If You Have Been Seriously Injured in a Car Accident in West Palm Beach, Our Lawyers Can Help You Recover Your Losses
There are lots of reasons to live in West Palm Beach. From easy access to some of Florida’s best beaches to the broad range of job opportunities, West Palm Beach offers something for everyone regardless of their individual circumstances.
Unfortunately, West Palm Beach’s popularity also means that the area has a lot of traffic, and this means that auto accidents happen with regularity. From I-95 to the busy streets of downtown, and from thoroughfares such as Belvedere Road and Haverhill Road to the roads around the area’s world-famous golf courses, car accidents frequently occur throughout the West Palm Beach area.
West Palm Beach Car Accident Data
Out of all of Florida’s counties, Palm Beach County has one of the highest car accident rates statewide. According to the most-recent data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there are more than 70 accidents in West Palm Beach and the surrounding areas every single day. The FLHSMV’s data also indicate that:
- On average, there are more than 27,000 accidents per year in Palm Beach County.
- Each year, more than 175 people die in car accidents in Palm Beach County.
- More than half of all accidents in Palm Beach County result in non-life-threatening injuries.
- Drugs and alcohol play a role in more than 500 accidents per year in Palm Beach County.
- In addition to tens of thousands of car accidents, there are also thousands of motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian accidents in Palm Beach County each year.
- Each year, there are more than 3,000 collisions involving commercial vehicles in Palm Beach County, resulting in hundreds of serious and fatal injuries.
- Teen drivers and those under the age of 24 are to blame for approximately one quarter of all serious and fatal auto accidents in Palm Beach County.
While these statistics cover all of Palm Beach County, the majority of the accidents in the county occur within the city limits of West Palm Beach. However, regardless of where an accident occurs, the victims’ legal rights are the same, and drivers can be held legally accountable when they make mistakes that lead to significant, permanent or fatal injuries.
What Happens After a Car Accident in West Palm Beach?
If you have been involved in a car accident in West Palm Beach, there are some important steps you will need to take in order to protect your legal rights. Unfortunately, simply filing an insurance claim and waiting to receive payment is not enough. While the insurance companies have an obligation to handle all car accident claims in good faith, (i) they do not always do so; and, (ii) handling your claim in good faith does not mean helping you prove your right to compensation or the amount you are entitled to recover.
As a result, when dealing with the aftermath of a car accident, it is up to you to make sure you are fairly compensated. It is up to you to obtain the medical treatment you need, and it is up to you to hire an experienced attorney to represent you. Due to the complexities involved in filing an auto insurance claim in Florida (and the fact that you could be entitled to additional compensation outside of insurance), it is extremely important that you hire an experienced attorney to assert your legal rights on your behalf.
How Does Auto Insurance Work in a West Palm Beach Car Accident?
One of the first issues that many car accident victims in West Palm Beach face is the issue of seeking financial compensation beyond the limit of their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Due to Florida’s “no fault” insurance law, accident victims are limited to seeking PIP coverage unless they can prove that they have suffered a significant or permanent injury.
If you file an insurance claim on your own, you can expect the insurance companies to try to limit your recovery to PIP. In order to obtain liability-based coverage under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy (or under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) policy), you need to be able to prove two things. First, you must be able to prove that your injuries qualify you for liability-based compensation; and, second, you must be able to prove that the other driver was legally at fault in the collision.
Regardless of the type of insurance coverage that is available to you, securing just compensation requires a clear understanding of Florida law and the ability to deal with the insurance companies effectively. At Searcy Denney, our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers can use their experience to negotiate a fair settlement; and, if a fair settlement is not on the table, our lawyers will take your case to trial.
How Much Compensation Can You Recover?
Assuming the other driver was at fault in your accident, the amount of compensation you can recover is dependent upon the extent of your injuries. This will determine not only if you have a claim outside of PIP, but also how much PIP and liability-based compensation you are entitled to receive. Importantly, while PIP only covers medical expenses and lost wages, liability insurance covers all accident-related losses—including pain and suffering, post-traumatic stress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
It is also important to keep in mind that various third parties could potentially be liable for your injuries as well. Road defects, vehicle defects, negligent entrustment and various other issues can all potentially be to blame for serious and fatal car accidents. With these types of claims, the compensation that is available can often far exceed drivers’ auto insurance coverage, so pursuing these claims (if you have them) can be essential to fully recovering your accident-related losses.
About Car Accidents on I-95 and the Turnpike
I-95 and Florida’s Turnpike are two of the area’s most heavily traveled highways, which also makes them frequent spots for car accidents.
The stretch of I-95 that runs from Jacksonville to Miami has been previously cited as the “deadliest” road in the entire country. The 382-mile highway saw more fatal accidents per mile over a five-year period than any other road in the U.S., according to federal records.
To make matters worse, police have largely ignored large swaths of the highways, with traffic tickets falling dramatically as the number of crashes spikes. More than one-third of all crashes on I-95 from Florida to Maine happened in the Sunshine State over a recent five-year period, even though some 80% of the highway is outside of Florida.
The Turnpike also sees its fair share of accidents, as anyone who has been stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the toll road can attest. As on I-95, heavy traffic and high speeds can be a recipe for disaster.
There are a number of factors that can be blamed for the high rate of crashes on I-95 and the Turnpike, including the sheer volume of vehicles that hit these roads every day. That is not to mention driver error, fatigue, distracted driving, aggressive driving and getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
Then there are hazardous road conditions and severe weather, which makes driving more difficult even for the most cautious motorists.
Regardless of the cause of the crash, accidents on I-95 and the Turnpike often come with serious and even fatal injuries.
A person who is injured in a crash on either highway has the right to seek compensation from those responsible with the help of a West Palm Beach accident lawyer. That is often a negligent driver, but may also include his or her employer in some situations, as well as defective vehicle manufacturers and road crews that leave driving surfaces in dangerous condition.
If you have been injured in a collision on I-95 or the Turnpike, a West Palm Beach accident attorney at Searcy Denney can help. Our attorneys have a strong track record of helping people injured in accidents maximize their compensation from those responsible.
Teen Driving Accidents in West Palm Beach
Teen drivers pose a particular threat to everyone on the road in South Florida. That is because of their inexperience and some younger drivers’ willingness to take risks behind the wheel.
Teen drivers account for a relatively large share of all accidents across the country, despite the fact that they spend less time driving than people in other age groups, according to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The data show that 16-19 year old drivers are three times more likely than those 20 or older to be involved in a fatal crash, when broken down per mile driven.
Two out of every three teenagers killed in accidents are males, according to IIHS. In Florida, teen driver deaths recently jumped by 76% over a five-year period.
Accidents involving teen drivers happen in a number of different ways, but inexperience, distraction and recklessness are often to blame in these crashes. Although teens are less likely to get behind the wheel after drinking, IIHS data show that teen drivers are much more likely than adults to be involved in a crash when they do.
It is important to understand that kids do not get special treatment under Florida law when they are involved in accidents. A teen responsible for the collision can be held legally liable for any and all injuries caused, in addition to potential criminal charges.
A teen’s parents and other adults may also be liable for their child’s role in a crash, in some situations. The owner of a car who allows a teen driver to use the vehicle is potentially responsible for any accidents that happen under Florida’s “dangerous instrumentality” doctrine.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a teen driver or are the parent of a teen recently involved in a crash, it is vital that you consult a seasoned personal injury lawyer to understand your rights and options. A West Palm Beach car accident lawyer at Searcy Denney will assess your case and guide you through the legal process with experience and personal attention.
High Speed Collisions in West Palm Beach
Speed kills. Whether it is on a busy highway or a single-lane road, excessive speed often leads to accidents and injuries.
Speed is a factor in roughly one-third of all fatal traffic accidents across the country, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Exceeding speed limits makes it harder for even the most experienced drivers to react to traffic. When conditions are poor, excessive speed increases the risk posed by hazards and severe weather.
Anyone who is injured involving speeding drivers has the right to seek compensation from those responsible for the crash. The money damages in these cases are intended to fully compensate an injured person for the financial impact of the collision. A West Palm Beach accident attorney at Searcy Denney can help you maximize your claim.
A driver who causes an accident while speeding in Florida is likely to be considered negligent and legally liable for injuries that happen as a result. That means picking up the bill for any car or other property damage, as well as for medical bills, missed wages while an injured person recuperates and any long-term impact of the injuries on a person’s ability to earn an income. It also means facing a wrongful death lawsuit in the event that a person dies in a crash.
Florida law imposes a “duty of care” on drivers throughout the state to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner. Drivers are required to comply with speed limits and other traffic laws, and maintain appropriate speeds under the circumstances. When a person does not live up to this responsibility, he or she is considered negligent.
A speeding driver is likely to be on the hook, even if other factors contributed to the accident. Florida is a “comparative negligence” state, which means that liability can be broken down by proportionate fault. Because speed is so commonly involved in crashes, any West Palm Beach car accident attorney will tell you that a speeding driver can be expected to be considered at least partly to blame when an accident happens.
Pedestrian vs. Car Accidents in Downtown West Palm Beach
People often rely on their own two feet to get from Point A to Point B, especially in downtown West Palm Beach. That poses the threat of collisions with cars, especially during popular tourism months in which visitors flock to the area.
Unfortunately, pedestrian deaths are on the rise across the country. Fatal accidents involving pedestrians struck by cars increased by more than 50% over the last decade, according to AAA. Much of that increase came from accidents that occured after dark or in areas not designed for foot traffic.
Older cars and sport utility vehicles are a particular threat. SUVs are more likely than other cars to cause fatalities in accidents with pedestrians, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
In the tragic event that a person is killed after being struck by a car, his or her loved ones have the right to seek compensation from those responsible for the accident. That includes a negligent driver and his or her insurer, as well as the entity that designed and constructed the area where the crash took place, in certain situations.
Any West Palm Beach accident attorney will tell you that there is simply no amount of money that will help you replace a loved one or allow you to go back in time to stop a crash from happening. The compensation available in wrongful death cases can, however, help at least ease some of the financial burden that often comes with losing a spouse or family member.
Cyclists vs. Car Accidents in Downtown West Palm Beach
Bicycles are an increasingly popular way to get around in Florida, where the weather makes hitting the road on two wheels possible most of the year. Unfortunately, more cyclists means more accidents involving cyclists.
People on bicycles are at a particularly heightened risk of serious injury in the event of a collision with a car. That is because cyclists have very little physical protection between them, oncoming cars and the road.
Nearly 6,000 bicycle accidents were reported in Florida last year, resulting in 161 deaths statewide. The total number of accidents was down about 10% from the previous year – likely because of a decline in traffic during the pandemic – but bicycle accident deaths still rose slightly.
Whether it is in downtown West Palm Beach, on the sidewalks of Cityplace, or on the sidewalk along Flagler Drive, bicycles and cars collide for a number of different reasons. Many streets and roads are simply not equipped to safely handle bicycles and cars at the same time, even as bike lanes become increasingly more common.
In addition, car drivers are often simply not aware of bicycle traffic around them. Or drivers do not give bicyclists the proper space when passing. To add insult to injury, hit-and-run accidents are far too common in West Palm Beach, with drivers simply speeding off after colliding with bikes.
There are a number of basic precautions that bicyclists in downtown West Palm Beach can take to enhance their safety on the streets:
- Claim your space: Make sure motorists see you by riding off of the shoulder and far enough away from parked cars to avoid being clipped by an opening door.
- Turn with care: Use hand signals and yield to oncoming traffic when making left turns or simply stop and use pedestrian crosswalks to complete these turns.
- Make yourself visible: Use reflectors and flashing lights to make your bike seen and consider reflective vests and bright colors when riding at night.
- Merge cautiously: The trick when mixing with traffic or merging is once again to ensure you are seen. Comply with traffic signs and do not hug the shoulder when merging.
You should also understand that the risk of an accident is part of life on a bike. When crashes happen, seek medical attention and consult a seasoned West Palm Beach accident attorney.
Dangerous Intersections in West Palm Beach
Car accidents can happen at any time and in any place, even for the most experienced, attentive and cautious drivers. When crashes do occur, they can instantly change people’s lives forever.
There are certain stretches of road that regularly see more crashes than others in the area. Maybe it is because of the way that these roads are designed and constructed and the volume of traffic they see every day. Or, perhaps it is the negligence of local drivers.
These are the most dangerous intersections in West Palm Beach:
- Okeechobee Boulevard and Military Trial
- South Military Trail and Forest Hill Boulevard
- Jog Road and Forest Hill Boulevard
If you have been injured in a car accident at one of these intersections, a West Palm Beach accident attorney at Searcy Denney can help you get back on your feet with the full compensation available.
Do not go it alone: Insurance companies often look to rush lowball settlements or fight tooth and nail to limit payouts. They do this with a team of lawyers by their side. It is crucial that you have a seasoned attorney in your corner. Do not agree to a pay out from an insurer without consulting a lawyer first.
Time is often of the essence. The sooner that you seek the help of an attorney, the sooner the lawyer can start gathering evidence in support of your claim. That includes physical evidence from the scene of the crash, as well as records of other accidents at the intersection, witness statements, police reports and in some cases crash reconstruction evidence.
Speak with a West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer for Free
If you would like help recovering your losses after a serious car accident in West Palm Beach, we encourage you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. To discuss your accident in confidence as soon as possible, call 800-780-8607 or request an appointment online now.