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Hepatitis A Lawyer

If you have contracted Hepatitis due to contaminated food, contact us. The Hepatitis A attorneys at The Lange Law Firm, PLLC offer free consultations and can help you explore your legal options.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease.  It is caused by the Hepatitis A virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2015 there were 2,800 Hepatitis A cases in the United States. Hepatitis A is spread primarily by food or water that is contaminated by the feces of an infected person. The method of transmission is especially concerning, as outbreaks of the virus are often linked to sick food service workers. Shellfish that is cultivated in contaminated water and is not cooked properly can also lead to Hepatitis A infections.

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What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious infection that can affect your liver’s ability to function. Its counterparts – Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C – are also liver infections, but are caused by a separate virus. All of them have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver quite differently. Hepatitis A is generally short lived and is not chronic. But Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are short-term, acute infections that can cause long term liver damage in some people. There are vaccines available for Hepatitis A and B, but there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C at this time.

Someone who was formerly ill with Hepatitis A cannot become re-infected with the virus once they have been sick. This is because once someone has been infected with Hepatitis, the body develops antibodies that will be able to protect the body from the virus in the future. These antibodies help in protecting the body from disease by binding itself to the virus and destroying it.

A person can easily transmit the virus to someone else for up to 2 weeks before the symptoms actually start to occur in their body.

Do I Have a Case?

Many different factors come into play when determining if you have a Hepatitis A case. The first is liability. There must be credible evidence linking your illness to contaminated food or water. Promptly reporting your condition and asking your healthcare provider to test you for foodborne illnesses can help provide critical medical evidence and clues for identifying the source. You or your doctor can then report the virus to the health department so they can investigate for a potential outbreak. Outbreak investigations are often successful at exposing the source and the strain linked to it.

If there have been other reported incidents of infections from the same food product, the health department will have already been notified, and you may be able to join a class-action lawsuit. If that were the case, you would only need to prove that you ate or drank the contaminated product and, as a result, suffered from Hepatitis A.

Another factor that determines whether you have a case is the severity of your illness. Generally speaking, you can seek damages or the cost of every consequence of your condition. The total amount of your expenses, such as medical bills, lost income, estimated future costs, and pain and suffering, will represent the damage done to you. The more extensive your losses, the higher the value and strength of your claim.

To know with certainty whether you have a case, speak to an experienced Hepatitis A lawyer from The Lange Law Firm, PLLC. They will assess the facts surrounding your illness and advise you on your rights and legal options for obtaining compensation.

How Can a Hepatitis A Attorney Help My Case?

A Hepatitis A attorney understands the challenges of food poisoning lawsuits and can carefully prepare your case to meet them head-on. Tracing Hepatitis A to a specific cause is challenging since evidence starts to break down almost immediately. Symptoms might not appear for weeks, and in the meantime, you will have eaten other foods. An attorney has the resources to conduct an in-depth investigation and access to the medical experts, consultants, and scientific testimony needed to prove your claim.

There may be multiple liable parties, and some of the defendants may be powerful. For instance, in a case involving a chain restaurant, the defendant will likely have an entire team of attorneys and vast financial resources. A lawyer who regularly handles food safety cases will not be intimidated and will know what to do to obtain the compensation you deserve.

What Compensation Can I Recover?

If you contract Hepatitis A after consuming contaminated food or water, you are entitled to damages for the losses you suffered. The types of compensation available in Hepatitis A cases can include:

  • Acute care, hospitalizations, current and ongoing treatment, prescription medications, and any other related medical expenses
  • Current and future lost income
  • Disability, if you suffered complications
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress, and more

Most Hepatitis A cases settle outside of court after a claim has been filed with the at-fault party’s insurance company. However, if a fair settlement agreement cannot be reached, you and your attorney may choose to pursue a Hepatitis A lawsuit. Each state has an established time limit, known as the statute of limitations, during which a case can be filed. In Texas, you have two years from the day the cause of action occurs. However, the discovery rule may apply in Hepatitis A cases, which can extend the amount of time you have to file based on the day you found out or should have known you contracted the virus from a contaminated product.

Liability in a Hepatitis A Case

If your Hepatitis A was caused by improper food handling, serving, storing, or manufacturing, the parties responsible may be liable for any damages. Any individual or entity in a contaminated food product’s chain of distribution can potentially be held accountable. The types of parties commonly named as defendants in Hepatitis A cases are restaurants, food suppliers, manufacturers, processors, and distributors. An attorney can help you determine which parties can be held legally responsible and the legal theories to base your claim on. Hepatitis A lawsuits are commonly brought under the theory of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty.

Negligence

Companies and individuals that sell or serve food have a duty to ensure their products’ safety. A breach in that duty, such as storing food in unsanitary conditions, is considered negligence. When a breach of duty causes you injury (Hepatitis A), you have the right to pursue damages. Proving negligence, however, can be complex since you must have evidence that the wrongful party violated their duty of care.

Strict Product Liability

Strict liability is a theory commonly used in Hepatitis A cases, sometimes on its own or in conjunction with negligence. The reason being that you do not need to demonstrate evidence of negligence. Defendants can be held strictly liable simply for serving or selling contaminated food if you can prove the product was indeed contaminated, that you consumed it, and as a result was infected with Hepatitis A.

Breach of Warranty

Food that is sold has implied warranties regarding its quality and safety. When a food product fails to live up to those standards or guarantees initially promised by a company or individual (contamination), a breach of warranty case can be made.

Are Hepatitis A, B, and C the same?

No. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are all liver infections, but they are caused by three different viruses. Although each can cause similar symptoms and have similar latency periods, they have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver differently.

Who is at More Risk of the Infection?

Although almost anyone can get infected by Hepatitis A, there are some people who are more at risk. These individuals include:

  • People who are close to or have direct contact with someone who has Hepatitis A
  • Travelers who recently traveled to a developing country or underdeveloped country with risk of Hepatitis A
  • People who use illicit drugs (injection or non-injection)
  • Individuals who suffer from clotting factor disorders, such as hemophilia
  • Those who work with primates
  • Individuals or caregivers who work with children that have been adoptees from a country where Hepatitis A is common

How Does it Affect Our Body?

Symptoms start appearing after 2-6 weeks of exposure, sometimes even up to 7 weeks after. Symptoms usually last for less than 2 months. But some people (10-15%) can suffer from the symptoms of Hepatitis A for as long as 6 months.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A include:

  • Jaundice
  • Dark Urine
  • Pale stools
  • Joint pain and Muscle Pain
  • High Temperature
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Itchy Skin
  • Pain in upper part of the abdomen

About 10-15% of those infected may have a recurrence in the symptoms during the 6 months after the initial infection.

How is Hepatitis A Diagnosed and Treated?

The diagnosis of Hepatitis A involves detection of HAV specific IgM antibodies in the blood. It is detectable after 1-2 weeks of exposure (getting infected) by HAV and is present for up to 14 weeks. The presence of these antibodies indicates that the acute stage of illness is now over, and the person has become immune to other infection.

The medical and general treatment for Hepatitis A involves:

  • rest
  • eating small, light meals
  • avoiding alcohol to reduce strain on liver
  • practicing good hygiene

Anyone who suspects that they may have contracted Hepatitis A should see their doctor if they have any of the symptoms mentioned above of Hepatitis. A visit to the doctor may also be a good idea if someone has traveled to a country where Hepatitis A is common or has been to a restaurant and eaten a meal that linked to a Hepatitis A outbreak.

If the exposure period is still within the first 2 weeks, a post-exposure vaccine can be given as another form of treatment.

Is There a Vaccination for Hepatitis A?

Yes! Vaccination is the most effective way of prevention against the Hepatitis A virus (HAV).

Vaccination is recommended for:

  • Travelers who generally visit to developing countries
  • Food service workers
  • Those who have a high risk of Hepatitis A exposure
  • Those who are exposed to injectable or non-injectable drugs
  • Anyone with a liver disease
  • Those with blood clotting problems
  • Anyone in the high-risk group

Vaccination can also help in preventing the infection if it is taken within 2 weeks of exposure to the virus.

In fact, Hepatitis A rates have declined by more than 95% since the Hepatitis A vaccine first became available in 1995.

How Does Someone Become Infected with Hepatitis A?

  • Eating food that is cooked or handled by someone who has the infection
  • Drinking water contaminated with feces infected by HAV
  • Eating raw or undercooked shellfish
  • By coming into close contact with someone who has the infection

Are There Long-Term Complications?

For most people, the symptoms of Hepatitis A will completely go away within months of infection. There usually will be no long-term effects after an infected person has recovered. After the infection has passed, the infected person develops a lifelong immunity against the virus.

Generally, about 1 in 7 people will have the symptoms of the infection on and off for 6 months before their bodies eventually get over the illness.

Life-threatening complications from Hepatitis A are rare.  But it can cause liver failure. About 1 in 250 people who become infected with Hepatitis A will develop liver failure. People who are at risk of this complication are elderly people and those who might suffer from preexisting liver problems. If you have suffered due to complications arising from Hepatitis A, speak with our Hepatitis A attorney during a free consultation.

What to Do After Suffering from Hepatitis A

Once you know you are suffering from Hepatitis A, continue to rest and focus on recovering. Speak to a Hepatitis A lawyer as soon as possible so they may begin investigating and collecting evidence on your behalf. Your physician may have notified the local health department of your illness, but if they haven’t yet, you or your attorney can do so. When you can, write down as much information as possible regarding the days to weeks before being diagnosed, and include the following:

  • What food you ate
  • When you ate it
  • Where you ate it
  • How the food was prepared
  • Symptoms
  • How your daily life has been impacted

Continue to write down how you are feeling, your symptoms, and any physical limitations you experience on a day-to-day basis.

Fast Facts

  • Hepatitis is a contagious liver infection. It can last for several weeks in some people to several months in others. The fatality rate is high in those at high risk – like the very old, very young, and those with compromised immune systems.
  • Our liver plays an important role in digestion, synthesizing protein, and detoxifying. It also removes harmful toxins from the bloodstream.
  • This is why Hepatitis A infections can be deadly. The liver cannot do its job with full effectiveness with an infection.
  • A Hepatitis A epidemic in Shanghai in 1988 affected a total of 300,000 people.
  • A safe and effective vaccine is available for Hepatitis A. The vaccine can be effective after exposure only if taken within 2 weeks after the exposure.
  • Unlike its counterparts like Hepatitis A and B, Hepatitis A is not chronic. and most people heal completely without any long-term damage.
  • Symptoms of the infection include: fatigue, fever, nausea, appetite loss, jaundice, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, etc.
  • The incubation period (or the time from exposure to symptoms of infection) is anywhere from 2-6 weeks.
  • Treatment generally involves rest and frequent hydration. Some of those who have become infected might also require medical care.
  • Hepatitis A is a common issue in places with improper sanitation procedures or poor personal hygiene.