Delaware Car Accident Laws & Resources
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When you get into a car accident, you may feel plenty of stress and anxiety. But when you understand the laws and regulations affecting car accidents, claims and lawsuits in Delaware, you’ll have a better grasp of how to move forward with your case.
This article details the most critical Delaware auto accident laws and regulations that you should know if you ever get into an auto accident in this state.
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Auto Insurance Requirements In Delaware
In Delaware and most states, you must have a certain amount of car insurance coverage. If you don’t have enough insurance, you can expect heavy fines or even serve jail time if you’re in a serious auto accident.
The minimum levels of insurance for car insurance in Delaware are:
- $15,000 for bodily injury per person
- $30,000 for bodily injury per person
- $10,000 in property damage coverage
Delaware has a tort system regarding fault. This means if you cause a car crash, you can be sued for economic and non-economic damages, as well as pain and suffering. If another person causes the accident, you can file a claim with your insurance, their insurance, or file a lawsuit if you do not receive the settlement you think you deserve.
There is no requirement in Delaware to carry underinsured or uninsured driver coverage. You also do not have to carry collision or comprehensive coverage. But if you have property and cash assets, you may want to have more coverage to shield yourself from heavy losses if you cause a serious accident.
Also, Delaware has a type of no-fault insurance known as PIP or personal injury protection. This pays for your medical costs, lost earnings, but not pain and suffering. But you can sue the person who caused the car accident for pain and suffering.
PIP insurance can pay your medical costs and lost wages for up to two years in the amount of $15,000 or less. There are insurance policies for PIP in this state that are sold with deductibles between $100 and $15,000.
It is recommended to carry more PIP insurance than the minimum in case the at-fault driver is underinsured or has no insurance. If the other driver has no insurance, you could be seriously injured and need to rely on your own policy to pay for your injuries.
Negligence Laws In Delaware
As of 1984, Delaware adopted a comparative negligence approach to negligence. This means that if you are partially responsible for the car accident, you will receive less compensation based on your degree of fault.
For example, if you have $100,000 in medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and were 25% responsible for the accident, you would only receive a $75,000 settlement.
Note that if you are 50% or more at fault in Delaware for your accident, you cannot receive any settlement funds for your injuries.
Because of this law, it is important for you to retain an attorney to represent you in front of the insurance company or court. Your personal injury attorney will fight for you to be found as little to blame for the accident as possible.
Almost any insurance company representing the at-fault driver will attempt to at least partially blame you for the accident, even if fault is clearly on the other driver. Your skilled attorney can avoid this.
You can find a skilled personal injury attorney by using our Attorney Search Tool at Lawsuit Info Center.
What To Do After A Car Accident In Delaware
If you are in a car accident, you need to remain at the scene or you could be charged with hit and run. You also need to offer assistance if anyone is seriously injured.
The next steps are to call 911 and to protect the crash scene as best you can. It’s helpful to set up flares or keep your car’s flashers on. Or, you can use a flashlight to tell people where you are as you wait for the police.
Next, get as much information down as you can about the crash while your memory is fresh. When the police arrive, tell them in detail what happened, but only stick to what you know for sure.
But you should not admit you were at fault, even if you think you are partially to blame. If the police ask if you are hurt, you should not say no; just say you’re unsure.
It’s possible for a minor injury to become worse after a day or two, so it’s best to have no opinion on this for now.
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You also should take as many pictures as you can with your cell phone, including the positions of the vehicles, vehicle damages, skid marks, and your injuries.
Next, talk to eye witnesses. You may not be able to find witnesses right away. But if you see anyone hanging around at the scene, you should talk to them and get their contact information. This information could be critical to determine fault in the crash.
The next thing to do is to get a copy of the police report from the responding officer. They should at least give you a police report number. If they don’t mention it, make sure you get one before they leave the scene. You can use the number later to get the police report about the car crash.
Also, call your insurance company as soon as you can to inform them about the accident. You usually need to report an accident right away or in a few days, at most.
It’s also critical to get medical help immediately. Whether you think you’re injured or not, you should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible after the car accident.
It is common for people to think they’re not injured after an accident. But when adrenaline hits you during a crash, you may not feel pain or discomfort immediately. That’s why you should always be checked out by a doctor.
If you don’t seek medical help after the accident, it’s possible that you could wake up the next day with a very painful back, neck, or other injury. The longer you wait to see a doctor, the more likely the other driver’s insurance company will argue that you were not injured in the accident.
The other thing to remember is that if you are hurt in an accident, it’s vital to follow your doctor’s treatment plan and attend all doctor appointments. If you fail to do these things, the insurance company will say that you weren’t really hurt and will try to deny your claim.
Auto Accident Statute Of Limitations In Delaware
Delaware has a statute of limitations to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit after an auto accident. You have only two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit, as well as two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Because the statute of limitations is so short, it’s important to retain a skilled car accident attorney as soon as you can to ensure that you have plenty of time to file a lawsuit if needed.
Delaware Driving And Accident Laws
There are other laws to be aware of if you are driving in the state or get in an accident:
- Delaware has a ban on all handheld electronic devices when you are driving. This law refers to cell phones, laptops, tablets, and PCs. You also are not allowed to write, read, or send text messages when you drive. You may receive a $105 fine for the first offense, and up to $350 for the next offense.
- Delaware has a keep right law that states you only can use the left lane to pass. You may be fined as much as $230 for breaking this law.
- Delaware also has aggressive driving laws, stating that aggressive driving includes an unsafe lane change, ignoring a red light, failure to stop, passing on the shoulder, speeding, and passing a school bus that has stopped. The initial fine is $100 to $300. Plus, you could have to pay for a driver education class.
- Drivers in Delaware are required in an accident involving injury or death to give their contact information to drivers and passengers involved in the crash. Also, you are required to render aid to anyone in the accident with reasonable assistance. This can include making plans to get the injured person to the emergency room.
- Drivers that are involved in auto accidents where any driver is drunk or impaired by drugs, or a crash involving death, injury, or property damage of $500 or more must contact the closest law enforcement office to report the incident.
Remember that it is almost always a good idea to file a police report for any accident. You may get into a situation where the other driver doesn’t want to get the police involved. But what happens if the other driver goes home and decides that he is in a lot of pain from the accident? It’s possible he could contact the police and say you hit his vehicle and took off!
It’s always wise to be cautious and file a police report for any accident so you are covered if something happens down the road.
Dram Shop Law in Delaware
This state has no Dram Shop Law. This law refers to the liability of social hosts, bars, hotels, and restaurants who serve alcohol to customers or minors for injuries that drunk patrons or minors cause to third parties in car crashes.
In this state, it is against the law to sell alcohol to a drunk person or minor, but the seller has no liability for that person’s actions.
Auto Accident Settlement Process In Delaware
All personal injury lawsuits must go through an alternative dispute resolution process before they can go to court. If both sides cannot agree on the format, the other option is mediation. If you reach a settlement during ADR, your arbitrator needs to tell the court within five days. YOu could reach a settlement in your auto accident case at any time before the jury renders a verdict.
Settlements in Delaware usually are lump sum or structured. Talk to your attorney about which is the best option for you.
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Delaware Auto Accident Settlement Taxes
If you receive a car accident settlement in this state, it’s important to understand the federal and state tax laws about settlements.
Usually, any funds that you get in a lawsuit or settlement for physical injuries, including medical costs and pain and suffering, cannot be taxed at the state or federal levels.
But if you have only mental anguish from your accident that isn’t related to a physical injury, you can be taxed in Delaware and by the federal government.
If you get punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant for reckless behavior, it will be taxed at the state and federal levels.
Also, if you take medical expense tax deductions, that part of your compensation will be taxed.
If you get pay for lost earnings, that also is taxable at both levels.
Get Legal Help For Your Auto Accident Case
Any auto accident is an upsetting experience, but it helps if you’re prepared. Now that you know more about the car accident and personal injury laws in Delaware, you will know what to do if an accident happens.
But most importantly, if you’re hurt in an auto accident in Delaware, make sure that you call law enforcement and receive medical assistance if you need it. If you don’t, you could have trouble filing a claim later because the insurance company will argue that your injuries weren’t caused by the accident.
Lawsuit Info Center can assist you in finding a skilled personal injury attorney in your region. You may be due compensation for your physical and emotional injuries. Use our site to find a Delaware auto accident lawyer today.
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