What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Delaware?
Before we get into the specifics of Delaware’s laws, let’s take a step back. A “statute of limitations” is simply a law that puts a strict time limit on your right to go to court and file a civil lawsuit after some type of harm. These deadlines differ depending on what type of case you want to file.
The statute of limitations deadline that applies to almost all injury lawsuits arising from a car accident will be set by Delaware Code Title 10, Section 8119. This statute gives you two years to ask the state courts for a civil remedy for any kind of personal injury where someone else caused the harm.
So, in the context of a car accident case, that means if anyone was hurt in the crash -- whether a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian -- they must get their lawsuit filed against any potential defendant within two years, and the “clock” starts running on the date of the accident.
A two-year deadline also applies if you had your vehicle or other personal property damaged as a result of the car accident, except that time limit is set by Delaware Code Title 10, Section 8107. That same statute also governs any Delaware wrongful death lawsuit that might be filed by a family member or a representative of the estate of anyone who was killed as a result of the car accident. Keep in mind that for these wrongful death claims, the two-year “clock” starts running on the day of the accident victim’s death, which could be later than the date of the accident itself.
It’s crucial to understand and abide by the statute of limitations as it applies to your case. That’s because if you try to file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations deadline has already passed, the defendant is sure to ask the court to dismiss the case, and the court is very likely to agree that a dismissal is appropriate.
Even if you’re confident that your case will settle, it’s still a good idea to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit. At the very least, keeping all your options on the table will give you more leverage during car accident settlement talks. So if the two-year deadline is approaching, it may be time to talk with an experienced Delaware car accident attorney.
by: David Goguen, J.D.