A vacationing Lebanese surgeon will not return to his friends and family back home after he was struck and killed by a passing large truck on a local freeway.
Florida Highway Patrol officer state that 36-year-old Dr. Nicholas Ibrahim and a friend – 37-year-old Abdul Aziz Al Enezi, of Kuwait – were changing drivers on the shoulder of the Florida Turnpike shortly after dark. They had been crisscrossing the country on an extended working vacation, which was also their first trip to the United States. Just as Dr. Ibrahim was about to step out of the car, a large commercial truck smashed into the left side of the vehicle, killing him almost instantly.
According to friends and colleagues, Dr. Ibrahim was a prominent cosmetic surgeon who attracted patients from across the Middle East. He often performed reconstructive surgeries at little or no cost, because according to Mireille Alhajj, of Longwood, he just wanted to “put a smile on people’s faces.”
Respondeat Superior and Third Party Liability
Employer liability is often important in wrongful death cases, because the plaintiffs’ damages typically exceed the tortfeasors’ (negligent drivers’) insurance coverage. Respondeat superior is probably the most common of these theories, because it is relatively easy for jurors to understand, and relatively easy to prove as well.
Most people are familiar with the old saying that the captain is responsible for the conduct of a ship’s crew. Respondeat superior (Latin for “let the master answer”) echoes that idea, because employers are responsible for the acts of their employees.
For this theory to apply, the tortfeasor must be an employee. Most people think of employees as nine-to-five workers who get regular paychecks. But in negligence cases, the definition is much broader. Many courts use some variation of the Department of Labor’s definition of “employ,” which is “suffer or permit to work.” In other words, almost anyone who confers a benefit on an employer is an employee. Note that this definition usually even applies to volunteers and other unpaid workers.
The employee must be acting within the course and scope of employment at the time of the large truck or other crash. In a similar way to “employee,” this phrase is defined very broadly. As a general rule, any employee who confers a benefit on the employer, no matter how slight, is acting within the course and scope of employment. Employees who steal company cars from the parking lot are outside this definition, as are commuting workers, but everything else may be sufficient to trigger respondeat superior.
Other types of employer liability include negligent entrustment and negligent hiring or supervision. These theories are often available in the unlikely event that respondeat superior does not apply. Negligent entrustment doesn’t have an “employee” element, and negligent hiring or supervision applies only if the tortfeasor was outside of the course and scope of employment.
In all these cases, if the victim sustained a serious injury, damages may include fair compensation for both economic losses, such as physical rehabilitation costs, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Punitive damages may also be available, in some instances.
Partner with Experienced Attorneys
The tortfeasor is not always the only party responsible for the plaintiff’s damages. For a free consultation with a zealous personal injury lawyer, contact Reed & Reed. From our office in Brandon, Reed & Reed helps clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.