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Guillain Barré Lawyer

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a serious autoimmune disorder.  It can be triggered by several factors, including certain viruses and health conditions. Campylobacter and Salmonella are among the leading causes of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. If you or a loved one has suffered or even passed away from Guillain-Barré Syndrome contracted from food poisoning, contact our Guillain Barré Lawyer.

Both Campylobacter and Salmonella are harmful bacterium often found in undercooked poultry. In its most severe form, Guillain-Barre syndrome is a medical emergency. Most people with the condition must be hospitalized to receive treatment.

What does an autoimmune syndrome have to do with foodborne illness? You would be surprised.

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What Exactly is Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)?

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare autoimmune disorder.  That’s a way of saying that the person’s own immune system turns on the body, attacking nerves.  This causes subsequent muscle weakness and sometimes even paralysis.  These symptoms can last anywhere from a few weeks up to several years.  Some people may not fully recover and suffer permanent nerve damage.  Other people may even die as a result of complications.

What Can Trigger GBS?

A variety of viruses and other illnesses can trigger this autoimmune syndrome.  Viruses such as: influenza, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, HIV, and Hepatitis viruses, A, B, C, and E.  Zika virus, caused by infected mosquitos, has also been linked to triggering Guillain-Barré syndrome.  Other illness such as: mycoplasma pneumonia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and even surgery have been found to be triggers for this syndrome.  In rare cases, influenza vaccines and some childhood vaccines have been found to trigger episodes of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Campylobacter and Salmonella are among the most common causes of Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

How Common is GBS?

Guillain-Barre Syndrome is rare.  In the United States, it affects 1 in every 100,000 people, or about 3,000 – 6,000 Americans each year.  Men and people over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for developing Guillain-Barré syndrome.  About 1 in every 1,000 reported Campylobacter cases leads to Guillain-Barré syndrome.  This translates to about 40% of Campylobacter cases triggering Guillain-Barré syndrome.

What are the Symptoms of GBS?

The onset of Guillain-Barré syndrome often starts small.  First, you might notice strange feeling in your legs. A kind of tingling sensation or some weakness.  This can spread to the upper body and to the arms.  The progression begins with tingling and may increase until some of the muscles cannot be used.  In the most serious cases, it can cause partial or full paralysis.  Symptoms can take anywhere from hours to weeks to progress.

Other symptoms may include unsteady gait or the inability to walk or climb stairs.  Some people may experience difficulty with facial or eye movements that might affect speaking, chewing, and swallowing. Muscle weakness or paralysis could also affect normal bodily functions, causing difficulty with bladder control or bowel function.  Rapid heart rate, extreme blood pressure issues, and difficulty breathing may occur.

The peak of weakness symptoms generally occurs within the first two weeks after symptom onset. Unfortunately, the recovery period is just as variable, lasting from as little as a few weeks up to a few years.

If you have recently experienced any of the risk factors such as viral illness, vaccine, or other illness known to promote Guillain-Barré syndrome, consider calling your doctor if you are now experience mild tingling sensations in your toes or fingers.  Particularly if it doesn’t seem to be spreading or worsening.  You should seek immediate medical attention if the tingling that began in the toes or feet has moved up the body, have tingling or weakness that is spreading rapidly, or having difficulty catching your breath or experience shortness of breath while lying flat.  Seek emergency medical attention if you are choking on saliva.

Do Doctors Know Why the Human Body Has This Autoimmune Response?

The specific cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome is still a medical mystery.  What is known, is that it occurs after exposure to a virus or other illnesses and creates an autoimmune response.  The immune system is designed to attack invading organisms that are harmful to our bodies.  In the case of autoimmune issues such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, the immune system attacks the protective covering of the nerves known as the myelin sheath. This damage blocks or stops the signal from the nerves to the brain, which results in the numbness, weakness, or paralysis commonly associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Are There Different Types of Severity with Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

Yes. In the past, doctors thought this was a single syndrome. But modern medicine is now shown that Guillain-Barre syndrome can occur in several different forms, depending on severity. The main types that are typically observed and diagnosed are:

  • Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP): This is the most common form of the syndrome diagnosed in the United States. The most common sign of AIDP is muscle weakness that starts in the lower part of your body and spreads upward to the top of the body.
  • Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS): This is a form of the syndrome where paralysis begins in an affected person’s in the eyes. MFS is also associated with uneasy walking and gait issues. MFS occurs in about 5% of people with Guillain-Barre syndrome in the United States. However, it is more common in Asia.
  • Acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN) and acute motor-sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN): These types are rarely observed in the United States. However, they are regularly diagnosed in several Asian countries (like China and Japan) and in Mexico.

How is Guillain-Barré Syndrome Diagnosed?

Diagnosing Guillain-Barré syndrome can be a difficult task. Signs and symptoms vary so much from person to person.  GBS can also present symptoms similar to some types of neurological disorders.  To diagnose Guillain-Barré syndrome, your doctor would most likely begin with a medical history followed by a physical exam. Diagnostic procedures may include spinal tap, electromyography, and/or nerve condition studies.

A spinal tap consists of a lower lumbar puncture.  A small sample of fluid is removed from the spinal canal in the lower back.  The fluid is analyzed for a type of change that is commonly seen in Guillain-Barré patients.

An electromyography consists of thin needle electrodes that are inserted into the muscles the doctor is needing to study.  These electrodes measure nerve activity in the muscles.  If lower activities are indicated, autoimmune action may be occurring in the nerves.

The nerve conduction studies your doctor may order consists of electrodes taped to the skin above the nerves.  In these studies, a small electric shock is passed through the nerve and the speed of nerve signals are analyzed.

Once Guillain-Barré syndrome is diagnosed, your doctor will likely begin one or more of the treatment options available.

What Are the Treatment Options?

There is no known cure for Guillain-Barré syndrome. Many people recover by waiting out the symptoms (under medical surveillance).  Some may receive treatments designed to ease symptoms or possibly reduce the duration of symptoms.  A common treatment involves a plasma exchange.  This is a procedure in which the straw-colored liquid part of the blood is removed and replaced with healthy plasma.  Other treatments can involve a high-done of immunoglobulin.  This is essentially an infusion of antibodies meant to help the body stop attacking itself.

Hospitalization is important to monitor patient conditions. Earlier treatment offers the best chance at faster recovery and minimizes complications. Complications may include respiratory distress syndrome, heart attack, and possibly death.

Guillain-Barré Outbreak?

While Guillain-Barré may appear in clusters, it is not a contagious or human-to-human transmittable illness.  Clusters often appear because the underlying causes of Guillain-Barré are often communicable illnesses.  Outbreaks of illness or foodborne illness such as Campylobacter and Salmonella, which pose a higher rate of Guillain-Barré syndrome may create a sense of Guillain-Barré syndrome outbreak, though this is not quite an accurate portrayal. If you or a loved one has Guillain-Barré Syndrome after consuming contaminated food, our Guillain Barré Lawyer can help with your claim.

Should I Hire a Guillain Barré Attorney? 

Due to the serious and harmful nature of Guillain-Barré syndrome, it may be in your best interest to hire an Guillain Barré attorney who can handle the legal process for you while you recover. During this incredibly stressful time, the last thing you need are additional hurdles to overcome. There may be many potential defendants in a Guillain-Barré syndrome lawsuit, and food contamination can be extremely difficult to prove. An attorney has the resources to investigate your claim and provide sufficient evidence to hold the negligent parties accountable. 

Each state has its own time limit for which you must file a claim. Typically, it is two years in cases involving Guillain-Barré syndrome stemming from food poisoning. This time period will usually begin on the date you are injured. However, some states allow it to run from the date the victim discovers or reasonably should have known about his or her injury (illness). For instance, if your symptoms take weeks to progress, the time limit of your claim may begin on the date you are diagnosed. 

Having a Guillain-Barré lawyer on your side will minimize your stress and ensure that you receive due compensation to cover your significant medical bills for required hospitalizations and monitoring or treatments you need, such as plasma exchange or a high-dose of immunoglobulin. Many food safety attorneys will represent you on a contingency fee basis, which means they will not collect legal fees, unless they win your case. You won’t have to pay a dime out-of-pocket, plus your Guillain Barré lawyer will have an incentive to work tirelessly on your behalf. 

What Can I Expect From a Guillain Barré Lawsuit?

As with other product liability cases, an attempt will be made to settle your Guillain-Barré syndrome claim outside of court in an effort to save you time and money. Your attorney will start by filing a complaint against the liable parties and serve them with a summon notifying them of the lawsuit. After a discovery phase, in which both parties learn the facts that support each side’s case, discussions for settlement will begin in either an informal or formal setting. 

However, if the responsible parties refuse to negotiate in a fair and just manner, the matter can be taken to court. Litigating a lawsuit will lengthen the process of recovering compensation, but may be necessary in order to obtain the outcome you deserve. 

The threat of a trial date can push the liable parties to settle prior to, but if not, the case will be argued in front of a jury. If the jury rules in your favor, the at-fault parties will either pay the verdict if they know the case is strong or will appeal the decision. Which will only result in more costs and fees. 

What Damages Can I Claim in a Guillain Barré Lawsuit?

A successful Guillain-Barré syndrome lawsuit can recover the following types of damages: 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are typically easily calculable since they have a clear dollar value, and can include: 

  • Medical bills: acute care, hospitalizations, treatments, physical therapy, ongoing care, in-home care, future medical care. 
  • Prescription medication 
  • Lost wages: current and future lost income from missing work. 
  • Lost earning capacity: if a victim has suffered permanent nerve damage, and loses their ability to earn an income or must go into a different line of work. 

Non-Economic Damages

These refer to intangible losses, which can make them difficult to asses, such as: 

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical impairment (such as loss of the use of a limb)
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of life enjoyment

Punitive Damages 

These damages are awarded as a way to punish the at-fault party. They are typically only allowed in cases involving extremely reckless behavior or the intestinal harming of a victim. 

How Much Is My Guillain Barré Lawsuit Worth? 

Each case involving Guillain-Barré syndrome is unique, and how much a lawsuit is worth will depend on the facts and circumstances related to the claim. Nonetheless, there are several factors that can impact a claim’s success. 

The severity and length of time you suffer from Guillain-Barré syndrome can affect your lawsuit’s value. For instance, if you suffer from mild weakness, are able to walk throughout your illness, and don’t require treatment, then it may not be worth the time and expense to pursue a legal claim. 

Whereas serious cases involving hospitalization, paralysis, treatments, and physical therapy raise a lawsuit’s value considerably. When there is a long-term impact on a victim’s life, their medical bills will accumulate,  and they are likely missing a significant time away from work. Resulting in lost income and potential financial hardships. Simply put, the more losses a victim incurs, the higher the value of their claim. 

Who Can Be Held Liable in a Guillain Barré Lawsuit Case?

Guillain-Barré syndrome lawsuits are typically based on the legal theory of product liability, which means the maker, distributed, supplier, or retailer of a defective product can be held legally responsible for any resulting damages. In Guillain-Barré syndrome cases that are linked to food poisoning, that means any party involved in the chain of distribution of the food product. For example: 

  • Producers, individual farmers or corporate entities
  • Suppliers
  • Packagers
  • Trucking companies or other distributors 
  • Restaurant owner or operator, cafeterias, fast food franchises, bakeries, concessioners, caterers, etc.
  • Grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores, etc. 
  • Homeowners and event hosts

These parties are held to strict liability in most states. This means that there does not have to be proof of negligence. Consumers have the right to expect that food products being sold are safe to consume. To prove liability, you must typically only demonstrate that: 

  1. The named defendant (at-fault party) distributed or sold a contaminated food product.
  2. The product was contaminated when leaving the defendant’s control.
  3. You consumed the contaminated product.
  4. As a result, the contamination caused your Guillain-Barré syndrome.

However, that can be easier said than done due to a variety of factors. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact product that caused your illness, especially if there has been a time delay. If many other individuals also became ill from the same product, it can be easier to prove a connection. Especially if a government agency is involved, and traces the contamination.