Personal Injury Lawyers
Attorney Van O'Steen

Restaurant Liable for Injury from Risky Meal

Van O'Steen

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What happens if you are eating with family or friends in a restaurant and you suddenly crack a tooth on a pebble in the beans?

Is the restaurant potentially liable for your injury, including dental bills and pain and suffering?

In Arizona, the answer is yes.  In most cases, the restaurant is liable even thought it exercised all possible care in the preparation of your meal.

Historically, people engaged in the business of selling food for human consumption have been held to a high degree of responsibility for their products.

Clearly, if the food or beverage contains foreign, dangerous substances, such as pebbles, poison or pins, or if the food is rancid and contains dangerous bacteria, the seller may be held liable.

The rule is not absolute, however.  The customer may be charged with assuming the risk of eating certain foods. 

For example, it is common knowledge that a T-bone steak ordered in a restaurant will have a bone in it.  If you injure yourself on the streak bone, you assume the risk, and the restaurant would not be responsible.

Of course, it would be a different matter if you were injured by a metal pin or some other foreign object in the steak.

Almost everything we do presents some degree of risk.  Eating is no exception.

Remember, however, fish with fish bones or steak with steak bones is a risk we reasonably assume.  Those products are not unreasonably dangerous, whether they cause injury or not, and a restaurant will not, as a rule, be responsible for your injuries in such a situation.

The rule of liability in Arizona applies when the food, at the time it leaves the seller’s hands, is in a condition not reasonably contemplated by the consumer, and therefore is unreasonably dangerous to him or her.