The Covid-19 pandemic is in the country's rear-view mirror, and after two years of lockdowns and isolation, Americans are hitting the road again.
In June 2022, there were estimated to be 3,840 traffic fatalities in the country. Some encouraging news is that the number of fatalities is down 4% when compared to 2021 and 2020. June 2022 was the third month in a row that traffic fatalities were less than they were in 2021. This could be a result of fewer people on the road due to soaring gas prices.
The more encouraging news is that traffic fatalities went down by 39% or more in 9 states and the District of Columbia when compared to June 2021.
The less encouraging news is that 10 states had an increase of 23% or more in traffic fatalities when compared to June 2021. Delaware was one of those states, reporting 6 more fatalities than June 2021, an increase of 40%.
In fact, traffic fatalities on Delaware's roads are rising to record levels. From the start of 2022 until March 8th, there were a total of 29 fatal accidents in Delaware, almost twice the number from the same period of 2021, which was 15.
If you've been in a car accident in Delaware, you could be dealing with a vehicle that is damaged or possibly totaled. If you were injured in a car accident, you may be focused on your recovery. Maybe you are so injured you have to miss work.
One of the first steps after being in an accident is to consult with a car accident lawyer in Delaware. They can help you navigate the process of gathering evidence, negotiating with insurance companies, or representing you in court.
With a population of just over a million people, Delaware is one of the smallest states physically in the U.S. Nestled among the most populous regions of the east coast, it shares borders with Maryland (pop. 6,165,129), New Jersey (pop. 9.267,130), and Pennsylvania (pop. 12,964, 056). It's connected to these states and the rest of the eastern seaboard by Highway Interstate 95, which goes from Florida all the way to Maine.
Interstate 95 is one of the busiest and most well-known interstate highways in the U.S., with millions of people traveling on it every day. The highway enters Delaware from Maryland and leaves the state into Pennsylvania.
In 2021, there were 28,473 traffic accidents in Delaware. In these accidents, 8,255 people were injured, and 139 people were fatally injured. In addition to the families whose lives were impacted, the economic loss to the state as a result of these accidents amounted to over 1.4 billion dollars.
The fatality rate per 100,000 people went from 11.89 in 2020 to 13.92 in 2021, an increase of 17%.
The top three causes of death in these accidents were speeding, not yielding the right of way, and pedestrian error. Sadly, 18 of the people who passed away in a traffic accident in 2021 were minors. Alcohol was a factor in 30% of the fatal crashes, and of the 83 vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes in 2021, only 37 were using safety restraints.
These statistics are sobering for Delaware drivers. A traffic accident can change your and your family's life in a heartbeat. Your physical and emotional well-being can be seriously impacted as well.
You have options but may need help sorting them out and a car accident lawyer in Delaware could help you.
Once you speak with a car accident lawyer in Delaware, they will probably tell you that one of the most common ways to pursue money for your damages is to claim that the at-fault party was negligent.
Most states define negligence as a failure to act with the same care that a reasonable person would show in the same circumstances. That is the case in Delaware as well. There are four elements that you need to prove in order to find a party is negligent. All four must be proven for the claim to be successful. They are:
Duty of Care: You must show that the allegedly at-fault party owed you a duty of care. This means they needed to act and behave in a way that wouldn’t harm or injure others. For example, a driver has a duty not to speed through red lights or drive too closely to the car in front of them.
Breach of Duty: For this element, you must prove that the allegedly at-fault party breached their duty to you with their negligent act.
Causation: Your car accident lawyer in Delaware will aim to show that the party's breach of duty directly caused your injury.
Damages: This is the last but arguably most important element of negligence. You need to show that you suffered damages because of the accident. Damages could mean injuries that required medical care, lost wages from missing work, or any pain and suffering you experienced.
After assessing the facts, an experienced car accident lawyer in Delaware will be able to advise you on whether you have a good case for negligence. If they determine that you do, they can help you pursue a claim with the at-fault party's insurance company or file a lawsuit if that becomes necessary.
Another potential way your car accident lawyer in Delaware may try to show negligence is under a dram shop law. Generally, the dram shop rule holds an establishment that sells alcohol liable if they negligently served an intoxicated customer alcohol and that customer caused harm to someone else as a result.
Delaware protects businesses from liability for damages that were caused by the actions of an intoxicated person. It is, however, against Delaware law for a business to sell alcohol to someone who appears to be intoxicated. So, if you were hurt by the actions of a person while they were under the influence of alcohol, you would have to sue that person directly. You would not be able to go after the vendor who sold them the alcohol.
Another way a car accident lawyer in Delaware can try to get compensation for your damages is through the doctrine of negligence per se.
There are laws and rules in place that are designed to protect the public's safety. Under negligence per se, when a person or party breaks one of these laws without a good reason, they are considered to be negligent as a matter of law. In these instances, all you have to prove is that the violation directly caused your injury.
According to Delaware law, the allegedly at-fault party in a personal injury case is considered negligent per se when:
A common use of negligence per se is in the case of traffic violations. For example, when a driver speeds up or makes an illegal turn, he or she is automatically considered negligent for breaking the law.
A car accident lawyer in Delaware will be able to assess if negligence per se is a good option for you to pursue. How they suggest you proceed will depend on the special circumstances of your case.
Your car accident lawyer in Delaware will typically ask for two types of compensation for the injuries you sustained in a car accident. This compensation is also known as damages. The types of damages are economic or non-economic and punitive.
Economic damages cover your financial losses, such as medical bills and lost wages from missing work.
Non-economic damages are for the mental anguish or pain and suffering you endured because of the accident.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the at-fault party if their behavior was especially egregious. The punitive damages awarded will send a message to the at-fault party and the greater community. They are not awarded as frequently as economic and non-economic damages.
Delaware law requires all vehicle owners to have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. The required minimum protection is $15,000 for any one covered person injured in an accident and $30,000 for all covered persons injured in an accident.
PIP coverage includes medical bills, lost income, and other financial losses. This coverage kicks in whether you are at fault for the accident or not.
If the PIP coverage isn't enough to pay for all your medical expenses, you can make a claim against the at-fault party for the rest of your costs.
Some states will limit the amount of damages you can recover. In Delaware, there is no cap on pain and suffering damages.
Your car accident lawyer in Delaware should also explain to you something called the collateral source rule. This rule states any benefits you get from a source that has nothing to do with the at-fault party won't affect the damages you can receive from the at-fault party.
In Delaware, this rule only applies to private insurance you have bought for yourself. It doesn't apply to public insurance like Medicare.
Let’s say you are in an accident that was someone else’s fault. You have $50,000 in medical bills that your private insurance company pays. Under the collateral source rule, you can still pursue the at-fault party for your $50,000 in medical bills.
Now let’s say you have medical bills of $50,000, for which Medicaid paid a little over $5,000. If you are successful in your claim or lawsuit, the court may reduce your award to $45,000.
A car accident lawyer in Delaware will help you figure out what types of damages to ask for and how much.
What happens if you are partially at fault for the accident? Can you still recover the damages?
Delaware has a modified comparative negligence rule. This means if you were more than 50% responsible for the accident that caused your injury, you would not be able to recover any compensation. If you are less than 50% responsible, the money you receive will be reduced by the amount you were at fault for.
If for example, you received $100,000 in compensation but were found to be 10% at fault for the accident, your reward would be dropped down to $90,000.
Your car accident lawyer in Delaware will discuss comparative fault with you and what it means to recover damages.
The legal theories and potential compensation you could receive don't mean anything if you don't file your case in time. For typical personal injury lawsuits in Delaware, you have two years from the date you were injured to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
An experienced car accident lawyer in Delaware will make sure you are aware of all relevant deadlines that affect your case.
2022 has been a dangerous year on Delaware roads. Fatal crashes this year have happened on rural roads and multi-lane highways.
There have already been 90 traffic fatalities for the period between January 1 and August 24. There were 78 fatalities over the same period in 2021.
Let's see what the accident statistics show in Delaware's biggest cities. Keep in mind that Delaware only has 3 counties, giving it the distinction of the fewest counties among all of the states. This means there will be overlaps in statistics.
Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington, is 30 minutes south of Philadelphia and is the halfway point between New York and Washington, D.C. It is located in New Castle County, where 48% of traffic fatalities in 2022 have taken place.
Fatal crashes in New Castle County are on an upward trend, going from 56 in 2020 to 66 in 2021. There have already been 39 fatalities in the county so far in 2022. Unsurprisingly, a lot of accidents in Wilmington occur on Interstate 95/495. Also another high accident area is Wilmington's commercial section of Concord Pike (Route 202). Dupont Highway (Route 13), which goes through Wilmington's downtown, is another area where traffic accidents tend to occur. Other dangerous intersections are Pulaski Highway (Route 40), Kirkwood Highway (Route 2), Limestone Road (Route 7), and N. Adams Street and W. Second Street.
Hoping to reduce crashes on the interstate, tractor-trailers have been banned from part of I-95 in Wilmington.
Known as the capital city of the first state, Dover is located in Kent County.
Crashes in Kent County represent 18% of the state's crashes in 2022. Fatal crashes in Kent County went up an astounding 112% between 2020 and 2021, jumping from 17 to 36. There have already been 15 traffic fatalities in the county so far in 2022.
The intersection of North and State streets in downtown Dover has been a chief site of motor vehicle accidents in the past. Other spots where fatal accidents have occurred are US-13 at Webbs Lane, SR-1 and Bay Street, Garrison Oak Drive, and US-13 at South Dupont Highway and Webbs Lane.
Newark is the third largest city in Delaware and home to the University of Delaware. It is located in New Castle County, where almost half of the state's crashes have occurred so far in 2022.
Areas in town where accidents have occurred in recent years include Woodlawn Ave, SR-72 Library Avenue, and Wyoming Road.
Known for its nice suburban appeal, Middleton is also located in New Castle County. It's 24 miles south of Wilmington and 24 miles north of Dover. Recent serious traffic accidents in Middleton have occurred on Summit Bridge Road and Bethel Church Road, U.S. Route 301, and Dupont Parkway.
Georgetown is located in Sussex County. Fatal car accidents actually went down 3% in Sussex County, from 33 in 2020 to 32 in 2021. There have been 28 fatalities in Sussex County so far in 2022, accounting for 34% of the fatal accidents in Delaware.
The intersection at Market Street and South Dupont Boulevard has been deemed the most dangerous in the state. Another intersection known for accidents is Old Furnace Road and Cokesbury Road.
In 2021, two stop signs were added to Springfield Road and Gravel Hill Road. Authorities complied when residents, who were accustomed to a two-way top sign at that intersection, asked for red flashing lights above those stop signs and a shortened time period of the light.
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