Hawaii is a no-fault car accident state. This means that after a crash, accident victims must first file a claim with their own insurance company in order to receive compensation. But what some Hawaii motorists don’t realize is that it may be possible for them to sue the at-fault driver as well.
Even with Hawaii’s no-fault law, there are times when a personal injury claim can be filed with the reckless party’s insurance company. A Honolulu car accident attorney can determine whether you have an additional claim and assist you with all aspects of the claims process.
Reach out to the Recovery Law Center today for high-quality and compassionate legal services. Attorney Glenn Honda is a skilled trial lawyer with years of experience representing injured people throughout Honolulu and Oahu.
Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Filing a Claim Against Another Driver After a Honolulu Car Accident
You may be able to sue the negligent driver(s) after a Hawaii car accident if:
- Someone was killed.
- You suffered a severe or permanent injury (e.g., traumatic brain injury, disfigurement).
- The medical bills paid by your no-fault insurance company exceed your personal injury protection (PIP) limits.
In serious car accidents, many victims or their surviving family members are often left with expensive medical bills and little means to pay them. Coupled with lost income from missed work, this can cause significant personal distress on top of physical pain and emotional suffering.
At Recovery Law Center, we can review your insurance policy to see if it meets Hawaii’s prerequisites to file a lawsuit against the other driver. If so, we can investigate the crash and identify all liable parties.
What If the Driver Has No Insurance?
In some cases, our legal team may learn that the reckless driver did not have auto insurance or enough insurance to cover the costs of your damages. In those situations, we will check whether additional compensation may be possible if your auto policy includes uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).
You do not have to live in Hawaii to recover UM/UIM compensation. If you were injured on business, vacation or during military service in Honolulu, Recovery Law Center will fight for maximum compensation for your losses.
When Should You Sue After a Car Accident?
Hawaii has a two-year statute of limitations on car accident claims. This is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit against another party for your injuries, property damage and other losses.
It’s critical to speak to a car accident attorney before the deadline expires. Failure to file on time could prevent you from obtaining any compensation at all.
If the car accident resulted in death, the personal representative or beneficiary of the victim can pursue a wrongful death claim on his or her behalf. In Hawaii, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is also two years.
Can I Sue Anyone Else After a Car Accident?
The short answer to this question: Maybe.
Car accidents aren’t always straightforward. Take a multi-car crash as an example. Liability will likely be split amongst multiple drivers, yourself included. That means looking at multiple auto policies, dealing with multiple insurance companies, and figuring out each driver’s degree of fault in the wreck. In these types of cases, having a car accident attorney’s guidance is key to prevent you from being unfairly blamed for the crash and denied compensation.
Another example is in the case of a vehicle defect. If a faulty part caused or contributed to the crash, you could also have a personal injury claim against the designer or manufacturer of that part.
Other potentially liable parties include:
- A company
- City or county government (if a road defect or other hazard caused the wreck)
- Mechanics or others responsible for vehicle maintenance
- Other third parties
If there is more than one liable party and you are eligible to sue, there is the potential for additional compensation. That’s why having Recovery Law Center conduct a thorough and independent investigation is so important after a Honolulu car accident.
How is Fault Determined in Hawaii Car Accidents?
Many factors are taken into account when determining fault after a car accident. The key factor is whether someone else’s negligence caused your injuries.
Negligence means that someone else was reckless or careless. But it must be proven under the law. To do so, you must be able to show:
- The at-fault person or entity had a duty to keep you safe from reasonable harm
- The duty was violated by certain actions (or a failure to act) to prevent the crash.
- The violation caused your injuries
- You suffered damages that can be resolved with compensation.
Hawaii is a modified comparative negligence state. When two or more parties share a portion of the blame, their degree of fault is assigned a percentage by the court.
As long as you are found less than 51 percent responsible for the crash, you have the right to collect compensation for your injuries. But if you are found less than 51 percent responsible for the wreck but still partially at fault, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Example: Two drivers are in a crash and both contributed to the accident. Driver A was found to be 80 percent at fault, while Driver B was 20 percent at fault. If the courts award Driver B $100,000 in compensation, that will be reduced by 20 percent, allowing him or her to collect $80,000.
Types of Compensation in a Hawaii Car Accident Cases
In most cases, car accident victims in Hawaii can collect damages for medical expenses, lost income, rehabilitation costs and lost earning capacity. Damages for pain and suffering and vehicle repairs may also be available, among others.
In rare instances, the courts may also award punitive damages. These are meant to punish the defendant and deter them from behavior that is grossly negligent in the future.
When you hire Recovery Law Center, you will be working with a car accident attorney who knows how to put a full and fair value on a claim. Our mission is to ensure you receive the best outcome possible given the facts of the case.
Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Car Accident Claim
After a car accident, hiring a lawyer may seem like the last thing you want to do. It’s understandable. You’re in pain and overwhelmed. But you need to focus on protecting your legal rights as well.
Here are some of the most common mistakes that could damage your car accident claim:
- Failing to seek medical treatment: Your health should be your top priority after a crash. Failing to get medical treatment can hurt your claim. The insurance company will argue that you couldn’t have been seriously hurt because you didn’t get immediate medical care. In addition, your injuries could worsen without treatment, resulting in more lasting damage.
- Speaking to the insurance company: After an accident, you should never speak to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Their adjusters are trained in tactics that can be used to deny you the compensation you deserve. Examples include asking for a recorded statement, asking you to sign a medical release form to look for pre-existing conditions, and making quick and easy settlement offers. To protect yourself, never speak to them. Instead, direct them your car accident attorney.
- Posting on social media: After a crash, leave social media alone. Don’t post anything about the crash or your injuries. Insurance companies monitor those accounts to look for incriminating statements or photos. Even if your post has nothing to do with your crash, a picture of you attending a holiday party could be used that to say that your quality of life wasn’t diminished because you were able to celebrate with loved ones.
- Waiting too long to file your car accident claim: Remember the two-year statute of limitations on car accident claims in Hawaii. Don’t lose out on valuable compensation just because the clock runs out.
- Not speaking to an attorney: The best way individuals can protect their interests after a car accident is by speaking to a highly qualified and sympathetic attorney. If you don’t, you may not receive the settlement you deserve or could give up your rights to compensation unknowingly.
At the Recovery Law Center in Honolulu, your first consultation is free, with zero obligation. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain by contacting us for legal advice.
Contact a Hawaii Car Accident Lawyer Today
Knowing your rights after a car accident is crucial, especially in a no-fault state like Hawaii. If you’ve been hurt, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company or a lawsuit directly against the other driver. Attorney Glenn Honda can help you do it.
At Recovery Law Center, we are dedicated to helping car accident victims obtain the compensation that they are owed. We understand how a serious injury can change every aspect of your life, and we can help make you whole again.
Contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.