Did your loved one recently pass away after a fatal accident in Hawaii? If so, you may be able to recover compensation by filing a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death in Hawaii can occur due to car crashes, medical malpractice, work accidents, recreational incidents, and more. These sudden and devastating losses affect families both emotionally and financially, especially when they are caused by another’s irresponsible actions.
At Recovery Law Center, we’ve helped many families seek justice for the loss of a loved one on Oahu by obtaining compensation from the at-fault party(s). While money can’t undo a tragedy, it can allow your family to grieve without worrying about the financial stress that often accompanies the loss of a family member.
A compassionate and knowledgeable Honolulu wrongful death attorney from Recovery Law Center can provide you with support and sound legal advice during this difficult time. Call or contact us to schedule a free consultation.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
If a loved one recently died due to someone’s negligence, you have legal rights as a surviving family member. When a reckless or an intentional action costs someone their life, the responsible party could owe the family of the victim significant compensation. This will typically be recovered through a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death claims are not criminal cases. A criminal case might be brought by the state or federal government. With these types of cases, the prosecutor may seek charges of involuntary manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, or murder. Consequences of a criminal case might include prison time, fines, or probation for the defendant(s).
At Recovery Law Center, we file civil cases for wrongful death. A civil lawsuit seeks compensation from someone whose negligence led to your loved one’s death. A Hawaii wrongful death attorney will represent the interests of the deceased person’s family. The accused party can hire their own attorney as well.
In a civil case, the person or entity at fault does not face jail time or probation. Instead, the family suing on behalf of their relative seeks financial compensation for their losses. If you and your attorney can successfully prove that the defendant acted recklessly, then compensation will be awarded by reaching a settlement out of court or by taking the case to trial.
Most Honolulu wrongful death claims can be resolved through a settlement. However, if a fair agreement cannot be reached, Attorney Glenn Honda won’t hesitate to take the case to trial and fight for what’s right.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Hawaii?
The following people can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their loved one in Hawaii:
- The surviving spouse
- A reciprocal beneficiary (e.g., someone in a domestic partnership arrangement)
- The decedent’s children
- The decedent’s mother or father
- Any other financial dependent of the decedent
Like all states, there is a time limit on how long families have to file for wrongful death in Hawaii. Generally, you must file within two years from the date of the person’s death.
Despite the two-year window, it’s smart to speak with a wrongful death attorney well before that deadline. Your lawyer will need evidence to prove your case for compensation. The longer the time between the death and the legal action, the more difficult it can be to track down crucial evidence and witnesses.
How to Prove Wrongful Death
In Hawaii wrongful death cases, you must prove that the at-fault party was negligent in order to receive compensation.
Several factors must be shown to prove negligence:
- Duty: First, you need to identify that the reckless party owed the decedent a “duty of care.” This duty will be different in every case. For example, if a family member was killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, the intoxicated driver had duty to drive responsibly, as any reasonable driver would.
- Breach: Once the duty is established, you have to show that it was violated, or breached. Continuing the drunk driving example, you’d need to prove that the driver acted negligently. This can happen by obtaining evidence of their intoxication. For instance, video surveillance showing the driver stumbling out of a bar and driving off in their car is not something that a reasonable person would do. This would constitute a breach of duty.
- Causation: Once you prove that the defendant breached their duty, you must establish that the breach directly caused your loved one’s death. This is typically not difficult to show in a drunk driving case. However, if your relative was also intoxicated or driving erratically at the time of the crash, it may be argued that your family member was responsible for his/her death as well.
- Damages: If you’re able to prove that the defendant’s negligent actions caused your loved one’s death, you’ll have to prove damages as well. “Damages” is a legal term referring to all the ways you’ve been harmed, both financially and emotionally. To prove damages, you can show provide copies of hospital bills, burial expenses, and other accident-related costs. Non-economic damages cover your emotional harm, such as pain and suffering or loss of companionship.
Proving liability can be challenging, particularly in instances where the fault is disputed. This is why it’s important to hire an experienced attorney. A wrongful death lawyer in Hawaii knows what’s necessary to fully investigate your case, identify all liable parties, and prove they caused your loved one’s death.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims in Hawaii
Fatal accidents in Hawaii can occur for a wide variety of reasons. Some common causes of fatal accidents include:
- Vehicle collisions: Driving is a necessity for daily life for most Hawaiians. But in the blink of an eye, someone’s negligence can have tragic consequences. Speeding, driving under the influence, and distracted driving can all result in wrongful death claims.
- Boating accidents: The Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by over 1,000 miles of coastline, so it’s no surprise that boating is a popular activity for both locals and tourists. But safely operating a boat requires a certain level of skill and experience. Carelessness can cause catastrophic injuries and death. Boat accidents in Hawaii are frequently caused by speeding, navigating in poor weather conditions, failing to carry the proper safety equipment, and overloading the vessel.
- Snorkeling and scuba diving accidents: Hawaii’s pristine waters make it easy to enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving, but these activities come with inherent risks. Victims of scuba diving and snorkeling accidents may drown or suffer oxygen deprivation. These accidents may be caused by inadequate training, faulty equipment, failure to assess whether it’s safe to dive, snorkeling in high traffic areas, and improper supervision.
- Helicopter accidents: Helicopter tours are a popular activity for admiring Hawaii’s beauty from above. But as with any type of flying, there are risks involved. Helicopter crashes are frequently caused by flying in unsafe weather, improper training, faulty equipment, failure to properly inspect the helicopter, and piloting the aircraft while under the influence. In these cases, the pilot and/or the company employing the pilot (as well as others) could potentially be held liable for the death.
- Truck crashes: Big rigs, 18-wheelers, and other commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. As a result, truck collisions are more likely to cause catastrophic injury or death compared to typical vehicle collisions. Common causes of truck accidents include driver fatigue, improper training, overloading, faulty parts, and failure to properly maintain or inspect the truck before driving.
- Medical malpractice: Every day, people trust their doctors to perform safe, high-quality medical procedures. But when healthcare professionals fail to meet the standard of care, this can result in death. Examples of medical negligence include improperly performed surgery, failure to diagnose diseases such as cancer, misdiagnoses, and medication errors.
- Slip and fall accidents: Slip and fall accidents happen when you least expect them: walking through a parking lot, heading down the sidewalk, or even walking through a store. While property owners and local municipalities have a duty to maintain safe walking areas, they don’t always do so. What seems like a minor head injury after a slip and fall accident can rapidly evolve into a fatal traumatic brain injury.
- Workplace accidents: Those who work in dangerous professions, such as construction or manufacturing, face more risks in the workplace. But that doesn’t excuse employers from failing to provide a safe working environment. Fatal work accidents are typically caused by faulty industrial equipment, scaffolding collapses, hazardous chemicals, unsafe conditions, and improper training.
What Types of Wrongful Death Compensation May Be Available?
According to Hawaii’s wrongful death statute §663-3, those filing a wrongful death lawsuit may be entitled to compensation for general damages and special damages.
Special damages are any economic losses, such as:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical costs related to the incident, such as emergency care, hospitalization and surgeries
- Loss of future income
- General damages are non-economic losses. This includes psychological suffering, such as:
- Loss of companionship, comfort, and consortium on behalf of a surviving spouse
- Loss of marital care and attention
- Loss of care and affection on behalf of a domestic partner
- Loss of parental care and affection on behalf of the decedent’s children or dependents
- Any other pain and suffering on behalf of the family member(s) filing the wrongful death lawsuit
When you’re in pain, you need a Honolulu wrongful death attorney who will work to meet your needs financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Turn to Recovery Law Center. We provide aggressive legal representation without compromising compassion in Honolulu.
When to Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer
Although the deadline for filing wrongful death claims in Hawaii is generally two years from the date of death, there are cases when the time limit may be extended.
For example, if the wrongful death was caused by medical negligence, then the deadline is:
- Two years from the date of death, or
- Two years from the date you discovered that the death was caused by negligence
If your Hawaii wrongful death case is against a government entity, the deadline could be even shorter. This is why it’s so important to contact a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible.
An experienced Hawaii wrongful death attorney will know exactly which local and federal laws apply to your case. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner he/she can review your case and determine if you have a valid wrongful death claim.
How Can Recovery Law Center Help Me?
When you choose Recovery Law Center to handle your Hawaii wrongful death case, you can expect:
- No upfront fees: We understand that it’s difficult for most families to pay for legal services at the start, which is why we accept cases on a contingency fee basis. Under this fee arrangement, we only get paid if we recover compensation on your behalf.
- A quarter-century of experience: Recovery Law Center is led by attorney Glenn Honda, who has been helping victims with personal injury and wrongful death claims for over 25 years. You can expect the highest standard of legal knowledge and litigation experience from the moment your case opens until case closed.
- An understanding team: In the aftermath of losing a loved one, you need a legal team that understands the unique challenges you’re facing. We will take the time to listen to your questions and concerns. We’ll create a personalized legal strategy that is tailored to meet your needs.
- Open communication: We understand how devastated you feel. We are committed to returning your phone calls and emails as soon as possible so that you know that your case is always getting the attention it deserves.
It costs nothing to learn your legal rights, yet you stand so much to gain. Contact a Honolulu wrongful death attorney at Recovery Law Center today for a free consultation.