Delaware is not a state known for pursuing aggressive tort reform. Specifically, the state does not have any caps in place to limit non-economic damage awards or punitive awards in medical malpractice cases. The one exception to the above is that Delaware does require all malpractice claims to go before a review panel before a case is filed in court. The panel, made up of two health care providers, one attorney, and two laypersons reviews the claim and provides an initial judgment as to the merit of the case. The claimant can then request a review of the panel’s findings, or, in the case of a negative finding the panels judgment can be introduced as evidence in court. However, the panel’s finding, while admissible as evidence, is not conclusive in a trial.
Delaware has a fairly standard and straightforward statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases. Claims must be brought within two years of the alleged injury, or in a case where the injury was not discovered immediately within three years of the date of the alleged injury. Children who are under six when an injury occurs have either the two years or until they are six, whichever is longer.
While Delaware has not made many significant moves toward serious tort reform to increase protection from medical liability lawsuits, this may simply reflect a less litigious tort climate than we see in some other states and court systems. The presence of a growing number of insurance providers indicates a healthy, stable risk environment. With a good policy in place that has at least the standard baseline $1M/3M limits you can practice with the confidence that you are protected
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