Most people injured in car, truck or pedestrian accidents in Delaware are unfamiliar with the civil justice system. Whether it’s making an initial car accident insurance claim for PIP benefits or taking the at-fault driver to court, the civil justice process can feel overwhelming. This is often due in large part to unfamiliarity with the legal process.
Below is a brief explanation about the basics of car accident lawsuits in Delaware. Click here for Part 1 of this article which discusses making PIP claims and whether a car accident claim can be resolved without filing a lawsuit. Part 2 of this article discussed some preliminary issues, such as how, where and when a DE car accident lawsuit is filed.
What Happens in a Delaware Lawsuit
After a car accident lawsuit is filed and the at-fault party is served with a Summons and Complaint (notice of the lawsuit), the discovery process begins. The parties exchange answers to Interrogatories, which are basic questions about the parties, the car accident, the witnesses, extent of the injuries etc. The parties will also exchange tangible evidence related to the case, such as:
- medical records and reports,
- evidence of financial losses,
- car insurance policy information,
- diagrams, and
- any other thing related to the case (i.e., car accident report).
After these exchanges occur, and depending on the legal issues in the case, the attorneys will depose the parties as well as important witnesses. For instance, in a case in which liability is an issue, an eyewitness may be deposed in order to determine who was at fault for causing the accident. After the discovery process is complete, the parties will head to trial or other resolution, such as mediation or arbitration. It is important to note that the vast majority of car, truck and pedestrian accident lawsuits are resolved short of trial. In fact, 8 or 9 cases out of 10 will be settled and resolved prior to trial.
Where the Lawsuit Takes Place
Many individuals think that the litigation process or lawsuit takes place inside of a courtroom. That’s only partly true. Car accident lawsuits may ultimately be resolved in a courtroom, i.e., trial. However, the trial is the end product of litigation. The litigation process involves gathering and analyzing evidence, deposing parties, etc., all of which take place outside of the courtroom and mostly in an attorney’s office. For instance, depositions usually take place at attorneys’ offices or court reporting offices.
How a Lawsuit is Resolved
Generally, car, truck and pedestrian accident cases occurring in New Castle County will be filed in the Wilmington Courthouse and be assigned to a single judge, who will enter a Case Scheduling Order, which schedules a trial date. The same judge will decide all pre-trial motions, and ultimately preside over any trial. After discovery is complete, the judge will hold a pretrial conference.
In addition, per Delaware Court rules, all civil cases filed in the Superior Court are subject to mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR can take place in the form of an arbitration, mediation or neutral assessment. The default form of ADR is Mediation. Mediation is a chance for the parties to discuss settling the case. A car, truck or pedestrian accident lawsuit may be resolved and settled via ADR. If the parties are not able to reach an agreement to settle the case, the case will proceed to trial. Read about what happens after a car accident case is tried or resolves (Part 4).
- Hurt in a Car Accident in Wilmington? Learn the Basics of Delaware Car/Auto Accident Lawsuits
- Hurt in a Car Accident in Wilmington? Learn the Basics of Delaware PIP Coverage Law
- Lost Wage and Salary Claims in a Delaware Car Accident Case – Documenting the Lost Wage Amount
Wilmington DE 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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