Under Delaware car accident law, drivers owe an ordinary and reasonable duty of care to their passengers. If a passenger is injured in a car accident due to negligence of the driver, the passenger may have a valid legal claim against the driver. Oftentimes, the driver is a friend or extended relative, which can make the case emotionally difficult for the parties. However in very serious injury cases, when the medical bills and lost wages exceed the PIP coverage, the passenger will literally have no choice but to file suit against the driver.
Passenger car accident cases are often complex for many reasons, such as, potential PIP issues, liability issues and damage issues. In addition, immigrants or non-U.S. citizens face cultural and language barriers when obtaining justice in both civil and criminal cases. Whether the individual is from Mexico, Africa or Asia, presenting a civil case such as a car accident case is often very challenging. Read more about the challenges non-citizens face in injury and accident cases.
One of our recent passenger car accident cases highlights many of these difficulties. Our client was a Haitian immigrant who was a passenger in a car pool, on the way back from working at a poultry plant. He’d fallen asleep in the backseat. The driver fumbled for her blue tooth earpiece and ran off the road into the dirt. When she tried to get back on the road, she lost control and the car began to fishtail all over the road. The car then started heading for a tree on the left side of the road. At this point, the front seat passenger grabbed the wheel and pulled hard to the right. The driver pulled to the left, and they ended up hitting the tree head-on.
Our client suffered major trauma and injuries. He lost consciousness and woke up in the hospital. His left arm was broken and required major surgery, an open reduction internal fixation. He had a concussion with loss of consciousness, a head laceration, left shoulder sprain, and spinal injuries. He was in the hospital for 4 days and needed medical treatment for another 5 months. He was out of work for roughly 6 months.
His medical bills, after PIP exhausted, totaled nearly $65,000. His lost wages, after PIP exhausted, were close to $6,000. Our client sued the driver, and as the case progressed, we added a claim against the front seat passenger, for grabbing the wheel. On the eve of trial, we settled the case against the front seat passenger and obtained his $15,000 car insurance policy limits. Our client proceeded to trial against the defendant-driver, and the defendant-driver proceeded with her claim against the front seat passenger. The jury returned a verdict for the rear seat passenger, our client, for $90,000.00, and found the driver solely at fault. Interestingly, the jury did not find the front seat passenger liable at all.
If you were a passenger in a car accident in Delaware and would like to discuss your rights, please contact our Delaware car accident lawyers. (302) 658.1717
- Passengers’ Rights in Delaware Car Accidents
- Proving Fault in a Delaware Car Accident Insurance Claim
- Recovering Medical Bills in a Delaware Car or Truck Accident Case
Delaware Car Accident Lawyer with Over 30 Years of Experience
Since 1982, firm founder, Martin Knepper, has served residents of Delaware in all personal injury matters, including car accidents and truck accidents. Contact our accident lawyers today and ask for a free consultation. (302) 658.1717 Our lawyers serve residents throughout the Delaware area, including: Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Middletown, and Smyrna.
We also represent residents of other states such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia who are injured in car or truck accidents while in Delaware. For more information, please contact us.
*Disclaimer: This website page does not provide any legal advice or create any attorney-client relationship. Every case is unique and you should not take any action or make decisions in your case without speaking to a qualified car and truck accident lawyer in Delaware. Any discussion of results is no guarantee of the same or similar results in current or future cases.
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