Anyone who has been seriously injured in a car accident knows full well the stresses of coping with the post-accident injuries and the whirlwind of dealing with insurance companies. From property damage and rental car issues to filing PIP claims for medical bills, the process is indeed confusing and at times, exhausting.
As a result of this initial process, many people who are injured in car accidents in Delaware may shy away from a car or truck accident lawsuit, or taking the at-fault driver to court. However, under Delaware auto accident law, innocent victims of car, truck or pedestrian accidents have the right to receive fair and just compensation for their physical and mental pain and suffering.
Deciding whether to proceed with a car accident lawsuit is of course a personal decision, one that should only be made after consulting with a lawyer.
There are two common questions that individuals injured in car accidents often ask before they decide whether to proceed with a lawsuit: how is value determined in a car accident case and how long does the case take to resolve.
How Value is Determined
There is no way to determine the value of a given car accident case without knowing all the facts and circumstances of the accident. Literally, no two cases are alike. However, two critical factors come into play when determining the value of a car accident case: 1. proof of liability and 2. extent of the damages.
Liability – Who Caused the Accident?
Fault or liability comes into the equation because Delaware employs a comparative negligence rule, where each party’s negligence in contributing to the accident is compared and assigned accordingly. There are some car accident situations in which both parties will share liability for having caused the accident. So long as the plaintiff is not more at fault (51%), she can still recover. However, if the plaintiff is deemed to be 30% at fault, then her damages award is reduced by 30%.
There are of course cases when liability is clear. For instance, if the at-fault driver admitted to everyone at the car accident scene and to police, that he ran a red light, then liability would likely be a non-issue. Then the only remaining issue is the damages.
Damages – The Financial Losses and Pain & Suffering
In general, the greater the damages, the higher the value of the case. Someone who suffers a spinal injury which results in paralysis would obviously suffer more than someone who sprained their neck. However, there are situations when legal causation, i.e., that this car accident caused these injuries, may be at issue. This is common in situations when someone had a pre-existing injury, such as an older back injury which became aggravated by the car accident, or when someone has another accident after the car accident at issue. These scenarios are actually quite common.
In addition, proving damages is critical to the value of a case. Proving both the financial losses and pain and suffering requires experience. A lawyer who has no experience handling car accident cases might not provide sufficient evidence of lost wages, and therefore the client is not able to recover all lost wages. For instance, the lawyer may simply be inexperienced in how to assess and prove the damages of a self-employed individual who is injured in a car accident and loses several large clients as a result. On the other hand, an experienced lawyer will work with the client to locate and present the lost wage evidence in a concise and detailed manner.
It is important to note that the damage assessment, or how the damages look at the beginning of a case, can change over time. For instance, at the outset, an injury may seem clear cut, and then becomes significantly worse or better several months after the accident. This is common when dealing with certain types of injuries like back injuries or fractured bones. For example, someone who suffered a back injury in a car accident may end up having back surgery a year or two after the accident, or what was expected to be a significant, permanent injury gets better. Someone who fractured their wrist and did not need surgery initially may be told that due to a nonunion or failure to heal, surgery is required. These kinds of developments over time change the value of a case.
- Making a DE PIP Claim for Lost Wages After a Car Accident – What You Need to Know
- Making a DE PIP Claim for Medical Bills After a Car Accident – What You Need to Know
Car & Truck Accident Lawyer with Over 30 Years of Experience
Since 1982, Knepper & Stratton has handled Delaware personal injury matters, including car accidents and truck accidents. Contact our accident lawyers today and ask for a free consultation. Our offices are located in Wilmington, Newark and Dover. (302) 658-1717
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.
*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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