Personal Injury Lawyer Serving West Palm Beach
Several accidents in West Palm Beach, Florida, fall under personal injury law. Personal injury or tort law allows a victim to file a lawsuit or third-party insurance claim against the person whose actions hurt them. Doing this may require the expertise of a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer.
A personal injury attorney is someone who specializes in personal injury law. They help people who have been injured physically and/or psychologically seek compensation by rendering legal advice and representation. If someone else’s negligence or intentional action harms you, contact a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers immediately.What Type of Cases Do Personal Injury Lawyers Handle?
A personal injury lawyer handles the cases discussed below:Motor Vehicle Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, road traffic crashes are a leading cause of death in the United States for people aged 1–54. Motor vehicle crashes include car, bicycle, motorcycle, and truck accidents. These crashes happen when a negligent driver violates their duty of care by performing a negligent action.
Common examples of negligent actions are drunk driving, distracted driving, tailgating, running red lights, illegal lane changes, fatigue, etc. Florida practices the no-fault car accident system. This means that people involved in auto collisions will rely on their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage to pay for medical treatment.
However, you can file a lawsuit with a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer’s help if your injuries:
- Totals more than $10,000
- Are severe or catastrophic and results in a life-long disability
- Results in permanent scarring or disfigurement, or
- Results in death.
However, when an accident victim dies, the case goes from a personal injury claim to a wrongful death action. Here, the victim is not the plaintiff but their estate. The estate representative files the lawsuit, but the settlement goes to legal survivors.Premises Liability
Under Florida law, property owners must keep their premises safe for legal visitors. Legal visitors are those the owner permits on the property and do not include trespassers and intruders with criminal intent. If a person suffers injuries due to a dangerous and hazardous condition on the premises, the owner would be liable for damages.
Several cases fall under premises liability, including:
- Inadequate lighting
- Slip and fall accidents
- Harmful materials or chemicals
- Faulty wiring
- Negligent security
If you were lawfully on a property, such as a shopping center or your apartment complex, you could file a lawsuit if you suffered injuries because of the owner’s negligence. But first, contact our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation.Medical Malpractice/Error
A John Hopkins study estimated that more than 250,000 deaths happen yearly in the United States due to medical errors. This makes medical negligence the third leading cause of death in the United States. Doctors and other healthcare professionals must exercise the required “standard of care” when treating a patient.
If they fail to provide an acceptable standard of care, they will be liable for any damage that results from such negligence. Common examples of medical negligence cases handled by our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers include:
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
- Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
- Unnecessary surgery
- Surgical errors or wrong-site surgery
- Improper medication or dosage
- Poor follow-up or aftercare
- Premature discharge
- Disregarding or not taking appropriate patient history
Medical malpractice cases are incredibly complex and need extensive resources to build the evidence to win the case. Proving that the medical practitioner failed to exercise the standard of care is also challenging. Working with an attorney is well-advised if you want the best chance of maximum compensation.How Do You Prove Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?
Every personal injury case is rooted in negligence. For you to have a valid claim against the defendant, they must have behaved negligently. Beyond that, you need to prove the four elements of negligence.Duty of Care
The law infers a duty of care between certain people, with or without a fiduciary relationship. This duty exists between drivers and other road users, doctors and patients, property owners and visitors, and manufacturers and consumers. Therefore, our lawyers will show that the defendant owed you a duty of care which they failed to uphold.Breach
The second element you must show is a breach of the duty of care. A violation exists where the defendant failed to uphold the standard of care or exercise reasonable care. Note that what amounts to those two depends on the circumstances of each case. An example of a breached duty is a driver who drinks and drives and causes a car accident.Causation
Breaching the duty of care is not enough to obtain financial compensation in a personal injury case. You must show how the breach harmed you. For example, suppose you slipped and fell and fractured an arm on your way to the hospital after being involved in a fender bender.
You cannot claim the injury resulted from the minor car accident that happened. The best you can do is file a premises liability claim if a dangerous condition on a property you were visiting caused the slip and fall. Thus, your injuries must be traceable to your accident to seek compensation.Damages
Even if the breached duty caused your accident, you must have suffered damages (losses) to be eligible to potentially receive compensation. For example, suppose you bought a defective product, but you discovered the defect before it harmed you. You would not be able to file a defective product claim against the manufacturer.
Having the expertise of a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer on your side will help you identify and prove the four elements of negligence. Doing it by yourself can be challenging, so it is in your favor to have a lawyer involved in your case from the onset.Product Liability
The Florida Consumer Protection Act ensures that product manufacturers produce safe goods. However, manufacturers still release defective products despite government standards and regulations. Common examples of cases that result in product liability claims are:
- Defective design, making the product inherently dangerous. The defect could also be a missing safeguard.
- Failure to warn—inadequate instructions or safety warnings
- Product malfunctions
- Hidden defects/defective processes, e.g., toxic food.
If a defective product injures you, you have legal options. First, you can hold the company that designed, manufactured, or sold the dangerous product liable. Our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers can help you seek justice and a fair settlement (by appointment only).
Other cases handled by a personal injury attorney include:
- Train accidents
- Cruise ship accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Airplane accidents
- Sexual abuse
- Construction site accidents, etc.
Evidence is crucial to the success of a personal injury case. Without proof, the victim and their attorney engage in “he said, she said” arguments. However, our lawyers can establish fault with the proper evidence, and help you seek the compensation you deserve.
So, what evidence makes this happen?Police Reports
Following an accident and depending on the severity, you may need to file a police report. For example, in a car accident, Florida law mandates motorists to file a report if any person (passenger, driver, pedestrian, bicyclist, etc.) sustains injuries or dies. In addition, they must do this if any property (including a vehicle) is damaged, and the minimum amount for such damage is $500.
The police report is an excellent source of evidence as it contains:
- Events leading to the incident
- Witness statements
- The statement of the parties
- Photos and videos
- The official assessment and conclusion of the investigating officer
Photos and videos of the accident and injuries are crucial to an injury claim. However, note that the type of visuals depends on the type of personal injury case. For example, while a car accident victim needs photos and videos of the crash site, it is different in medical malpractice.
For the latter, the photos and videos can show how the victim was before they were, say, misdiagnosed and how the misdiagnosis affected their health. Thus, we advise you to speak with a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer to know the type of images and videos helpful to your claim.Witnesses
There are two types of witnesses in a personal injury case. They are eyewitnesses and expert witnesses. An eyewitness is someone who witnessed the accident leading to the injury. An expert witness is a specialist in a specific field, called upon to give an impartial opinion on the particular aspects of disputed matters that are within their expertise.
The facts of a case determine if you need an expert witness. Our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers will examine the case and decide whether to call an expert witness or not. Note that a witness must be credible and able to give an unbiased account of the event.What Compensation Is Available in a Personal Injury Case?
The primary reason most victims file a personal injury action is for compensation of their damages. It is not uncommon to find most people want to know the damages they stand to gain if they win. Below are the types of damages available to an injury victim.Economic Damages
Economic damages are tangible losses with a fixed dollar amount. They are easy to calculate and include:
- Medical bills (past, current, and future)
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation costs
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost business opportunity
Non-economic damages are non-monetary or intangible losses, meaning they have no fixed dollar amount. As a result, they can be difficult to calculate. West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers arrive at an estimated sum by selecting a number from one to ten and multiplying it with the amount for economic damages. Compensable non-economic damages are:
- Emotional distress/mental anguish
- Disability or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Physical impairment
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are not compensatory. Instead, courts award it to punish a defendant for gross, malicious, or egregious conduct. Also, punitive damages deter other people from committing the same act.
The amount of punitive damages depends on the severity of the injury and the gravity of the defendant’s conduct. However, there is a limit to the amount the plaintiff may ultimately win. Under Florida law, punitive damages are three times the compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever amount is higher.
The law further states that where the fact finder determines that the wrongful conduct was:
- Motivated solely by unreasonable financial gain; or
- Unreasonably dangerous in nature of the behavior, together with the high likelihood of injury resulting from the conduct, was known by the managing agent, director, officer, or another person responsible for making policy decisions on behalf of the defendant;
That they may award punitive damages not exceeding the greater of four times the compensatory damages or $2 million, whichever amount is higher.Who Is Liable in a Personal Injury Case?
Generally, the person responsible for the harm you suffered is the liable party. Now, the type of personal injury case determines the identity of the at-fault party. For example, the driver who sped through a red light at an intersection would be liable for injuries that result from this. Similarly, a doctor who misdiagnoses you would be responsible for paying you incurred damages.
However, there are instances where the party directly involved in the accident that harmed you may not be liable. For example, this happens when there is a third-party involvement. Situations such as this are typical in car accident cases.
Suppose a driver struck you only because they were trying to avoid colliding with a wrong-way driver. The latter would be the liable party. Personal injury cases are never straightforward, hence the need for a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer.The Doctrine of Comparative Negligence
A victim can be partially liable for the accident that led to their injury. For example, supplying your doctor with the wrong information about your health may result in a misdiagnosis. When a victim shares fault in the occurrence that led to their injury, Florida’s comparative negligence doctrine kicks in.
Under this law, a victim’s compensation is reduced by their fault percentage. For example, if you shared 20% fault in the occurrence, you would only be eligible to receive 80% of the settlement sum awarded. Of course, the defendant may try to apportion blame where there is none to reduce your compensation, but our lawyers can refute such assertions.Is There a Time Limit for Filing Personal Injury Claim?
Florida law gives injury victims four years to institute their claim. This applies to motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, and defective product cases. The time starts counting from the date of the accident or from when the victim discovered that the defective product caused the injury. For medical malpractice cases, the time limit is two years, but the law allows a four-year extension where the damage was not immediately discoverable.What Is Our Role?
Many people often wonder whether it is worth hiring a personal injury lawyer. However, there are several benefits to hiring an attorney, and we discuss some of them below.
- Legal Advice: A lawyer explains the legal process and provides an overview of your case. Afterward, we present several legal options to you and provide legal advice on the best course of action.
- Research: A lot goes into winning a personal injury case. As such, we will conduct extensive research and gather all the evidence necessary to help you with your claim.
- Negotiations: Most personal injury claims do not make it to trial. This mainly involves negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Our lawyers will sit in on these negotiations and only advise you to agree on a favorable settlement.
- Trial Representation: We represent you in court if you cannot agree with the insurance company and the case goes to trial. Here, we will present the case on your behalf, argue on facts and law, and submit the amount we think is fair and accurate as damages. Should the court not rule in your favor, we can appeal the decision.
Recovering from an injury and seeking compensation can be challenging, but you don’t have to stress if you hire experienced personal injury lawyers in West Palm Beach, Florida. At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, our legal experts have helped many injury victims successfully seek compensation from at-fault parties.
We will conduct an extensive investigation to gather helpful evidence while you focus on recovering. Our priority is to help you seek maximum compensation. Contact us today at (561) 800-8000 to book a free case review with one of our attorneys.