Eating Out: What You Need to Know About Restaurant Safety

What you need to know about restaurant safety while eating out

We all enjoy a great night out at a high-end restaurant, grabbing a few beers at the bar while watching the game, or a brunch on the weekends at the neighborhood joint. We never want anything to ruin our experiences when we go out. But sometimes bad things happen and injuries can occur. Here are a few legal and safety issues people should consider about restaurant safety and what to do in the event of an injury.

A restaurant, like any business open to the public, owes a duty to keep the premises safe for the customers who eat and drink there. The types of risks at a restaurant range from improperly cooked food, spillage of food or beverages on the floor, failure to maintain parking lots and walkways, to the excessive service of alcohol to patrons. The duty on a restaurant does vary depending on the risk, but at a minimum, restaurants must warn its customers of risks that it has not, or cannot, timely remedy.

In a classic example of an injury at a restaurant, a customer slips on a wet floor caused by a spilled drink or a dropped plate. To pursue a claim against the restaurant, the patron needs to establish that the restaurant caused the floor to become wet and/or was aware of the wet floor, that the restaurant failed to remedy the wet floor and/or failed to warn customers to avoid the wet condition, and the customer suffered an injury due to the wet floor. A key factor in whether a restaurant is responsible for an injury resulting from a “slip’n’fall” is when the restaurant received notice of the condition and how long the restaurant had to remedy the condition before the injury occurred.

Food safety is another concern. A restaurant sells food and beverages and ensures that the food and/or drink is safe to consume. Patrons implicitly trust that the food was properly stored and cooked. The law reflects this heightened level of trust and restaurants can be liable if they serve food or drink that harms a patron. Patrons also can look to state and local governments to inspect restaurants for potential health and safety concerns.

There are a number of online resources patrons can refer to when inspecting restaurant safety. In Rhode Island, the Department of Health maintains a database of inspection reports for restaurants: http://ri.healthinspections.us/RI_EH/. The website contains years’ worth of inspection reports for restaurants throughout the state. These inspection reports are useful not only as a preventive measure to evaluate a restaurant before you eat there, but in the event of an injury at a restaurant, prior inspection reports may prove valuable in establishing that a restaurant was aware of a risk and failed to take an appropriate corrective action. Another good source of information are social media sites like Yelp that provide restaurant reviews and can be an additional source of notice to a restaurant of a condition that impacts patron safety.

Finally, restaurants can owe a duty not only to its patrons, but to third parties who are injured due to the actions or failure to act of the restaurant and/or its employees. The most prominent example is when a restaurant serves too many alcoholic beverages to a patron and that patron causes injury to another, such as an accident caused by a drunk driver. In this kind of case, known as a dram shop action, a restaurant may be legally responsible if they served booze to an individual the restaurant knew to be intoxicated.

In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one suffers an injury, feel free to contact the attorneys at Decof, Decof & Barry, P.C. to discuss your case. They have decades of experience reaching successful results for injured persons and their families in a broad range of personal injury cases, including for injuries that occurred at restaurant.

Video Profile

Decof, Decof & Barry

Schedule a Free Consultation

We work for clients on a contingency fee arrangement, which means you pay no legal fee or costs unless we obtain a verdict or settlement for you.

Firm News and Events
Decof, Decof & Barry Recognized among Best Law Firms by U.S. News – Best Lawyers®
Read More
Attorneys of Rhode Island Law Firm Decof, Decof & Barry Named Super Lawyers & Rising Stars
Read More
Michael P. Quinn, Jr. Wins Record Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case in Rhode Island
Read More
From our Blog
How to Legally Prevent Unexpected Medical Bills

May 22, 2018

Nationwide nearly one in three Americans with private insurance received a surprise medical bill between 2014 and 2016. A surprise medical bill is an unexpected bill from an out–of–network provider or from a provider not chosen by a patient. Surprise medical billing happens when a patient goes to a hospital, emergency room or doctor’s office…

Read More

What are the Time Limits to Make a Wrongful Death Case?

May 8, 2018

In Rhode Island, the legislature has enacted the Rhode Island Wrongful Death Statute, also referred to as the Death by Wrongful Act (Law § 10-7-1, et. Seq). There are different sections within the Wrongful Death Act in Rhode Island detailing the following aspects: the types of damages recoverable, by whom the damages are recoverable, who…

Read More

What is the Timeline for a Personal Injury Suit?

April 24, 2018

“It depends.” This is a typical response given by a lawyer in response to any question, but there are good reasons for it. For example, when determining how long you have to file a lawsuit, such as a personal injury case, facts matter. Little details, some known to a client and many unknown, can affect…

Read More

Contact form