You or someone you love has been involved in a serious auto accident. Your car may be damaged beyond repair and, even more importantly, your physical health could be in jeopardy. While the last thing on your mind may be pursuing a legal case, Delaware accident victims are entitled to seek both justice and compensation for the injuries sustained due to someone else’s careless or negligent behavior behind the wheel. After an accident, victims are left to face many hardships—physical, emotional, and financial—and a lawsuit may be able to help you and your family obtain the closure and stability you need to move forward with your lives. But, how do you know if it is worth pursuing? How do you know what your case could be worth?
Types of Compensation Available to Delaware Accident Victims
Delaware law allows victims to pursue compensation from the responsible party or their insurance company to cover many costs associated with the accident. Every case is different, and the compensation available can vary from case to case, depending on the nature of the accident and injuries. In general, Delaware victims may be able to receive money for:
- Medical bills. Any treatment a victim receives for injuries sustained in the accident can be covered. This can include hospitalizations, medications, surgeries, physical therapy, doctor visits, and more.
- Future medical bills. In some cases, the injuries will cause ongoing health complications for which the victim will require continuing care. Compensation can be awarded to help cover these expected costs.
- Lost wages. Often, victims will be forced to miss work due to their injuries. In those cases, it is possible to obtain compensation to cover the missed pay.
- Future lost wages. Similar to medical bills, if your condition prevents you from working you could be entitled to compensation to make up for income you would have been able to earn had the accident not occurred.
- Pain and suffering. Though there is no specific way to measure pain and suffering, compensation can be awarded due to the extent of your injury and its impact on your life.
- Property damage. Property damage compensation can cover the repair or replacement of your vehicle and any other property that was in the car or sustained damage because of the accident.
Additionally, Delaware, unlike many other states, does not limit the amount of compensation that can be awarded to an accident victim. Injured people can seek both economic and non-economic damages, and could be awarded any amount that a judge sees fit.
Calculating the Economic and Non-Economic Damages
To determine a specific amount, the courts will assess the economic and non-economic damages sustained by the victim. Economic damages are fairly straightforward – lost wages and medical bills are amounts that can be both reviewed and predicted. The courts or opposing insurance adjusters will add medical bills, property damage reimbursement, the amount of lost wages, figures for anticipated future medical expenses, and possible future lost income together to arrive at figure for economic damages. Non-economic damages, however, are more open to interpretation. Non-economic damages would include things such as pain and suffering or loss of consortium. It is more difficult to assign a monetary amount to these types of injuries. Who can say what these injuries are worth? In general, the more serious the consequences of the injuries, the more compensation will be awarded. Injuries that were extremely painful, leave visible scars, or may never heal fully are typically met with higher non-economic damages compensation.
Barriers to Compensation in Delaware
There are also factors that could reduce the amount of compensation a victim is able to obtain. The two main barriers are fault and the opposing insurance company. The following is a brief overview:
- Fault in Delaware – Delaware is a comparative fault state, meaning that if the victim shares more than 50 percent of the blame for the accident, he is barred from obtaining any compensation. Additionally, if the victim shares some degree of fault (but less than 50 percent), the compensation amount will be reduced by his percentage of fault. This means, that if a driver is found to be 30 percent responsible for an accident, a $100,000 award would be reduced to $70,000.
- Insurance negotiations – These cases often involve negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Regardless of what they say, insurance adjusters are out to save as much of their company’s money as possible and will use any advantage they can find to reduce a settlement award. A skilled lawyer with experience in personal injury cases can help victims protect their interests and obtain fair compensation.
Every case is unique, and the specific circumstances of your accident will play a significant role in determining any compensation awarded. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident, the experienced legal team at the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you understand your rights and protect your interests. Call our office nearest you today to learn more and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.