Delaware Comparative Negligence Laws
When you are involved in an accident, it is important to determine how the accident occurred and who is liable for damages arising from that accident. You may be entitled to receive compensation for your damages, including lost wages, medical expenses, property damage, pain, and suffering, but you must prove that another party caused the accident that resulted in your injuries. If you cannot prove another party caused the accident, you cannot recover compensation from that party or the party’s insurance company.
Therefore, proving liability is a key element in any personal injury claim in Delaware. However, proving the level of fault is also a factor in Delaware personal injury claims. Furthermore, it is important to identify all parties who may be liable for damages in an accident because the law may require the parties to pay different percentages of damages under Delaware’s comparative negligence law.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Negligence is when a person or company does something that causes another person to be injured. For example, if a person is texting while driving and causes an accident, that person is negligent. The driver failed to take the proper care required to operate the vehicle in a safe manner; therefore, the law considers the driver to be negligent in causing the car crash.
However, in a personal injury accident, more than one party may be negligent in causing the accident. For instance, if you were speeding through a red light at the time that the other driver crashed into you because he was texting, you could also be found negligent for speeding. The law may find that if you had not been speeding, you might have been able to stop before the collision. Therefore, you “contributed” in causing the crash.
In the above scenario, you and the other driver were both negligent. The legal theory of comparative negligence compares each action to determine the percentage of fault. You may be assigned 10 percent of the fault for causing the crash while the other driver may be assigned 90 percent of the fault. Comparative negligence is very important in Delaware car crashes because it can lower the amount of money you receive for your injuries.
What is Delaware’s Comparative Negligence Law?
Delaware has adopted what we call a modified comparative negligence standard. The law states that you can be compensated for injuries from an accident even if you were partly to blame for causing the accident. However, you cannot be more than 50 percent at fault to receive compensation from the other party. If you are 51 percent at fault, you cannot recover any compensation from another party.
Delaware’s comparative negligence standard reduces the amount of compensation you can receive for your injuries by the percentage of fault assigned to you for causing the accident. Using the above example, you were assigned 10 percent of the fault for causing the accident because you were speeding. Therefore, if your total damages equal $100,000, your recovery is reduced by 10 percent (your fault) so that you only receive $90,000 from the other driver.
Parties often use comparative negligence to reduce their liability for an accident. It is important that you take steps to protect your right to recover compensation for 100 percent of your damages in a car accident claim.