If you are seeking compensation in a personal injury case in Delaware, then it is important to understand the state laws regarding liability for an injury. Delaware Code Title 10 section 8132 is the statute that defines how liability is assigned in a personal injury case. Delaware follows what is known as “modified comparative negligence.” This means that even if you share some of the blame for what happened, you may still be able to recover compensation for your injuries, albeit a slightly lesser amount, depending on how much liability may be assigned to you.
In a personal injury case, damages will be awarded to the plaintiff if the defendant can be proven negligent in a way that harmed the plaintiff. If the plaintiff was also partly at fault, as long as their share of liability for what happened does not exceed 50 percent, they can still receive damages. The amount of the award will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff.
An example of how comparative negligence works is as follows:
Suppose you slip and fall outside a store and suffer head and neck injuries. In your suit against the owner of the property, the jury finds the owner liable for your injuries, but also finds circumstances that make you 20 percent responsible as well. The jury awards you a total sum of $20,000 to cover the cost of your medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The actual amount will be $16,000, or $20,000 minus 20 percent – your percentage of liability.
While not all personal injury cases make it to court, it is still important to understand the concept of comparative negligence. This is because when it comes to settling out of court, the defendant’s insurance company and their lawyers will almost certainly try to assign some of the blame to you in an effort to reduce the sum they have to pay.
Delaware law gives you two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in civil court seeking damages for your injuries. If you miss this deadline, it is highly unlikely the court will hear your case. The defendant will certainly file a motion asking the court to dismiss the case, and there are only very rare exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations.
It is advisable to seek experienced legal counsel when considering a personal injury lawsuit so that you do not miss important deadlines. The defendant will likely attempt to use comparative negligence to deny total responsibility for your injuries. A knowledgeable attorney will work to preserve your maximum award and minimize such deflection.
A slip and fall can happen to anyone at any time of year, leaving behind lasting injuries. Contact the dedicated Wilmington slip and fall lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. for assistance with your personal injury case. Our knowledge and experience can make the difference in recovering maximum compensation for your injuries. Call us today at 302-656-5445 or contact us online. We have convenient locations in Wilmington and Georgetown to serve clients throughout Delaware.