No one wants to be involved in a car accident. However, due to a variety of factors, most people will experience a crash at some point in their lives. Each year, more than 400 people are seriously hurt and more than 100 are killed in car accidents that take place across the state of Hawaii. Many more people suffer minor injuries or damage to their vehicles.
Here, we will go over some important laws to keep in mind concerning car accident laws in our state. This article may help you decide whether a car accident lawyer in Hawaii is the right decision to help you receive needed compensation for any damages you may have sustained in a car accident that was not your fault.
Car Insurance Laws in Hawaii
Each driver in Hawaii is required to have insurance coverage. Our state’s minimum limits on coverage are:
- $10,000 per person in personal injury protection or PIP coverage
- $20,000 person and $40,000 per accident for bodily injury liability
- $10,000 per accident in property damage liability
PIP Coverage: PIP coverage is “no-fault” insurance. This means that the coverage can be used regardless of who was at fault for the crash. PIP coverage pays medical bills for you and your passengers that were injured in the collision. It can also pay for any other motorists or pedestrians who were involved. Your insurance company can later seek to recover the paid PIP benefits from the at-fault driver in your crash.
Bodily Injury Liability: Bodily injury coverage pays for medical bills and other damages suffered by the people involved in an auto accident.
Property Damage Liability: Property damage pays for damages to your vehicle or the other driver’s vehicle that occurred as a result of the accident.
Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) Motorist Coverage: This cover is optional in Hawaii. It covers your damages if you are involved in a crash with a driver who has no insurance or insufficient insurance to cover your losses. Although it is optional, all motorists should purchase UM/UIM coverage in a sufficient amount to protect them in the event of a serious crash.
Hawaii’s Negligence Laws
If you were injured in a Hawaii car accident, you are likely to become familiar with the concept of negligence. Negligence is the concept that is used to determine whether an injured victim is entitled to recovery from the other driver. Hawaii car accident law utilizes a concept called “comparative negligence.” What this means is that an injured motorist can recover only if they were 50% or less responsible for the crash. In addition to that, any percentage of possibility will reduce the total amount of compensation that can be received. Here is an example of how this works:
Scenario: You were hurt in a crash that took place in Honolulu and suffered $100,000 worth of damages. When your case goes to trial, the court rules that you were 30% at fault and the other driver was 70% at fault. In this scenario, you could receive 70% of the total recovery or $70,000 as compensation for your injuries. Your compensation is reduced by $30,000 based on your relative percentage of fault for the crash. On the other hand, if you were found to be 51% at fault, you would receive nothing.
The relative percentage of fault is an issue that is very often litigated. Having a car accident lawyer in Hawaii can help you avoid common mistakes that might lead to a reduction in your recovery, or even a complete loss, based on Hawaii’s comparative negligence rule.
Filing a Hawaii Personal Injury Claim
The court system in Hawaii is sometimes used to resolve personal injury cases. This happens when the injured victim and the other driver or their insurance company cannot come to an agreement on how to settle their dispute regarding the crash.
Car accident victims have up to two years from the date of the accident to file their claim with the court in most cases. This may seem like a long time, but it is easy to miss a statute of limitations. Once you miss it, you can no longer file a lawsuit, so the insurance company will not be motivated to agree to any settlement with you. It is best to work with a personal injury lawyer in Honolulu as soon as possible after getting injured in a car wreck to ensure that you get the best possible case built to present for settlement negotiations or potentially, a trial.
How a Hawaii Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you were seriously injured in a Hawaii car accident, and you were not the primary cause of the accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your damages under Hawaii personal injury law.
However, the laws surrounding car accidents in Hawaii can be complex and confusing for ordinary individuals. To make matters worse, the insurance company is motivated by their own bottom line and often does not want to pay a fair value for your claims. If they know you are not represented by an attorney, they will probably try to get you to accept a very low settlement amount, or deny your claim altogether.
In order to receive the compensation that you deserve, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer in Honolulu as soon as possible after the accident. Attorneys rarely charge anything upfront to represent you in these types of cases, and they often have access to resources that can greatly increase the odds that you will obtain compensation for your damages. Most personal injury attorneys also offer a free consultation, so you should take that opportunity to speak to a lawyer one-on-one about your accident and the resulting injuries you sustained, to see if you have a viable case. If you do, you can be represented on a contingency fee basis, meaning your attorney will only get paid if and when your case is resolved favorably and you get paid.