Dover, DEThe Delaware Civil Code imposes various forms of liability for owners and renters of motor vehicles if they are found to be negligent. There are also insurance requirements outlined in this section of the state’s statutes. One of the most important details contained in this law is the standard regarding whether an accident victim who is partially at fault for an accident will be able to receive any financial remedy. 

Anyone who is planning on bringing an accident case should have a basic understanding of the state’s negligence law, because it can be the difference between being able to prevail in a lawsuit, versus receiving nothing. As with any important legal decision, it is best to formally speak with a lawyer about these matters before deciding on a course of action. 

State negligence laws

In all negligence cases, the elements of the cause of action must be established before deciding in the issue of fault. In Delaware, these are a standard of care, a breach of the relevant duty of care, actual and proximate causation of the collision, and damages. 

Delaware’s negligence doctrine is slightly different than any other state. A plaintiff can collect from a defendant as long as the defendant is found to have met all four elements of negligence. However, if there is any contributory negligence attributed to the plaintiff, it cannot be greater than the defendant’s level of fault. If the plaintiff’s contributory negligence is greater than the defendant’s, then they cannot collect anything. 

When there is some level of contributory negligence on the plaintiff’s behalf, but not enough to bar recovery, their damage award will be reduced proportionally to their level of fault. 

Delaware and other states used to have a strict doctrine of contributory negligence where any fault at all by the plaintiff would eliminate the possibility of a lawsuit. This doctrine has been abolished and replaced with more lenient negligence laws almost everywhere in the country. This was done to give accident victims a chance to seek a remedy for their financial losses.

How is fault determined?

There will usually be a factual inquiry based on evidence related to the accident to determine fault. This can include testimony from witnesses, introduction of evidence from reports made at the scene by police, pictures, and anything else that recorded the accident.

Some cases may be settled before a jury is allowed to weigh the evidence and make a decision. This is done to avoid the possibility of losses related to litigation costs and wasted time. 

Learning more about lawsuits from a local lawyer contains listings of lawyers by state and practice area. Anyone who has been involved in an accident in Dover or anywhere else in Delaware can use the site to locate a legal professional who matches their needs.