After a car accident in Delaware caused by another driver, it is essential to learn more about your options for seeking financial compensation. Delaware is a tort state, or a “fault” state, for auto accident purposes, which means that an injured motorist can file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver in order to seek damages. At the same time, Delaware law requires motorists to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which results in most people injured in car accidents initiating the claims process by filing a PIP claim through their own insurer. Depending upon the circumstances, the injured person could also potentially file a third-party auto insurance claim through the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. When an insurance payout is insufficient to cover losses, the injured motorist will usually file a car accident lawsuit.
How could these steps be impacted by the injured motorist’s own negligence? In other words, can your own partial fault affect your ability to recover? Our Delaware car accident lawyers can tell you more.
PIP Coverage is Not Impacted by Your Own Negligence
Many injured motorists in Delaware car accidents will initially file a claim through their own personal injury protection coverage. While Delaware is a tort state, Delaware auto insurance law does require motorists to carry PIP coverage as we noted above, which is a no-fault insurance. Accordingly, although Delaware is a fault state that allows injured motorists to sue at-fault drivers, it requires motorists to carry no-fault coverage for physical injuries. As no-fault coverage, PIP insurance coverage is not affected by the motorist’s own negligence or fault. Even if the injured motorist is partially to blame for the collision or its severity, PIP coverage can pay for medical bills and other expenses.
How Your Negligence Could Affect a Payout in a Third-Party Insurance Claim
In a third-party claim—when you file a claim through the at-fault driver’s own liability insurance—your partial fault could result in the at-fault driver’s insurance refusing to pay. When you are filing a third-party claim, you should be sure to have help from a lawyer who can prove that you are entitled to a payment.
Understanding Comparative Negligence in a Delaware Car Accident Lawsuit
What will happen if you sue the at-fault driver and that driver says you are partially to blame? Delaware’s comparative negligence law follows a “modified” rule, which says that a plaintiff can recover as long as the plaintiff is not more at fault than the defendant (i.e., 51% or more at fault). As long as the injured plaintiff is 50% or less at fault, the plaintiff can recover damages, but the damages award will be diminished proportionately with the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. Once a plaintiff is 51% or more at fault, the plaintiff is barred from recovery.
When a defendant raises the issue of comparative negligence, you should know that your lawyer can work to prove that you do not bear responsibility for the accident and should receive the full amount of your damages award.
Contact a Delaware Car Accident Lawyer
Do you need assistance with your Delaware car accident claim? Whether you need assistance seeking compensation or have questions about comparative negligence, one of our Delaware car accident attorneys can assist you. We have years of experience representing injury victims in motor vehicle accident claims and can begin working with you on your case. Contact Freibott Law online today or call us in Wilmington: (302) 633-9000.