A Complete Guide to Delaware Car Accident Laws

Delaware accident laws assign steep penalties to drivers who leave the scene of a crash or don’t report it to police—and they limit the damages you can claim.
Written by R.E. Fulton
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Delaware car accident laws impose harsh penalties–including license revocation and possible imprisonment–for drivers who fail to stop at an accident and exchange information with other parties. In addition, the state’s modified comparative negligence law limits the amount of damages you can recover following an accident. 
Statistics say that the average American will be in four car accidents in their lifetime—and when it happens to you, you’re not likely to be at your best. Rather than waiting for the worst to happen, arm yourself in advance with a robust understanding of the laws governing car accidents in Delaware. 
In this guide, we're breaking down the law so you don’t have to! We’ll run through the sections of the Delaware Code that apply to car accidents and look at reporting requirements,
car insurance
minimums, and the rules surrounding personal injury and fault. 
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What to do after a crash: Delaware car accident reporting laws

You may already have a general idea of
what to do after a car accident
: get to safety, check for injuries, and exchange information with the other driver. But in Delaware, the rules are even more detailed—and the possible punishment for failing to follow them could be extreme. 
According to
Title 21 Section 4201
of the Delaware Code, any driver involved in an accident that causes injury or property damage must: 
  • Stop immediately as close as possible to the scene of the accident
  • Check to see if anyone involved in the accident was injured or killed
  • Move any damaged vehicles, if possible, so that they’re not blocking traffic
  • Provide their name, address, and
    vehicle registration
    number to the other driver or the owner of any property damaged by the collision, and show a driver’s license
Don’t forget to exchange insurance information with the other driver(s) as well. If you’re the only party who sustained an injury or property damage, the law permits you to leave the scene, but you must report the accident to the police immediately
In general, failure to stop at the scene and check for injuries could result in fines from $230 to $1,150 or jail time from 60 days to 6 months. In addition to those penalties, anyone who violates Section 4201 will be subject to a mandatory six-month license revocation—a huge problem if you need your car to get around! 
If anyone was injured or died as a result of the accident, you have added legal responsibilities—and the consequences for neglecting them are even more severe.
Section 4202
requires any driver involved in such an accident to render reasonable assistance to anyone injured in the crash, including:
  • Driving them to a hospital or doctor’s office
  • Calling 911
  • Waiting at the scene for emergency personnel to arrive
If you’re late to work and feel like you can’t afford to stay at the scene, keep this in mind: for anyone caught committing a
hit and run in Delaware
, the Delaware Code imposes fines of $1,000 to $3,000 or imprisonment between one and two years. If the accident resulted in serious injury, your license could be revoked for a full year, and if it caused a death, you’ll lose your driving privileges for two years—and your record will show a Class E felony
No matter what, you must immediately report a car accident to the police if it involved: 
  • Injury or death
  • Property damage on a public highway of $2,000 or more
  • Any suspected alcohol or drug use
The bottom line? Stay at the scene of any Delaware car accident until you’re sure you’ve discharged all your legal duties. It’s also wise to report the accident to the police unless it’s
a fender bender
that only caused minor property damage. 

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: Delaware insurance laws

Another important step following a car accident? Filing an insurance claim.
Delaware’s car insurance laws
make this slightly easier than in other states since all drivers are required to carry
liability insurance
and
personal injury protection (PIP)
in the following amounts: 
  • $25,000 of
    bodily injury liability
    per person
  • $50,000 of bodily injury liability per accident 
  • $10,000 of
    property damage liability
    per accident 
  • $15,000 of PIP for one person injured in an accident 
  • $30,000 of PIP for all persons injured in an accident 
What does that mean for you? Well, if the other driver was at fault in the accident (e.g., if you were struck by someone texting and driving), you can file a third-party claim with their insurance company, and their liability insurance will payout. But no matter who was at fault, you can file a personal injury protection claim with your own insurance company to cover medical bills, lost wages, and even rehabilitation costs associated with the accident. 
Just remember to
file car insurance claims
promptly. Although there’s no concrete deadline stating
how long you have to file a claim
, most companies require claims to be filed within a “reasonable” period following an accident. 
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Claiming damages after an accident: Delaware’s personal injury laws

There’s one more way to claim damages following a car accident: filing a personal injury lawsuit. Due to Delaware’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims, you must file any lawsuit within two years following a car accident. The exact terms are laid out in
Title 10 Sections 8107
and
8119
of the Delaware Code, and they apply to all personal injury lawsuits—not just those involving car accidents. 
That might sound like a generous window, but keep in mind that some of the pain and suffering that comes from a car accident can have a long, slow-burning fuse. If you sustain an injury that causes chronic pain, mental confusion, or other long-term effects, it might take you two years to really become aware of the depth of the harm—by which point you’ll have missed your opportunity to claim damages. 
To avoid missing that window, keep careful track of any new health problems, pain, or other negative impacts that follow a car accident. Whether you’re struggling with frequent headaches, panic attacks, or a slow-healing injury that’s keeping you out of work, a personal injury lawsuit could help you recover some of the money you’ve lost to medical bills or missed paychecks. 
MORE:

Who’s to blame: Delaware’s comparative negligence law

Exactly how much you can recover through a personal injury lawsuit depends on
Delaware’s comparative negligence law
, which determines how much parties can collect based on their level of fault. Like many states, Delaware adheres to a modified comparative negligence system outlined in
Title 10 Section 8132
of the state code.
If you’re not versed in legalese, here’s what that means: in Delaware, you can only collect damages in proportion to your level of fault for a car accident—and if you’re more than 50% at fault, you won’t be allowed to claim any damages at all.  
Let’s look at an example. Olivia is driving down Division Street in
Dover
on her way to Food Lion for groceries. Because she’s hungry, she’s going about five miles over the speed limit. As she approaches an intersection, Liam runs a red light in front of her because he’s texting a friend about evening plans. Both drivers exchange information, and when she develops chronic headaches a few months later due to a whiplash injury, Olivia files a personal injury lawsuit against Liam for $10,000
Because she was exceeding the speed limit, Olivia is partially at fault for the accident and won’t be able to collect the full $10k. But exactly how much she can claim—and whether she’ll get any payout at all—depends on exactly how much blame insurance agents assigned to her in the accident
Liam’s double violations—
running a red light
and
texting while driving
—are more serious than her
speeding ticket
, so let’s say Olivia is 10% at fault. That means she’ll only be able to recover $9,000 in damages. If Liam tried to sue, on the other hand, he likely would not be able to claim any damages since he was over 50% at fault

How to save money on car insurance in Delaware

Car accidents aren’t just terrifying at the moment—they can continue to impact you in serious ways for months or years to come in the form of higher
car insurance
premiums. 
If you’re looking at a rate hike in the aftermath of a crash, it’s time to shop for new insurance. Jerry can help with that: as a licensed insurance broker,
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