Deaths From Auto Accidents in Palm Beach

Car Accident There have been a large number of fatal car accidents in Palm Beach over the last few years. As a matter of fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that Florida constitutes the third highest state in the U.S. when it comes to fatal auto accidents. In general, there have been about 2,400 deaths that are traffic-related in the State of Florida.

Some of the most common causes of fatal car accidents include:

  • Intoxicated drivers

    About 20 percent of deadly car accidents involve a drunk driver

  • Reckless drivers

    Accidents happen due to unsafe lane changes, speeding, and tailgating

  • Distracted drivers

    Many accidents happen when drivers are using their phones, speaking with passengers, or eating

  • Defective vehicles

    If your car was poorly assembled, or built with a defective auto part, it could result in a deadly accident

  • Exhausted drivers

    People sometimes fall asleep at the wheel and cause a deadly wreck, and this is many times the case with overworked truck drivers

In current years, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department have reported an annual car accident statistic of approximately 200,000 recorded car accidents. This works out to an average of about 650 auto crashes each day. These unfortunate statistics highlight the fact that every Florida motorist should carefully adhere to state traffic regulations. This will help to avoid having to be accountable for auto accidents that can lead to personal injury or even deaths that result from driver negligence.

On the other side of the coin, a car accident may have resulted in the death of a victim who was not the one at fault. In this case, if the other motorist is declared reckless or negligent, there can be a criminal charge involved. In addition, compensation may be awarded in certain cases.

What Should You do Regarding a Death From an Auto Accident?

In 2012, the State of Florida reported a total of 2,250 fatal auto accidents. Among these fatalities, alcohol was either a direct or suspected factor. In a percentage of these cases, death was instantaneous or occurred shortly after the accident. However, there are also a number of cases in which the victim lingered on for a significant amount of time prior to expiring. These, of course, also fall under the heading of deaths from auto accidents in Palm Beach, for purposes of recording.

In any case, the loss of a loved one can be a devastating emotional and financial affair. If the fatal auto accident is the result of the other driver’s carelessness, then you may have the option to pursue a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. This is a decision that you will want to make as soon as possible. However, there are many legal considerations involved in the pursuit of this matter. Therefore, it is most likely that you will want to immediately seek the advice of a car accident wrongful death attorney in your Palm Beach location.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim and How Long do They Have?

In general, a wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit that can be filed when the contention is that the victim’s death is the result of the wrongful actions of another party. This falls under the Florida Wrongful Death Act: § 768.16 - 768.26. The personal representative of the deceased’s estate may file a wrongful death claim on behalf the following (§ 768.20):

  • Spouse of the deceased
  • Children of the deceased
  • Parents of the deceased
  • Adoptive siblings and blood relatives who are deemed to be “wholly” or “partly” dependent on the deceased.

The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is 2 years from the date of death Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(d). Therefore, it is of great importance that there is no delay when it comes to filing Florida wrongful death suits, as the result of deaths from auto accidents. A delay that goes past the statute of limitations may result in not being eligible when it comes to filing a claim for damages. However, it is also important to consult with a Florida Palm Beach auto fatality attorney, since the deadline may be extended (postponed or “tolled”), under certain circumstances. The attorney can assist you with your understanding of the actual statute of limitations in your particular case.

What Damages are Wrongful Death Claim Survivors Entitled to?

A wrongful death case is a civil claim. This means that it is brought to court by the deceased person's estate and not by the government. In essence, liability in a wrongful death claim is expressed solely in terms of money damages. Although a criminal case that is related to the death might also be filed in court, that case may address different concerns. (or the surviving family members).

According to Florida’s wrongful death statute § 768.16 - 768.21, the available damages, in a wrongful death civil case may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Parents may claim “pain and suffering”
  • Minor children may also claim “pain and suffering”, parental guidance, instruction and companionship.
  • Older children may claim the same damages as minor children if there is no surviving spouse.
  • The surviving spouse may claim “pain and suffering” and loss of protection and companionship.
  • Survivors may claim lost support and services to survivors (relationship to the deceased, probable future income of the deceased, and replacement value of lost support and services are considered in this case)

It should be noted that in cases where a child has been born to unmarried parents, the child may be eligible to recover damages from a wrongful death suit involving the death of the child’s mother. If the child’s father has died, wrongful death suit damages may be claimed in circumstances in which the father has formally recognized that the child was his own and contributed to the child’s support as his obligation.

Is the Estate Able to Claim Wrongful Death Damages, as Well?

In most cases, yes. There are also damages, arising from deaths from auto accidents in Palm Beach that can be claimed for the deceased’s estate. (§ 768.21). These include:

  • Medical expenses that were paid on the behalf or by the decedent
  • Funeral expenses that were paid on the behalf or by the decedent
  • Reasonable expectations regarding the loss of prospective estate net accumulations were it not for the wrongful death of the decedent (adjusted to present day money value)
  • Loss of estate earnings (from the date of the auto injury until the date of death) – less lost support of survivors excluding contributions in kind, with interest.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in the Case of Deaths From Auto Accidents

When filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Palm Beach, Florida, you will usually need to prove a situation involving negligence. This entails presenting evidence that the case defendant had a duty of care and subsequently breached that duty. It should be shown that the defendant’s action(s) have directly caused the death in question and that damages have been incurred as a result of that death.

An example of this may be a situation in which the defendant was in the process of manually texting on their cell phone when the crash occurred. Linking that action directly to the cause of the crash, and the subsequent death, will likely lead to having the texting driver held liable.

Another example would involve the use of drugs or alcohol as a factor in the fatal car crash. According to Florida law, it is considered a criminal offense drive drugged or drunk. Therefore, a driver who is operating a vehicle while above the legal limit of blood alcohol content may be deemed negligent in a case involving wrongful death damages. However, in this particular case, your claim may only require you to show causation and damages – as opposed to duty and breach. This can occur once it’s proven that the defendant had broken the law.

Of course, there are cases in which the defendant states that the victim’s own actions had contributed to their injuries. This would not necessarily stop you from filing your claim. However, it may result in a situation where you would collect a lesser damages amount. This can be true, even in cases in which the victim is held largely responsible for the auto crash. Therefore, it is important to seek the advice of a Palm Beach Car Accident Personal Injury Attorney.

Insurance Company Death Benefits

Some car insurance policies have death benefits that are included in certain policies. Therefore, it is possible that an auto insurance policy, with death benefits, may cover costs of various expenses to include (but not limited to) funeral expenses. But it should be noted that a car insurance policy, with death benefits, will generally only pay when it has been determined that the death of the person covered was due to the car accident. In addition, a car insurance company might require that an autopsy be performed.

Since Florida is a no-fault state, the personal injury protection coverage (PIP), that is required for drivers, might automatically be included in the deceased’s car insurance policy. Therefore, if the deceased was killed by a driver who is deemed to be at fault, you may be to file a death benefits claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.

If the at-fault driver has insufficient insurance or no insurance at all, then you may be able to file a claim with the deceased’s uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. In cases of negligence, you may file a wrongful death suit with the advice of a car accident personal injury attorney. Keep in mind, though, when it comes to filing claims with a car insurance company, in some cases you may only receive death benefits for individuals who are listed on the car insurance declarations page.

The death benefits from an auto insurance company will generally cover expenses only up to a certain amount. Some expenses covered by auto insurance death benefits may include:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial expenses
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages

In order to determine what benefits that you are able to file for, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a car accident personal injury attorney.

In Florida, fatal car accidents and other serious motor vehicle accidents are investigated by the at fault driver’s insurance company almost immediately. Evidence that can help you prove your case often disappears quickly, and the memories of witnesses fade over time. Do not delay the important work of preserving the evidence in your case.

A major consideration, when it comes to dealing with an auto insurance company, is the fact that they are generally experts when it comes to minimizing claims and the amount of benefits are paid. Additionally, they will typically be working on your fatal auto accident investigation as soon as possible. This is why it is very important that you don’t sign any papers with the insurance company before you seek the advice of your attorney to provide counsel and someone that is looking out for your best interest.

Enlist a Palm Beach Injury Lawyer to Protect Your Rights

Deaths from auto accidents can be the result of a catastrophic car crash that can occur at any time. Understand that while high speeds are often a factor, there are also many times when this is not the case. There have been many times in which a particularly low speed car crash has resulted in an injury that has eventually caused a death. These injuries can include brain damage, burns and various internal injuries. Therefore, even in cases that involve a low speed car crash injury, it is wise to seek the advice of a car accident personal injury attorney.

All-in-all, it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney, in order to try to receive the best care and compensation that you rightfully deserve. Therefore, when you or a loved one are involved in a Palm Beach car accident, contact a Florida personal injury attorney.

In the case of the death of a loved one, discuss your case with a Car Accident Personal Injury Attorney Serving Palm Beach Today! Turn to Frankl & Kominsky for comprehensive legal guidance. Call (561) 800-8000 or use our Contact Form to set up a free consultation.

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