A Westchester General Hospital mental health technician was arrested and charged with entering a patient’s room on New Year’s Eve, forcing her to perform oral sex and then raping her.
While the technician is facing criminal charges, it is an open question whether the hospital may face vicarious civil liability under Florida law for the actions of its employee. The law allows injured patients to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering from an organization that is covered by insurance and has greater resources than the employee. However, this is not always clear cut. Vicarious liability applies only if the employee was acting within the course and scope of his employment. The employer usually may not be held liable for gross negligence or criminal acts.
It is important to have a qualified medical negligence lawyer on your side who can explore other possible theories of liability, such as negligent hiring or retention. Medical facilities are required to conduct thorough background checks to ensure that their patients are safe. If the employer hires someone with a dangerous criminal background and then the employee hurts a patient, the patient may try to bring a claim based on the concept of negligent hiring.
Additionally, employers are required to respond to information that the employee receives. For example, if the employee harms a patient and the employer fails to take action and then the employee injures another person, the employer may be held responsible for the resulting injuries due to the employer’s negligent retention of the employee. If the employer knows that the employee has a violent background, it may be foreseeable that the employee may injure a patient and pose a danger to patients, and the employer may be held civilly liable if the employee does in fact cause injury.
If you or a loved one was injured by an employee of a medical facility, a skilled attorney from the Law Office of Paul B. Genet, P.A. can investigate and determine if legal action may be initiated against the employer. Our Palm Harbor firm assists clients throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. Our founding attorney has fought to help victims recover compensation for more than 30 years. Contact us online or call us at 727-538-8865 to schedule a complimentary and confidential consultation.