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California Food Tampering Laws and Consequences

Can You Sue for Food Delivery Workers Touching Your Food?

Fortunately, it does not happen very often, but one valid concern amongst people who utilize food delivery services is the possibility of their food being tampered with by a food delivery driver. Tampering can take on many forms, each more unpleasant than the next.

For example, it is not uncommon for a food delivery driver to reach into a bag of fast food and snatch up a handful of fries. This is technically not illegal, although it is offensive. However, what if a food delivery driver spits in or licks your food? In that case, the driver can actually be arrested and charged with battery.

Below, our food delivery accident lawyers will discuss the various laws affecting food tampering and any possible legal consequences for a food delivery driver who does this. If you or a loved one suffered injuries as a result of a food delivery incident or accident, the experienced food delivery accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are always here to answer any questions you may have about claims and damages available to you.

Federal and State Laws Against Food Tampering

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Let’s examine the federal law which prohibits food tampering and makes it a punishable offense. According to the United States Department of Justice, Subsection (a) of 18 U.S.C. § 1365 “prohibits tampering or attempted tampering with any consumer product that affects interstate or foreign commerce, or with the labeling of, or the container for such a product. The tampering must be done with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury. Furthermore, the tampering must be done under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the risk of death or bodily injury.”

The above is fairly straightforward and can sometimes apply to food delivery tampering. However, California is a bit more specific regarding food tampering.

California (Penal Code Section 347) states that any individual who deliberately and knowingly adds a poison or harmful substance to a drink, food, medicine, or pharmaceutical product in situations where someone can be harmed, may then be found guilty of a felony which can be punished with a prison sentence of 2 to 5 years.

In other words, food tampering can be a very serious crime. Furthermore, a substance that causes severe physical injury or death will add three more years to that individual’s sentence.

This may not provide much comfort to someone who just ordered a large order of fries, but do know that a food delivery driver who deliberately spits on someone’s food knowing that they are sick can get into serious trouble.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. Incidents happen. If you were involved in an accident or incident caused by a DoorDash, Postmates, or Uber Eats driver, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses. If you were injured or harmed as a result of a delivery driver’s negligence or deliberate acts of malice, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.

Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Limitations for Damages in California 
For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.

However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is $250,000.

Contact Us 

If you or a loved one was involved in a food delivery accident, West Coast Trial Lawyers has skilled food delivery accident attorneys that have extensive experience in handling personal injury cases. Our attorneys will help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

We offer a free, no-obligation consultation at our firm. No fees are paid until your case is settled. Reach out to our legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].