O’Neil Jahlil Fields was killed in a car accident in West Palm Beach, Florida early this morning. According to news reports, O’Neil Jahlil Fields was in a Nissan which was stopped on I-95, possibly due to running out of gas, when it was rear ended by a Lexus.
The Lexus was allegedly driven by David Bohorquez, 44.
Since this case is still being investigated, there are number of discrepancies being reported in the news. Specifically, it is unclear whether another person, Kaylana Marie Wilson, age 17, was in O’Neil Jahlil Fields’ car or in David Bohorquez’s car.
In one report, Wilson was listed as the driver of Fields’ car. In another, she was listed as the passenger in Wilson’s car.
Regardless, she fortunately did not sustain any life threatening injuries.
Car accidents that involve death are very different from non-lethal accidents. Because the human and emotional loss is so great, these cases are taken extremely seriously by the attorneys involved.
However, before any car accident case can be won on behalf of the victims, injury lawyers must answer three main questions. They are:
1) Which party is responsible for the car accident?
2) What are the damages? In death cases, the damages are obvious and easy to prove.
3) Can a judgement or settlement be collected from the responsible party?
Since this case is a death case, injuries are easy to prove. For that reason, the success or failure of any potential litigation will hinge on whether the David Bohorquez was responsible for the car accident and whether or not he has sufficient insurance or other assets to compensate O’Neil Jahlil Fields’s family for their great loss.
Since I am writing this blog entry from my perspective as an injury lawyer, I can also tell you that this type of car accident is extremely common on Florida’s roadways.
Unfortunately, it is very common for rear-end collisions to occur when a driver is either following too closely, driving to fast, or simply not paying attention.
To determine who is at fault in this case, injury lawyers will need to conduct a thorough case investigation. This will include an exhaustive review of all available evidence, such as witness statements, crash reports, photographs, and possibly an accident reconstruction analysis by an expert.
No detail can be left to chance.
Normally, when one car rear-ends another, the driver who does the rear-ending is usually the one held responsible. In fact, under Florida law, the driver who does the rear-ending is automatically assumed to be responsible for the crash.
This rule exists because drivers are expected to drive at a safe distance from the car in front of them, they are expected to drive at a safe speed given the road conditions and traffic pattern, and they are expected to pay attention.
Even though this legal assumption exists, the law also permits a read-ending driver to challenge the assumption and present evidence of another intervening cause.
Another intervening cause can occur in a number of ways, but it is most common when the party who got rear-ended did something to cause the accident, such as cut off another driver by changing lanes in an irresponsible fashion.
In regards to O’Neil Jahlil Fields’ case, one factor injury lawyers should consider is the length of time his car was stopped in the roadway. Also, even though he may have run out of gas, did he have his hazard lights on?
Frankly, my suspicion as that David Bohorquez was simply not paying attention. Even if O’Neil Jahlil Fields was stopped in the middle of the road way, with no hazard lights on, and he was there for a long time, this car crash was likely avoidable by simply slowing down, braking in a timely fashion, or paying attention for road obstacles.
After all, the news is reporting that Fields’ car was stopped. For this reason, his vehicle was no different than road debris that all drivers have a duty to look out for. Had Fields’ driven his car in a manner that caused or contributed to the crash, then things would be different. However, the fact of the matter is that his car was stopped.
Moreover, if one’s vehicle runs out of gas in the middle of the roadway, what are you supposed to do?
This accident happened on I-95… its not like he could simply get out of his car and push it to safety.
Despite my suspicions, a thorough case analysis is required before any concrete conclusions can be drawn. At this point I can only discuss my mere suspicions.
Hopefully Fields’ family recover from their great loss and use his memories for something productive and good. I can’t even begin to imagine what they are going through right now. My condolences go out to them.