Senate Bill 81
152nd General Assembly (Present)
Becomes effective upon date of signature of the Governor or upon date specified
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 10 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO WRONGFUL DEATH ACTIONS.
This statutory addition to Delaware’s Wrongful Death Act will permit the spouse, parents, children, and siblings of a deceased person to recover punitive damages when the actions resulting in the death of another person were maliciously intended or the result of willful or wanton misconduct by the at fault party. Punitive damages are intended to deter the at fault party from future similar conduct and to punish the at fault party for reckless conduct. Presently, an estate can recover punitive damages under a survival action pursuant to 10 Del C. § 3701. A survival action involves the death of an individual as the result of the at fault party where that individual suffers for a period of time before dying. Whereas, a wrongful death action involves the instantaneous death of an individual as the result of the at fault party. This led to cases where the issue of whether a defendant faced punitive damages depended not on the defendant's own actions, but on whether the deceased had suffered long enough for a survival action. This Act also clarifies the definitions of "child" and "parent."