After a car accident, most people suffer from property damage and minor to serious injuries. In rare instances, however, car accidents can result in fatal injuries. If your loved one is in a car accident that isn’t their fault, and they are killed as a result, you and your family have legal actions.
At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys have the skills and experienced necessary to hold the at-fault driver accountable for their actions. We know how difficult this time can be for you and your family, and we want to help you begin to put your life back together (at least financially).
Give us a call at 800-916-8108 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
How Common Are Fatal Car Accidents in West Palm Beach?
In 2017, there were a total of 402,385 car accidents throughout Florida. Of those, there were 2,924 fatal crashes, resulting in 3,116 fatalities. In Palm Beach County, the home of West Palm Beach, there were a total of 27,273 accidents. These wrecks resulted in 162 deaths, a decrease of over 10 percent from 2016, and 15,912 injuries, almost 4 percent less than 2016.
Five of the fatalities in Palm Beach county were caused by accidents that involved alcohol, while two involved drugs. In addition, five fatalities involved both drugs and alcohol. In addition to car accidents, there were 29 motorcycle fatalities, 38 pedestrian fatalities, 6 bicyclist fatalities and one other non-motorist fatality.
Proving Negligence in a Fatal West Palm Beach Car Accident
If you are involved in any kind of accident in West Palm Beach, it will most likely be the result of negligence. Negligence is a legal concept that applies when a person acts in a way that a reasonable person wouldn’t, and therefore causes injury or death.
In order to prove negligence, you must show that four criteria were met. These include:
1. Duty of Care: Every driver on the road has a duty of care to not cause harm to others with whom they are sharing the road. That means obeying traffic control devices, following road laws, and taking reasonable steps to avoid accidents.
2. Breach of Duty of Care: If a driver fails to take all reasonable steps to avoid an accident, and they cause a wreck, they have breached their duty of care. However, if the accident was caused by an unforeseeable incident, such as a sudden medical emergency that impairs a person’s ability to drive, that driver may not be held liable for the wreck.
3: Injuries Directly Caused by the Wreck: In order to seek compensation, you must show that the car accident directly caused your loved one’s fatal injuries. For example, if your loved one was in a wreck but had an unrelated fatal heart attack, the other driver probably couldn’t be held liable.
4: There are real, compensable damages: This is generally the easiest element to prove in this case. You must show that you suffered real losses that can be compensated by a judge. Damages that fall into this category are described below.
Damages Available After a Fatal Car Accident in West Palm Beach
If your loved one was killed in a wreck, our car accident attorneys in West Palm Beach can help you and your family get the compensation you deserve. Under Florida law, in order to seek compensation, you must be:
- The spouse, child or parent of the decedent (deceased person), or
- Any blood relative or adoptive family member who is “partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services.”
Family members can seek compensation for:
- Funeral and medical expenses paid for by the surviving family members
- The value of support and services provided by the decedent
- The loss of companionship, protection and guidance provided by the decedent
- Mental and emotional pain if you lost your child in a wreck
In some instances, the decedent’s estate can seek compensation as well. If these damages are assessed, they are awarded directly to the decedent’s estate. These damages may include:
- Lost wages and benefits, including the value of lost earnings that the decedent would have reasonably been expected to earn in their life
- Lost “prospective net accumulations” of the estate, which is the value the estate could have reasonably earned if the decedent hadn’t died
- Funeral and medical expenses that the estate paid directly
Speak to a Car Accident Attorney in West Palm Beach Today
If your loved one is killed in a car wreck, you have legal options. At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve. Give us a call at 800-916-8108 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.