If You Have Been Injured in a Car Accident, You Need a West Palm Beach Car Accident Attorney
The West Palm Beach intersection of Okeechobee and North Military Trail has had, in recent years, the dubious distinction as being one of the most dangerous intersections in all of Palm Beach County. With cars having to make their way through the more than two dozen through and turn lanes at that crossroad, there are usually well over a hundred accidents at that intersection each year. In fact, it's often found to be one of the deadliest stretches of road in all of Florida. But it doesn't matter if your accident occurred there, or if some lost tourist hit you near the airport, or if your accident happened on some quiet residential street in El Cid.
What does matter are the steps you take after it has happened.
No one plans on being seriously injured in a car accident. And the accident itself is only the beginning of the pain that you may be going through.
First, there's the immediate pain of your injuries and the treatment. Next, there is the stress and strain of recovery. Then, as you're trying to regain some sense of normalcy—that's when the medical bills and everything else start showing up. And normalcy seems nowhere in reach.
It's understandable if you feel overwhelmed and alone, but you don't have to be. The lawyers of Bottari & Doyle, P.A. are here to fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve.
Florida's “No-Fault” Insurance Law Does Not Prevent You From Suing the Responsible Driver
Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to car accidents: According to state law, motorists must carry at least $10,000 in “personal injury protection” insurance coverage. If an accident does occur, the insured motorist's insurer pays for the damage, regardless of who is responsible for the collision. Because of this, many people believe they can't sue the driver who is responsible for the accident. That's wrong.
You can sue the responsible parties, and the “No-fault” insurance law does not prevent you from doing that.
For example, you may be able to sue a driver for negligence—arguing that they failed to take due care while operating a motor vehicle, and that is what caused the crash and your resulting injuries.
And statistically speaking, negligence—that failure to exercise due care— probably is a cause of your accident. Studies suggest that driver distraction—when a driver is on their phone or texting, when they're eating, changing the radio, and so on—may cause between 25-50% of car accidents. In 2019, Palm Beach County had 2,509 distracted driving crashes, the fifth-highest rate in all of Florida. Of these, 134 resulted in serious injuries, and three were fatal.
The negligence argument is particularly forceful if the other driver was “driving under the influence” of either alcohol or drugs (DUI) at the time of the accident.
Under Florida's “dangerous instrumentality rule,” a car is considered a dangerous tool capable of inflicting great harm. Therefore, if someone was drunk when they got behind the wheel, that driver knowingly put others at risk and must bear the consequences of their actions.
You May Be Entitled to Compensation for Your Injuries in West Palm Beach
As a victim of a car accident, you may be entitled to compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are intended to repay you for any losses you have suffered as a result of your injuries, and they fall into two categories.
First, there are “economic damages,” which are meant to reimburse you for any money you have lost due to your accident. These should replace a loss of income if you were not able to work, but they can also reimburse you for hospital stays, doctors' bills, prescription drugs, and other expenses. Importantly, economic damages include both future earnings (e.g., if your injuries will require you to take an earlier retirement) and anticipated expenses (such as long-term physical therapy).
The second category of compensatory damages is “non-economic damages.” Generally speaking, non-economic damages compensate you for the impact of your injury that goes beyond what you've financially lost. Non-economic damages include those relating to the physical suffering and the psychological trauma you have gone through during and since your accident.
Non-economic damages cover how the accident and your injuries impact your life in ways that are harder to quantify than adding up a pile of medical bills. They are to repay you for the pain and the fear you've been feeling—the evenings you couldn't stroll down Clematis Street or the days you couldn't spend with your family at the Aquarium because you were in too much agony to go out.
However, in the case of car accidents, Florida limits the availability of non-economic damages. They are only available if at least one of these apply:
- You've had significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- You have significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- Within a reasonable degree of medical probability, you have a permanent injury that goes beyond scarring or disfigurement.
- The injured party died as a result of the accident.
Additionally, Florida law does allow you to receive punitive damages. Unlike the other awards intended to make you whole, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer. While punitive damages are rarely awarded, it is possible to receive them if circumstances warrant them.
As Personal Injury Lawyers, We Represent a Broad Range of West Palm Beach Residents.
At Bottari & Doyle, P.A., we focus on personal injury law, particularly when it comes to car accident injury compensation. We also know how much this case matters to you and your life. You've been through enough already, and we're committed to making the legal process as painless as possible while getting you the compensation you deserve.
We have represented thousands of Floridians in personal injury lawsuits and injury-related insurance claims. The types of cases we handle include:
- Car, bus, and truck accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Boating Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Animal Attacks/Dog Bites
- Slip and Falls
- Spinal Cord Injuries
Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Workplace Accidents
- Wrongful Death
With three West Palm Beach locations where we are available for consultation, we are here to help. Call today for a free consultation at 561-588-2781.