This page explores Delaware settlement amounts and jury payouts and provides a summary of Delaware personal injury law, including the types of cases that may be brought, the statute of limitations, and the damages that may be awarded. It is written both for lawyers who should bookmark this page and victims who want to learn more about settlement value and personal injury law in Delaware.
Delaware Injury Verdicts and Settlements
- $190,000 Verdict (Kent County 2021): general surgeon at Bayhealth Medical Center operated on the plaintiff to remove his cancerous thyroid gland and in doing so, failed to remove part of his cancerous right lobe of his thyroid gland and his cancerous left lobe. The negligent surgery allowed the cancer to progress and required the plaintiff to undergo additional surgery.
- $1,800,000 Verdict (New Castle County 2019): the plaintiff was driving on Salem Church Road in Newark, Delaware, when his vehicle was allegedly struck by a motor vehicle operated by the defendant. The plaintiff suffered very serious personal injuries. The award included punitive damages against the defendant for reckless conduct.
- $4,500 Verdict (Kent County 2019): intersection collision on Millsboro Highway resulted in alleged soft tissue injuries to the plaintiff’s neck and back.
- $400,000 Settlement (New Castle County 2018): defendant ER doctor and hospital negligently failed to diagnose osteomyelitis in 5-year-old female patient and instead diagnosed as simple ankle fracture. As a result, the girl reportedly suffered leg growth plate damage which required four surgeries and resulted in a significant leg length discrepancy.
- $180,000 (Kent County 2016): the plaintiff underwent surgery at Milford Memorial Hospital of Bayhealth Medical Center to have her gallbladder removed. The surgery negligently performed the procedure and accidentially cut into her bile duct resulting in pain and requiring further surgery.
Delaware Personal Injury Law
Delaware Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
In Delaware, there is a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, for filing a personal injury lawsuit. This limit is two years from the date of the accident that caused the injuries. If you miss this deadline, you may not be able to seek compensation for your injuries or hold the responsible party liable for the accident.
Discovery Rule Exception
There are a few exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations in Delaware. The discovery rule can extend the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit. Under this rule, the statute of limitations for a lawsuit begins to run from the time when the injured person knew or should have known that they had suffered harm and that the negligence or wrongful conduct of another party caused their injury.
In other words, the statute of limitations clock doesn’t start ticking until the injured person has knowledge of their injury and its cause. This rule is designed to prevent situations where a person does not discover their injury until long after the injury occurred, and the statute of limitations has already expired.
But the injured person must be able to prove that they had no way of knowing about their injury or its cause before a certain date. In most personal injury cases our lawyers see, this is difficult or impossible. The solution? Contact a Delaware personal injury lawyer early in the process just so you know the deadline to file a lawsuit will apply to your injury or wrongful death claim.
Delaware Malpractice Statute of Limitations
In Delaware, medical malpractice lawsuits have the same statute of limitations: two years. But the discovery rule is different because of statute of repose. This limits the time period in which a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed, even if the injury is not immediately discovered. The statute of repose provides that no Delaware medical malpractice lawsuit may be filed more than three years after the date on which the negligent act or omission occurred, except in cases where the malpractice was fraudulently concealed or where the victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident.
It is important to note that there are certain exceptions to these time limits, such as in cases of foreign objects left inside a patient during surgery or in cases involving disabilities. So you want to talk to a Delaware attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases to make sure you have a handle on the specific rules and procedures that apply to your case.
Birth Injury Statute of Limitations
In cases where the injured party is a minor, the statute of limitations in a Delaware birth injury lawsuit is extended until the minor reaches age 18. If a child is injured in an accident, their parents or guardians have until the child’s 18th birthday to file a lawsuit on their behalf. Our lawyers usually see this in the context of a birth injury lawsuit, which is a focus of our law firm. But this applies to any tort claim from a minor (excluding wrongful death claims).
Other Deadlines to File
The statute of limitations in Delaware applies only to filing a civil lawsuit. Insurance claims, such as a no-fault claim, are different. In many cases, it is advisable to file an insurance claim as soon as possible after an accident to receive compensation for medical bills and other expenses. Filing an insurance claim does not automatically mean that you cannot file a lawsuit later if necessary.
The Delaware Tort Claims Act (DTCA) is a law that establishes procedures for individuals to make claims against the State of Delaware and its employees for damages caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of the State or its employees. The purpose of the law is to provide a means for individuals to seek compensation for injuries caused by the State or its employees…and, make no mistake, protecting the government from excessive liability.
You cannot sue individual Delaware state government employees for ordinary negligence. But the DTCA provides indemnification for public officers, employees, or members. This means that the state will pay for the expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred by the public officer, employee, or member in defending against any legal action that they would have been immune from if not for the Constitutional or legal provision.
Under the DTCA, a person who wishes to file a claim against the State must first file a notice of claim with the Office of Management and Budget within 90 days of the incident giving rise to the claim. The notice must include a detailed statement of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, the nature of the injuries or damages suffered, and the amount of damages being claimed.
After receiving the notice of claim, the State has six months to investigate the claim and attempt to resolve it through negotiation or mediation. If the claim is not resolved within six months, the claimant may file a lawsuit in court.
Damage Cap for DTCA
If the government is sued and found to be at fault, the damages awarded can’t exceed $300,000 for any claims arising from a single occurrence, unless the government has purchased liability insurance in excess of $300,000. The government can also settle claims in accordance with procedures set by its governing body.
Sex Abuse Exception
The Delaware Tort Claims Act excludes civil liability limits for claims against public schools involving sexual abuse of a child by an adult employee or agent of the school. This means that the school, or the officer or employee, can be held liable for damages in a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse of a child by an adult employee or agent of the school, based on sexual acts that would constitute a criminal offense under the Delaware Code., and members from certain types of civil liability. The law is outlined in Chapter 40 of Title 10 of the Delaware Code.
Delaware Dog Bite Claims
In Delaware, dog bite incidents are governed by the state’s dog bite law, which imposes strict liability on dog owners for injuries or damages caused by their dogs. Under this law, a dog owner is strictly liable for any injuries or damages that their dog causes, regardless of whether the owner was negligent or knew of the dog’s vicious tendencies.
In order for a victim to recover damages under the law, they must prove that:
- The defendant owned the dog
- The dog caused the plaintiff’s injuries or damages
- The plaintiff did not provoke the dog
It’s important to note that the law applies to injuries caused by any type of dog, not just those that have been identified as dangerous or vicious. Additionally, the law applies to injuries that are caused by a dog in any location, not just on the owner’s property.
If a victim is successful in their claim, they may be entitled to damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney if you have been injured in a dog bite incident in Delaware to understand your rights and options.