Putting Our Knowledge to the Test by Addressing Your Personal Injury Concerns
An injury in its own right can produce a lot of questions. Will you be okay? How long will it take to heal? How much will your recovery cost? No doubt as you pursue an injury claim, you’ll have even more concerns and questions. However, that’s where we come in. Come see how our extensive knowledge and dedication to helping our clients can help answer all of your legal questions…and then some.
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Can I recover damages if I wasn’t wearing a seat belt?
There's no question that seat belts are life-saving safety devices. In fact, seat belt use saved an estimated 14,668 lives in 2016 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Research has shown, time and time again, that wearing a seat belt is one of the most effective ways to prevent serious accident-related injuries and deaths.
After being injured in a crash caused by another person or entity's negligence, accident victims may be entitled to a wide range of economic and non-economic damages, including medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and more. However, accident victims who weren't wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash may be hesitant to pursue the compensation they're owed out of concern that their lack of seat belt use could be used as evidence of comparative or contributory negligence.
Fortunately, Chapter 21, § 4802 of the Delaware Code prohibits an accident victim's failure to wear a seat belt from being used as evidence for comparative and contributory negligence claims in any civil trial or insurance claim adjudication. As a result, accident victims are still eligible to seek and collect compensation for injuries and other losses—even if they weren't wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
Consult a Skilled Attorney About Your Car Accident Case
Consulting an experienced personal injury attorney can help you build a strong car accident insurance claim or lawsuit. Not only can a knowledgeable attorney help you understand your legal rights and options after a Delaware car accident, but they can also help you fight for the compensation you deserve and navigate each and every step of the personal injury legal process.
Contact the Morris James Personal Injury Group today to request a free initial case consultation. Our attorneys are happy to meet with you to discuss the details of your case.
What should I keep in my vehicle in case I'm in an accident?
Most people don't expect to be involved in an auto accident while going about their daily business, despite the fact that car crashes are far from rare. In fact, more than 37,000 people are killed—and an additional 2.35 million are injured—in auto accidents each year in the United States, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT).
Even if you don't think you'll actually be in an accident, it's important to be prepared—just in case disasters strikes. Keeping an accident preparedness kit in your car, truck, SUV or minivan helps ensure that you and your family have life-saving essentials on hand in the event of an emergency. Accident preparedness kits should include:
- First aid kit. The kit should be stocked with antiseptic, gauze, bandages, and other essentials.
- Auto escape tool. These tools allow trapped motorists to escape from submerged vehicles by slicing through locked seat belts and breaking the automotive glass with a specially designed hammer.
- Flashlight. Keep extra batteries with the flashlight or, to eliminate the need for batteries, choose a wind-up flashlight.
- Road flares or emergency triangles. Having an accident at night can be dangerous—for accident victims and other motorists. Setting these items up at the scene of the accident can help make it more visible to other motorists.
- List of emergency contacts. Keep a handwritten or typed list of emergency contacts in the glove box, so that they can be accessed, even if a smartphone is broken or has a dead battery.
- Blanket and towel. These items can help motorists stay warm after a cold-weather wreck or be soaked in water and used to put out an automotive fire.
- Fire extinguisher. Also essential for putting out automotive fires.
- Multi-tool. Pliers, screwdrivers, pocketknives, and other included tools may be useful in an emergency.
- Notepad and pen. These items are perfect for taking notes about the accident, as well as writing down contact and insurance information for other drivers, and contact information for passengers and witnesses.
- Disposable camera. This is a crucial item to have on hand, just in case a smartphone is broken or dead.
- Food and water. A jug of clean water and non-perishable snacks like crackers, cookies, dried fruit, protein bars, and more can help wrecked motorists stave off hunger until they're found.
Experienced Representation for Victims of Wilmington, DE Car Accidents
Were you injured in a car accident caused by someone else's negligence? The knowledgeable attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you explore your legal rights and options. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial review of your case.
How do I obtain a car accident police report in Delaware?
When police are summoned to a car crash, the responding officer talks to those involved, surveys the scene, and completes an accident report. This report usually contains the opinions of the investigating officer, as well as detailed information about the accident, including:
- Time, date, and location
- Relevant weather and road conditions
- Makes, models, and license plate numbers of the involved vehicles
- Contact information, insurance information, and statements from involved drivers
- Contact information and statements from passengers and witnesses
Though police accident reports aren't admissible in court for the purpose of proving negligence, they can still provide crash victims—and their personal injury attorneys—with valuable information. Unfortunately, in Delaware, people involved in car accidents don't automatically receive a copy of the police report. They can, however, request a copy of the police report from the law enforcement agency that responded to the accident.
How Can I Obtain a Copy of the Police Report?
To obtain a copy of an accident report from the Delaware State Police, crash victims must send a request to Delaware State Police, Traffic Operations Section, P.O. Box 430, Dover, DE 19903, along with a copy of the Collision Information Exchange form given to them by the investigating officer. The fee—which must accompany the request for the police accident report—is $25 for a standard collision report or $60 for a fatal collision report. Accident victims with questions about obtaining a report can call 302-739-5931 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The process to obtain an accident report from municipal police departments is similar, though the exact details vary. Call the specific law enforcement agency that responded to the accident for additional information.
Do You Need an Experienced Car Accident Attorney?
What if my car accident was caused by a drowsy driver?
Life is busy and, as a result, many are burning the proverbial candle at both ends. Though driving while tired may not seem on par with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, research shows it can have the same impairing effects. Drugged, drowsy, and drunk drivers all experience slowed reactions, decreased focus, and impaired judgment and decision-making ability.
Drowsy driving is extremely prevalent and, yet, many people remain unaware of the danger it poses. According to research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other federal agencies, more than 72,000 accidents involving drowsy drivers were reported to police each year from 2009 to 2013; annually, these crashes injured more than 41,000 people and killed more than 800.
Unfortunately, Delaware Isn't Immune to the Problem of Drowsy Driving
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an analysis of a Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) telephone survey it conducted in 2009 and 2010. Of the more than 4,100 Delawareans who participated in the survey, more than 100 admitted to having fallen asleep while driving at least once in the past month.
Drivers or passengers who were severely injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, property damage costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. However, proving that an excessively fatigued driver caused an accident can be challenging, as many drivers may be reluctant to admit that their lack of adequate rest resulted in an accident, injury, or fatality. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney with experience handling motor vehicle accidents knows just what to look for when investigating a drowsy driving crash.
Were Your Injuries Caused by a Drowsy Driver?
If you were injured in an accident caused by a fatigued driver's negligence, attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you explore your legal rights and options. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case analysis.
Is the driver of the rear vehicle always at fault in a rear-end car accident case?
When a car and the vehicle in front of it collide, resulting in a rear-end accident, the prevailing wisdom is that the driver of the second vehicle is almost always at fault, as they had a duty to follow at a safe distance and—had they done so—could have presumably prevented the crash. While this is often the case, the presumption that the second driver is always to blame doesn't hold true for every rear-end accident.
In fact, there are a number of rear-end collisions scenarios where the blame—and, more importantly, liability—may not rest solely on the driver of the second vehicle, including instances in which:
- The driver of the first vehicle reverses without warning
- The first driver's brake lights are not working
- The driver of the first vehicle stops suddenly to make a turn, but fails to actually execute the turn
- The first driver experiences a vehicle maintenance issue—such as a flat tire—but fails to safely pull over or turn on the hazard lights
In the above examples, the driver of the first vehicle may be considered negligent and, thus, at least partially responsible for the accident and subsequent damages.
Do You Need an Experienced Wilmington, DE Car Crash Attorney?
If you were injured or sustained significant property damages in a Wilmington, DE rear-end car wreck that wasn't your fault, the knowledgeable attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you explore your options for compensation. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation case consultation.
How long do I have to file a claim in a personal injury lawsuit?
Most states have statute of limitation laws that place limits on how long an accident victim has to file a civil claim, such as a personal injury lawsuit. In Delaware, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years, meaning that the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date the accident—and the related injuries—occurred. Accident victims who fail to file a lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations risk having their case dismissed.
There can be exceptions—the statute of limitations may pause, or “toll,” if the victim was mentally incompetent at the time of the injury. In this case, the time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit extends to three years after the disability ends.
Don’t Wait Until You Are Up Against a Deadline
However, don't let the fact that you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit relax you into complacency. Waiting to file your lawsuit can have a number of unwanted consequences. Witnesses may move, change their phone number, or forget the details of what they saw. Additionally, evidence may deteriorate or be lost as time goes by.
Building a strong personal injury case can take time. Initiating a lawsuit as soon as possible after an accident ensures that you and your attorney are able to talk with witnesses and document and preserve other relevant evidence while it's still fresh. Well-documented evidence and witness statements, collected immediately following an accident, can strengthen your case as you head into negotiations or prepare for trial.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
While exceptions to the statute of limitations can and do occur, when so much is at stake—it's better to be safe than sorry. If you were involved in an accident, waiting too long to act may jeopardize your right to pursue compensation for your injuries. Don't forfeit your right to take legal action. Contact the skilled attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group today to schedule a free initial consultation.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that can be used to the advantage of both the plaintiff and defendant in personal injury cases. The law allows potential plaintiffs to file a personal injury lawsuit and pursue compensation for damages—even if they were partially at fault for their injuries—but may also be deployed by the defense in a bid to reduce their financial responsibility to the victim. Thus, comparative negligence can either be seen as a saving grace or a wrench thrown into the works, depending on your culpability in the accident that caused your injuries.
Modified Comparative Negligence
When it comes to the assignment of blame in personal injury cases, Delaware subscribes to the rule of modified comparative negligence meaning that, in order to be eligible to recover damages from the defendant, the plaintiff must be 50 percent or less at fault for the accident that caused their injuries. The judge—or possibly the jury—assigned to the case determines the proportionate responsibility of each party and takes that into consideration when deciding how much compensation the plaintiff can potentially recover.
Were You Injured in a Car Accident?
If you were injured in an accident in which your own negligence played a role, Delaware's comparative negligence laws may make it possible for you to still file a lawsuit and seek compensation for related damages such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, comparative negligence laws can just as easily be used to reduce the financial award you can receive as an accident victim.
Having knowledgeable and experienced legal representation is the best way to ensure that you receive the compensation you need and deserve to get your life back on track after an accident. Contact the skilled legal team with the Morris James Personal Injury Group to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case. You can also request a free copy of our eBook, Anatomy of a Personal Injury Claim for additional information.
What are the car insurance requirements in Delaware?
While every state requires drivers to carry auto insurance, each state is free to set its own mandates for type of coverage, monetary limits, penalties for lack of coverage, and other issues related to auto insurance.
How Auto Insurance Policies Work
Auto insurance policies are intended to protect all drivers in case of an accident. Accident victims can obtain compensation to heal physically and financially after an injury, and those responsible can protect their own financial interests. When you pay the premium on an auto insurance policy, the insurance company will cover any damages after an accident, shielding a driver from possible financial ruin. Typically, your auto insurance policy will have a deductible—a specific amount you pay out-of-pocket when your insurer has to pay for an accident. Your deductible can be as little or as much as you specify when you begin your relationship with your insurance company. Typically, a policy with a higher deductible will have a lower premium, or monthly payment.
Auto Insurance Minimums Required by Delaware Law
The amount of money your policy is worth can depend on where you live. While it is ultimately up to the insured to decide how large of an auto insurance policy they’d like to purchase, the state of Delaware does require at least minimum amounts and different types of coverage, including:
- Bodily Injury Protection – This covers the injury or death of another person in an accident. Delaware minimums are:
- $15,000 to one person
- $30,000 to all people involved in an accident, with no more than $15,000 to any one person
- Property Damage – This covers damage to another’s property from an accident, such as a car, personal property inside a vehicle, or any other items that are damaged as a direct result of the accident. Delaware minimums are:
- $10,000 for one accident
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – In Delaware, regardless of fault, your insurance will pay for medical expenses and lost wages by you and your passengers. Delaware minimums are:
- $15,000 to one person
- $30,000 to all people involved in an accident, with no more than $15,000 to any one person
- $5,000 for funeral expenses
These amounts are the minimum coverage required, and drivers can, and should, elect to pay for more coverage if they wish. State law does mandate auto insurance coverage, though, and the penalties for driving without insurance can be severe, including steep fines and loss of driving privileges.
Optional Coverage for Additional Protection for Delaware Drivers
While the state does not require that drivers carry any additional insurance other than what is stated above, insurance companies do typically offer other types of coverage for a number of situations. These optional coverages can include:
- Collision – Collision coverage would pay for the damage done to your car in a crash with another object.
- Comprehensive – Comprehensive coverage would pay for damage from almost any other reason outside a crash, including fire, severe weather, theft, and more.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist – Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage would protect you if you are involved in a hit and run accident or an accident with a driver who does not carry adequate insurance.
Other optional coverage can include rental car reimbursement, vehicle towing and repair coverage, and underinsured bodily injury coverage.
Dealing With Delaware Insurance Companies After an Accident
With respect to auto insurance, Delaware is an at-fault state. This means that when an accident occurs, the at-fault driver is responsible for paying for the accident-related expenses of anyone else involved.
In many cases the at-fault driver and/or his insurance company will dispute the claim of responsibility in an attempt to minimize the financial consequences. The insurance company will look for any way to keep from paying accident victims the full amount they are due, so it is important for victims to act quickly to protect their rights.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a Delaware car accident, the experienced lawyers at the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you work with your insurance company or negotiate with the responsible driver’s to achieve the best outcome possible. Take a moment to fill out our online contact form, and you’ll receive a prompt response from a member of our team who can answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
- Bodily Injury Protection – This covers the injury or death of another person in an accident. Delaware minimums are:
What compensation can I seek after an accident in Delaware?
After an accident or injury, victims often have many worries. Usually, their main concern is their health. Receiving proper medical care and therapies to support recovery should be the most important focus. However, the injuries and that treatment can leave an accident victim unable to work. Faced with a loss of income and mounting medical bills, victims are often worried about how they will meet their financial obligations. During what is already a difficult time, victims should not have to worry about whether they will be able to continue to receive medical care or wonder how they will support their families until they can return to work. To that end, the state of Delaware allows victims to file a personal injury claim against those responsible for their accident and resulting injuries. These claims seek compensation to help victims and their families to receive appropriate medical treatment and continue to live a stable, secure life.
What Kind of Compensation Can Delaware Victims Obtain?
To be awarded compensation, victims must show how they have been harmed specifically. There are a number of distinct categories in which the courts can award monetary settlements. These encompass both economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical bills. Any medical bills related to the accident can be covered, including hospital stays, medications, therapies, and even modifications necessary to a vehicle or home.
- Future medical bills. In some cases, the injury sustained in the accident leads to a long-term health problem or permanent disability. The courts can assess what the victim will likely have to pay over the course of the next many years and award corresponding compensation.
- Lost income. When the injury prevents a victim from working, the victim can lose valuable income. As with medical bills, a victim can receive compensation for future lost wages as well, should the injury diminish his ability to earn income in the future.
- Pain and suffering. Pain and suffering compensation falls under the non-economic damages. These damages are intended to offer the victim some coverage for the physical and emotional pain he suffered in the accident and during the course of recovery.
- Punitive damages. These damages are meant as punishment to the responsible party and to deter future bad behavior.
For each area, the court will examine the facts of the case and the situation of the victim to determine if they are eligible for compensation. As an example, injured persons who are in a Delaware registered car will probably have access to personal injury protection coverage.People with this coverage will have access to wages and medical bills up to the two year period following the accident. Every case is different, and a skilled Wilmington, DE personal injury attorneys can work with a victim to prepare a comprehensive view of their needs and injuries to obtain the maximum amount of compensation. Additionally, if the victim dies as a result of his injuries, his surviving family members may be able to obtain compensation.
To determine an award or a settlement offer, the courts and the insurance companies examine a number of factors. The economic damages can be fairly straightforward to calculate. How much are the medical bills? How much are they likely to cost in the future? How much income was the victim earning? Non-economic damages are not as clear-cut, and there is often the negotiation between the victim and the insurance company when discussing a settlement. Again, with the help of a skilled attorney, victims can negotiate with insurance companies to find a number they feel is appropriate for the severity of the injuries.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, you are entitled to fair compensation under the law. Don’t let insurance companies undermine your medical care or your family’s future. Call the Morris James Personal Injury Group today to talk with a member of our team and learn more about your rights in Delaware.