Car accidents are always a real source of concern for drivers and pedestrians because they are so common, yet produce serious or fatal results. A pedestrian in the Boynton Beach area of Palm Beach County had his life changed after a catastrophic hit and run accident that required a long period of hospitalization.
Man critically injured in hit and run near West Palm Beach
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has filed criminal charges in connection with a serious hit and run accident that occurred in Boynton Beach a few months earlier. Police believe the victim was attempting to cross the street at approximately 2:30 am when the accident happened. The suspect claims that the victim ran out in front of her 2014 Nissan Altima on Boynton Beach Boulevard westbound, while the victim insists that he never saw the car coming. The suspect’s car broke down a few blocks away, but she never contacted the police or checked on the victim before driving away.
In Florida, it is a crime to leave the scene of a car accident without stopping to make contact with the other parties involved or notify the police. A warrant was issued for her arrest approximately three months later and she turned herself in to Palm Beach County Jail. She was also charged with tampering with evidence for attempting to hide the car in a storage facility, in addition to leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury.
The victim sustained a neck fracture, broken bones in his back, and brain bleeding while he stayed in the hospital for a month after the incident.
Car accidents that result in criminal liability
Even though this situation resulted in criminal charges being filed against the suspect, many car accidents do not. Whether these charges are filed or whether the suspect is convicted does not matter from a legal standpoint when a plaintiff tries to file a civil case. It is still possible to file a civil lawsuit which has the important benefit of allowing victims to be paid for their medical expenses, hospitalization, missed time from work and lost wages, and emotional pain or trauma tied to the incident. In cases like the story above that involve serious injuries, these amounts can be significant.
Who will be at fault?
While it may seem that the criminal charges prove that the driver was at fault and the pedestrian was not, this issue is not totally cut and dry in a civil lawsuit. The criminal charges may become part of the evidence used in a civil trial, but they cannot result in any legal conclusions. Florida, like many other states, allows fault to be divided between all parties involved in an accident under a doctrine called comparative negligence. The pedestrian may still be found to be partially at fault even though he was considered the victim in the criminal case. This will not prevent him from filing a lawsuit, but it can reduce the amount of damages he is awarded if the jury believes he was partially to blame for the accident by crossing the street in the middle of the night. Experienced hit and run attorneys deal with comparative negligence all the time and they can explain how this may affect your case.
How are damages calculated?
In any negligence lawsuit following a car accident, the most important element is proof of damages to the victim. This is just a legal term for the injuries they sustained and the amount of money spent on things like medical treatment.
Florida has its own laws regarding how damages are calculated in a civil car accident lawsuit, but the general principles are the same anywhere in the nation. There are two types of damages in tort law. These are economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are related to the amount the plaintiff can prove they have lost due to things like lost money from missing work, medical bills for treatment, expenses from emergency services and a hospital stay, and continued physical therapy or medications that may be required under the supervision of a doctor. Non-economic damages can offer more room for a lawyer to make a convincing argument. They can attempt to put a value on a person’s pain and suffering after they have had to endure emotional and mental trauma from the accident, along with any long-term effects this may have on their psychological health.
These two types of damages can be awarded together through a settlement or jury verdict, but they can vary greatly based on the severity of each accident.
Talk to a car accident expert in your area
To receive help after an automobile accident or any kind of personal injury case in the West Palm Beach area, contact Smith and Vanture. They help injured clients throughout the state of Florida win judgments against the person or business responsible for their injuries.