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Delaware Negligence Laws

Let's say you were the passenger in a car that tried to beat a red light through an intersection in Wilmington, but a driver turning left across your lane tried the same thing and collided with the car you were riding in. Who is at fault for your injuries, and do you have a legal claim based on negligence? How do negligence cases work, and what laws does the First State have regarding who is responsible for your injuries?

This is a brief summary of negligence laws in Delaware.

General Negligence Law

Negligence, as a legal matter, tries to determine whether a person has a duty of care to another and whether they failed in fulfilling that duty. If so, they may be liable for any resulting injuries reasonably related to that person's negligence. Taking the above example, if Patty is driving you to work and she collides with Paul's car turning left, she might be held liable for negligence. In Delaware, Paul may also be liable under a rule known as "modified contributory negligence."

Therefore you could file a negligence claim against both Paul and Connie jointly, or one or the other separately. Since Delaware follows the modified contributory negligence law, the claimant could file a lawsuit and recover so long as they were not more negligent than the tortfeasor(s).

Negligence Laws in Delaware

State negligence laws can vary depending on their particular civil justice system. Negligence laws in Delaware are highlighted in the chart below.

Code Section

Tit. 10 §8132 of the Delaware Code

Modified Comparative Negligence

The claimant's contributory negligence does not bar recovery if such negligence is not greater than the defendant(s) negligence. But any awarded damages are diminished in proportion to the claimant's attributed negligence (Tit. 10 §8132)

Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery


Contribution Among Tortfeasors

Yes; Tit. 10 §§6301 to 6308 (but only if the tortfeasor has paid more than their share or has paid the entirety of the judgment)

Uniform Act

Yes; Tit. 10 §§6301 to 6308

Negligence Cases

In order to have a successful claim, there are several elements of a negligence case you must prove in court:

  • Duty: the other party owed you a duty of care
  • Breach of Duty: the other party failed to meet that duty
  • Cause in Fact: but for the other party's failure, you would not have been injured
  • Proximate Cause: the other party's failure (and not something else) caused your injury
  • Damages: you have actually been injured and suffered some loss

Negligence Laws: Related Resources

Understanding the ins and outs of negligence law can be tricky. You can visit FindLaw's section on Negligence for more articles and resources on this topic.

Filing a Negligence Claim in Delaware? Talk to a Lawyer First

When you've been injured in an accident, the last thing you may want to think about is going to court. However, it may be necessary to enter the legal process in order to be compensated for your injuries. After all, why should you have to foot the bill for someone else's negligence?

Get in touch with a Delaware personal injury attorney near you for some peace of mind.

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