Many residents of Delaware who are seriously injured in auto accidents forgo taking legal action when they have perfectly valid claims. This is often due to misinformation about their legal rights and the legal process. Many individuals who contact our office about a potential case are surprised to learn that they have legal rights to financial compensation over and above any PIP claim.
This two-part article will discuss the steps involved in settling an auto accident injury claim in Delaware:
Step 1: Prepare and Send a Demand Letter to the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
Step 2: File and Serve a Complaint
Step 3: Engage in Discovery
Step 4: Prepare for Trial
Step 5: Negotiate a Settlement
Part 1 will discuss the first 3 steps, and part 2 will discuss the last two steps.
1. Send a Demand Letter
A demand letter is sent to the opposing party’s auto insurance company before a lawsuit is actually filed. It summarizes the accident, injuries, damages, etc. The purpose of a demand letter is to settle a case and avoid litigation. In other words, the letter is an offer to settle the claim in order to avoid the lawsuit. Demand letters are not always successful, nor appropriate due to issues like timing or liability. For instance, in a case where an injured driver hires a lawyer just a few months before the statute of limitations expires, there simply is not enough time to prepare and send a demand letter. In a case where liability is heavily contested, a demand letter would be ineffective because the other party’s insurance company would certainly fight the claim in court rather than agree to a settlement.
Related: Recovering Medical Bills in a Delaware Car or Truck Accident Case
2. File and Serve a Complaint
A complaint is a legal document which begins a lawsuit. In an auto injury case, the injured driver, passenger, pedestrian is named as the plaintiff and files a complaint against the other driver. The complaint details the accident and injuries. Under Delaware injury law, a copy of the complaint and summons must be served on the other party.
3. Engage in Discovery
Once the initial pleadings are completed, the parties will engage in the discovery process. During this phase of the lawsuit, the parties exchange evidence including physical evidence like medical records and pictures. In addition, the parties depose each other and any important witnesses. For example, in a Wilmington auto accident lawsuit, the plaintiff will have the opportunity to depose the defendant, and likewise, the defendant will have the opportunity to depose the plaintiff. At a deposition, the parties are allowed to ask any question related to the accident, injuries, etc. In some cases, it may be necessary to take depositions of witnesses, such as passengers, eyewitnesses, police officers, etc.
Click here for part 2 of this article.
*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.
*Use of the contact form on this website or emailing one of our lawyers does not create any attorney-client relationship. In addition, confidential information should not be sent through the contact form.