lost deposits or expenses incurred from being ill

It’s important to note that a triggered allergic reaction can cause weeks of illness. You can include any expenses that were incurred from being made sick at the restaurant under special damages. 

If there’s a cost you’re not sure about please feel free to call our team to discuss your case.

No Win No Fee Agreements For A Claim For An Allergic Reaction

A way for many people to start a negligence case quickly and at no initial cost to them is to use No Win No Fee agreements, also known as Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs. There are many other benefits to using a personal injury solicitor in this way, for example:

  • There are no fees to pay upfront
  • In addition, there is nothing to pay while the case is ongoing, in spite of however long that might take
  • There’s nothing to pay your lawyers at all if your case fails
  • There’s a small fee to pay which is capped by law when a case wins.
  • The fee is only payable after you have received the full compensation payout
  • Expert legal advice and support at your fingertips throughout your case

It should be noted that there is a time limit of three years from the date of your allergic reaction or date of accident generally for launching personal injury claims. No Win No Fee agreements can enable you to pursue damages in a claim quickly and at no upfront expense. As a result, you can launch a case well within the time limit at no immediate cost.

To summarize, No Win No Fee agreements are designed to help people like you launch a successful claim today. Every case differs and compensation amounts are never guaranteed but it’s easy to call and discuss the potential settlement with our team.

Finding The Right Solicitor For You

To recap and to clarify:

  • Who had the duty of care to you and how did they breach it?
  • Medical evidence can be obtained as part of the claim to prove how the restaurant’s negligence harmed you
  • It’s important to record and collect all the costs the injuries have caused you.

What do you do next? Many people simply use the law firm in their local high street or perhaps go online and search for ‘No Win No Fee’. Undoubtedly this would generate thousands of results but not necessarily refine your search for the right personal injury lawyer.

We offer a service that could introduce you to skilled No Win No Fee lawyers from our specialist panel who handle cases for people remotely across the whole country. Importantly, when you speak to our team you can benefit from the direct expertise of our panel and give your claim for an allergic reaction the strongest possible chance of success.

Contact Us

It should be noted that all advice from our team is free and there’s no obligation to proceed. Making contact is easy. You can:

In conclusion, we hope that you’ve found this article useful and it has helped in your decision to make a negligence claim. If you’re ready to proceed or if you just require more information, we look forward to taking your call.

Extra Resources

You can click on any of the highlighted text in this article to read more information and the links below contain more information on the topics we’ve discussed.

Please click here for further reading on allergic reactions

For further information on diet and food awareness, please click here

More information on the treatment of mild allergic symptoms, please read here

Click here for our guide on how to claim compensation for an accident at work

Or here for our guide on how to claim compensation for an injury in a public place

And we also have a guide on how to claim compensation for a car accident here. 

Thank you for reading our guide on how to claim for an allergic reaction.


Guide by FE

Edited by RN