Delaware Car Accident Laws – A Complete Guide


Kimberly Dawn Neumann

Delaware was the first state to ratify the United States Constitution, despite being the second smallest state in the U.S. Even so, it ranks third for the most distracted driving fatalities. Despite their small population, drivers unaware of Delaware car accident laws were responsible for the state’s 165 fatal crashes in 2022.

If you’re traveling on any of the state’s 4392 miles of roadways, you need an accident plan. Fortunately, we’ve put together this complete guide to help you know what to do in case of collision. Keep reading to learn the rules of the road in Delaware so you can get where you’re going safely.

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Common Causes of Car Accidents in Delaware

According to research done by the NHTSA, driver error accounted for 94% of all crashes they measured. This includes “recognition errors” (41%) under which Delaware’s elevated “distracted driving” statistics fall. Actions such as driving and texting, talking on cell phones or programming the car’s GPS are in this category.

Other common car accident causes include:

  • Decision errors (33%) — driving too fast or making illegal lane changes
  • Performance errors (11%) — overcompensating, or generally poor vehicle control
  • Other driver errors (8%) — meaning the other driver’s behavior or skill
  • Non-performance errors (7%) — such as falling asleep at the wheel
  • Vehicle issues (2%) — like a blown tire or faulty brakes
  • Environmental causes (2%) — blaming inclement weather (i.e. rain, ice, or snow)

These statistics further prove why staying alert in the road and getting a lawyer after an accident is important. That’s because most crashes involve another driver or a situation where a personal injury lawsuit may result down the road.

What to Do After a Car Accident in Delaware

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having a car accident in Delaware, your first move is safety. This means, make sure everyone is out of additional harm’s way while checking for injuries. If anyone needs medical attention, call 911 immediately, and if you can move your car, pull over to the side for traffic.

Not only is this good practice, but it’s also “Duty of Driver” law, according to Delaware Code Title 21 §4201(a).

You must also exchange the following information with any other drivers per 21 Del. C. 1953, §4201(b):

  • Driver’s name and address
  • Driver’s license number
  • Vehicle registration

In addition, any driver in a collision should take it upon themselves to gather:

  • Make, model, color, and license plate number of all vehicles
  • Insurance information for any other drivers
  • Contact information for any witnesses at the scene
  • Photos of the scene, damage, and any other pertinent details

The more information you can collect, the better your case if you need to go to trial and prove to a judge and jury.

How to Report a Car Accident in Delaware

Delaware drivers must immediately report any accidents to local law enforcement if these situations occur according to 21 Del. C. 1953, § 4203:

  • The collision results in injury or death
  • The collision takes place on a public highway and involves apparent property damage to an extent of $2,000+
  • It appears that any driver involved in the accident is physically impaired owing to drug or alcohol use

Basically, the easiest way to fulfill this requirement (21 Del. C.1953, §4203) is to call the police when calling 911.

But regardless of the legal aspects, it’s always a good idea to contact law enforcement when there’s an accident. That way you have another person at the scene recording official details through a police report, which may factor into your lawsuit.

Is Delaware a No-Fault State?

Technically, Delaware is an at-fault state for car accidents, meaning whoever’s responsible must pay for the resulting damages. But it’s also a no-fault insurance state. So, every driver in Delaware must carry their own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as if it were a no-fault state, according to 18 DE Admin. Code 603.

The PIP requirement means Delaware insurers must pay a portion of each driver’s medical bills, lost wages, and property damage, regardless of who’s at-fault.

What this no-fault insurance law does is allow all crash victims to have some immediate compensation to help with expenses.

Delaware car accident law may allow you to sue the other driver for additional compensation if you suffered serious injuries. This goes beyond the no-fault insurance system, the outcome of which depends on who the judge or jury deems more at-fault. And, if you have a good lawyer.

Delaware Comparative Negligence Laws

When it comes to determining fault, Delaware functions under a comparative negligence system. This means parties will be assigned a percentage of fault based on their actions during the crash.

Per Delaware Code Title 10 §8132, in any personal injury lawsuit, you can recover damages from the more at-fault party. However, your total compensation gets reduced depending on your liability. For example, let’s say you win $100,000 in damages. If you’re 10% at-fault for the accident, then you’ll receive $90,000.

Keep in mind you may not sue for reimbursement of any expenses that your PIP insurance covers.  Also, if your share of fault is more than 50%, you’re not able to recover any damages at all. These parameters make Delaware a modified comparative fault state.

Delaware Car Insurance Laws

As mentioned above, Delaware is an at-fault state that simultaneously requires drivers to carry no-fault insurance.

Like most states, Delaware stipulates all drivers must have liability insurance meeting certain minimums. Those numbers in Delaware are 25/50/10:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury/death per person, per accident
  • $50,000 for total bodily injury liability for two or more people, per accident
  • $10,000 for property damage

Remember, however, that those numbers do not cover your own injuries or damages. That’s where Delaware’s no-fault insurance PIP laws come into play.

In Delaware, a driver must also carry PIP minimums as follows:

  • $15,000 for one person, per accident
  • $30,000 for all injured persons, per accident

These are only the minimum requirements set per 21 Del. C. 1953, §2118. Once you reach the limits of your policy, you are responsible for anything above that out of pocket. Accordingly, many drivers may also opt for collision/comprehensive coverage for themselves and higher policy amounts to ensure additional protection.

The one thing you won’t want to do, however, is drive without insurance. That’s because it comes with a fine of $1,500 for a first offense, and $3,000 for subsequent convictions. Not to mention, the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your vehicle registration for a period of time.

Types of Damages in Delaware Car Accident Law

If you pursue a lawsuit against another driver in a crash in Delaware, there are two main types of damages. Both are set up to offer compensation for losses resulting from an accident.

Economic Damages

These are the more tangible damages that a victim may seek. They’re usually monetary or otherwise somehow quantifiable. Examples of economic damages include:

  • Medical bills above what PIP covers
  • Lost work or wages (not covered by PIP)
  • Car repairs and maintenance costs
  • Damaged property
  • Physical therapy or the purchase of assistive devices (like wheelchairs)

Non-Economic Damages

Somewhat harder to prove but just as viable are non-economic damages. These are the repercussions of an accident that a victim experiences that may not be tangible but still take a toll. Common examples of non-economic damages include:

Delaware Statute of Limitations

In Delaware car accident law, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the crash. This is the case whether the claims are for personal injuries (Delaware Code Title 10 §8119) or property damage (Delaware Code Title 10 §8107).

The two-year statute also holds with wrongful death cases, but the date of the victim’s passing starts the filing clock.

It is important to pay attention to the statute of limitations. Any claimant who tries to bring a case after expiration will find a judge summarily dismisses their case. Additionally, it’s always better to file when the facts, memories, and damages are fresh as that presents a stronger argument.

Find a Local Auto Accident Attorney With LegalASAP

Delaware’s rather short filing statute and confusing add-on-at-fault comparative negligence system makes it even more important to know your options. A skilled car accident attorney can help you sort through what might fall under PIP and what other compensation might be available to you.

Let LegalASAP connect you with a lawyer in your area free of charge today. Our goal is to get you back on the road to a better tomorrow!

Kimberly Dawn Neumann

Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes toCosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more,, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann