Hawaii offers picturesque landscapes and a vibrant cultural experience to locals and tourists alike. But even in paradise, accidents happen. Along with the physical pain that often accompanies an accidental injury, many of these events can also cause tremendous pain and suffering.
Hawaii law allows injured individuals to recover pain and suffering damages for emotional distress caused by an accident. However, determining an appropriate dollar amount for pain and suffering can be difficult. Everyone responds differently to an accident.
If your accident-related injuries left you with significant physical distress or mental anguish, you could be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. Get the support you need by speaking with a sympathetic pain and suffering lawyer at Recovery Law Center today.
For more than 25 years, our law firm has helped injured victims throughout The Aloha State to recover full and fair compensation after accidents caused by the carelessness of others. We understand that the devastation from an accident often extends far beyond physical and financial suffering.
Attorney Glenn Honda is committed to delivering compassionate yet aggressive legal services that are centered on getting victims the maximum compensation possible in their claims.
If you’re looking for efficient, effective legal services that demand the best results, call or contact our Honolulu pain and suffering lawyer today for a free consultation.
What Is Pain and Suffering After a Personal Injury?
Pain and suffering has a specific legal meaning in the context of a personal injury. It fits into a particular category of compensation known as “general damages.” These damages award money to victims for losses like physical distress, emotional pain, and disability.
Pain and suffering claims cover both the initial pain that accident victims feel in the moments after they sustain their injuries as well as their long-term pain and suffering. Physical pain, mental anguish, PTSD, perpetual physical rehab, or the ongoing need for psychological therapy after the accident all can be included in a successful award for pain and suffering.
Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages
If you’re considering a personal injury claim for your pain and suffering, it’s a good idea to understand the difference between economic and non-economic damages in Hawaii.
Also known as “special” or “specific” damages, economic damages refer to compensation that is awarded for real, quantifiable costs incurred by accident victims. Economic damages are based on actual dollar figures, so they can be calculated by adding up totals from things like medical bills, repair invoices, pay stubs, or prescription receipts.
These damages, also called “general” damages, compensate victims for the immaterial costs they suffer as a result of their injuries. Non-economic damages are subjective, so calculating the total value of damages available in a particular case can be tricky. Pain and suffering is an example of non-economic damages.
What Types of Accidents Can Result in Damages?
Recovery Law Center has handled thousands of claims in which pain and suffering is a central component. Some types of accidents that can include pain and suffering awards include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Defective products injuries
- Construction accidents
- School-related accidents
- Dog bites
- Nursing home abuse
- Medical malpractice
Limits on Pain and Suffering Damages in Hawaii
There are certain limits on pain and suffering in Hawaii. Here are the state’s restrictions on the compensation you can recover for your pain and suffering claim:
Two-Year Statute of Limitations
Most states have statutes of limitations for different legal actions, which is a formal time limit to file certain types of claims. For pain and suffering claims stemming from personal injuries, medical malpractice, or claims against the state, Hawaii has a two-year statute of limitations. This means that you have two years from the date of the incident that caused your pain and suffering to file a lawsuit. If you try to file after this deadline has passed, your case will likely be dismissed by the court.
A $375,000 Damages Cap
Because pain and suffering is so difficult to calculate, some states impose a cap on the number of monetary damages available to claimants. Personal injury claims in Hawaii are usually subject to a damages cap of $375,000 for pain and suffering unless they involve certain elements like multiple at-fault parties or intentional acts of harm.
Modified Comparative Negligence Doctrine
A state’s negligence doctrine is its legal framework for determining how an injured person’s own actions impact their ability to recover damages in a personal injury claim. Hawaii follows a doctrine of comparative negligence, which reduces the amount of compensation available to a claimant in proportion to his/her percentage of fault. As long as the injured person is less than 51 percent at fault for an accident in Hawaii, partial compensation is possible.
For example, if you were eligible to recover $10,000 for your pain and suffering claim but were found to be 20 percent at fault for your accident, then you would only be able to receive 80 percent of the compensation you were otherwise owed, or $8,000.
However, if you were more than 51 percent responsible, you would collect no money at all. Because the success of your case hinges on a single percentage point, it’s wise to hire a skilled personal injury attorney in Honolulu to protect your interests during settlement negotiations.
A No-Fault Car Insurance System
If you were hurt in a Hawaii car accident, the state’s no-fault auto insurance laws generally prevent car accident victims from recovering money for pain and suffering. However, if you meet certain injury thresholds set by the state, you may be able to file a third-party claim that opens the door for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.
Generally speaking, car accident victims are only allowed to file lawsuits against at-fault drivers if they suffered severe, permanent injuries or needed more than $5,000 in damages from their no-fault insurance policy.
Why Is Measuring Pain and Suffering So Difficult?
It’s possible for two people to sustain nearly identical injuries from similar accidents and still not experience the same levels of pain or suffering. An injury that one individual may cope with easily could be devastating to someone else because of relative differences in their physical health, mental wellness, or personal histories. This is why it’s so difficult to measure a person’s pain and suffering and assign it a specific dollar figure.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for courts to offer little guidance to jurors who are tasked with calculating how much financial compensation to offer injured victims for pain and suffering. Juries usually also consider a person’s relative age, their likelihood for recovery, and any preexisting conditions when calculating pain and suffering damages.
An Experienced Honolulu Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Today
Since pain and suffering damages are so challenging to quantify, it’s important to present a strong case supported by solid evidence if you wish to seek this type of compensation. You don’t have to worry about figuring out this dollar value alone. Get Recovery Law Center on your side.
With our help, you can rest assured that your pain and suffering claim is being handled by a professional legal team that puts your best interests first. We have won millions of dollars in compensation for injured people just like you on Oahu.