MITCHELL LATTOF | September 16, 2020 | News
The family of a Mobile medical student filed a wrongful death lawsuit against an Alabama neurosurgeon, who allegedly caused her death.
Samantha Alison Thomas was 24-years-old when she died in an automobile accident on August 1, 2020. She was a medical student at the USA College of Medicine. The driver of the vehicle was 36-year-old Jonathan Nakhla, a neurosurgeon with Mobile Infirmary.
According to court records, the crash occurred at about 12:41 on Saturday morning on the West Interstate 65 Service Road in Mobile. Nakhla was driving an Audi R8 Spyder, which is a high-performance convertible. He was allegedly traveling 138 mph in a 45-mph zone.
The doctor lost control of the vehicle when another vehicle turned in front of him. The doctor’s vehicle struck a guardrail in front of the Econo Lodge. The car rolled six times before landing upside down after hitting a light pole.
Samantha Thomas was pronounced dead at the accident scene. Nakhla was taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that Nakhla was negligent in causing the death of Samantha Thomas. The lawsuit lists numerous accusations of negligence including:
- Failing to keep a proper lookout
- Failing to maintain control of the vehicle
- Driving at excessive speeds
- Alcohol use
- Reckless and careless behavior
- Operating the vehicle without due care
The lawsuit also alleges that Nakhla became intoxicated after consuming alcohol. He then boasted that he could avoid responsibility for driving in violation of the law because he had a physician card issued by the police department.
Criminal Charges Pending Against the Doctor for the Crash
In addition to facing a wrongful death lawsuit, Nakhla is also facing criminal charges of manslaughter related to the car crash. In a recent court hearing, the judge determined that there was probable cause to send the case to the grand jury.
At the hearing, a traffic homicide investigator testified that the doctor and the victim had been seen drinking by the pool before the crash. Nakhla told the investigator that he and Thomas left the apartment complex to get ice cream.
Prosecutors allege that the vehicle data recorder shows that the vehicle was traveling at 138 mph when the accident occurred. They also allege that Nakhla’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was above the legal limit at the time of the crash. However, the final toxicology results are pending.
First responders also recalled that Nakhla did not appear sad that Thomas had died. They said that Nakhla made comments about his vehicle and expensive watch. They testified that the doctor made a call while inside the ambulance and was heard saying, “I know, baby, you loved that car.”
What is Considered Wrongful Death in Alabama?
Wrongful death occurs when someone dies because of the negligent or wrongful acts of another person. A wrongful death can occur because of an accident, error, or intentional act. Some common incidents that can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit include, but are not limited to:
- Car accidents
- Slips and falls
- Dog attacks
- Bicycle accidents
- Defective medical devices
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Nursing home abuse
- Workplace accidents
Under Alabama wrongful death laws, the personal representative for the probate estate can file a wrongful death action. The compensation received from a wrongful death lawsuit is held in the estate and distributed to the heirs.
The amount of compensation awarded for wrongful death claims in Alabama is directly related to the defendant’s actions. Therefore, the more negligent, careless, or reckless the behavior of the defendant, the higher the award for the family.
Deadlines for Filing Wrongful Death Claims in Alabama
As with other civil claims for injury and damages, there are time limits for filing wrongful death lawsuits. The Statute of Limitations or deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years. If a lawsuit is not filed within two years from the date the person died, the family loses the right to seek compensation through the courts.
There could be exceptions to the deadlines for filing claims for wrongful death. For example, if the claim involves a government entity, a notice of claim must be filed with the government entity to preserve the right to file a lawsuit. In most cases, the deadline to file a notice of claim is just a few months after the person’s death.
Therefore, it is in the family’s best interest to talk with a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer explains the laws governing wrongful death claims in Alabama. The lawyer also discusses the options for holding the person who caused your loved one’s death liable for his or her actions.