On April 4, 2017, the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association (DTLA) introduced a bill (House Bill 114) to help injured victims recover what they deserve when involved in a car accident, and the bill was signed by Governor Carney on June 13, 2017.
House Bill 114 amends Title 21 of the Delaware Code relating to bodily injury and property damage coverage for motor vehicles. The new Law increases the minimum limits for coverage to reflect current economic conditions. The minimum coverage for bodily injury or death for one person will increase from $15,000 to $25,000, and the limit per accident will increase from $30,000 to $50,000. Minimum insurance policies, for uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits will increase to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. The minimum property damage required also increased to $10,000 per accident.
Two of the most important aspects of car insurance policies are bodily injury and uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage. These coverages can help pay for pain and suffering, admissible medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
Delaware had one of the lowest coverages for bodily injury in the country, most likely because the minimum limits had not changed since 1983. Despite inflation, rising medical cost, rising wages, more expensive cars and higher premiums, the minimum bodily injury liability limits, and property damage limits have remained stagnant. Delaware’s increased minimum limits will put the state minimum on par with 32 other states throughout the country.
Kimmel Carter Partner, Jonathan O’Neil, is the current President of the DTLA, and Kimmel Carter Managing Partner, Larry Kimmel, also served as DTLA president from 2013 to 2014 and remains on the Board of Governors. DTLA President, Jonathan O’Neil says, “It has been 34 years since the minimums have increased. Inflation alone has had a huge impact on coverage. This bill will get injured victims to recover closer to what they deserve despite limited insurance coverage. We’re working hard to protect people who are significantly injured in auto accidents.”
Once the bill was introduced, Larry Kimmel and Jonathan O’Neil testified in front of the Economic Development /Bank/Insurance/Commerce Committee in the House of Representatives. HB114 was then released to the full House of Representatives and passed voting with 33 in favor and 5 opposed, with 2 representatives absent. Larry Kimmel and Jonathan O’Neil testified again when the bill was assigned to the Banking/Business/Insurance Committee in the Senate. The bill was then released to the full Senate, where Kimmel Carter Managing Partner, Larry Kimmel, was called upon to testify in front of the full Senate. On June 13, 2017, HB114 passed through Senate unopposed with one absence. Governor Carney signed the bill into law the same day.
According to Larry Kimmel, “The new law will benefit victims who are significantly injured in accidents. With so many high-speed roadways in Delaware like I-95 and Route 1, the risk for more significant accidents and injury is so high”. The new law will become effective 6 months after Governor Carney signed the legislation, making it effective for all insurance policies written after December 13, 2017.