Along with others in our region, our Panama City wrongful death law firm is saddened by the tragic death of twenty-five year old Sean Philbrook. According to The News Herald, the Panama City Beach man was working as part of a beach trash collection team in the vicinity of the Twin Palms Condominiums on Monday, July 9. He was working on a trailer that was being pulled by a 2009 John Deere Tractor. At approximately 7 P.M., Philbrook lost his footing as he attempted to step from the front portion of the trailer to the right side of the platform. He fell, landing on his back in the sand and the tractor operator continued as the vehicle's right rear tires struck Philbrook. He was pronounced dead after being taken to Bay Medical Center.
Witnesses to the incident reported that the tractor was moving slowly, at around 4 miles per hour. Although the weight of the tractor has not yet been determined, Michael Bates, a spokesperson from the medical examiner's office, told reporters that it would not take much weight to cause the fatality. Bates said that sand does not give as much as people might imagine, noting that it is really just compacted glass. The company that provides trash pickup services on the beach is Adris Pender of Coastal Parasail Inc. Representatives of the organization, a private company that is funded by the Tourist Development Center, said that they do provide safety training to their employees but did not provide additional detail.
Investigation into Monday's incident is ongoing and we cannot comment on the legal ramifications of this specific case. However, it is important that families know that Florida law does provide civil remedies in cases of wrongful death. Section 768.18 of the Florida Statutes defines the survivors entitled to bring a wrongful death suit. This is usually the deceased's spouse, children, or parents, but can also include other relatives who depended on the deceased for support. Wrongful death claims are brought in civil court can proceed regardless of whether a criminal charge has been brought.
A range of damages are available in a wrongful death case. This includes the direct financial losses related to the incident such as medical bills and funeral expenses. Survivors may also be intended to damages reflecting the loss of the victim's wages and other contributions to the family such as the value of child care and household services. Damages can also be awarded for non-financial losses including loss of companionship and emotional grief.
If you believe a loved one's death was the result of negligence or other wrongful acts, please contact our legal team. We offer a free consultation to determine if a Panama City wrongful death lawsuit is appropriate. In most cases, we operate on a contingency fee basis so you only pay attorney's fees if we help you recover compensation for your loss.
We also encourage people to seek support in dealing with the grief that may follow an unexpected death. Counseling and support groups can help families move forward after tragedy.