Boating, Shipping, Ocean, Maritime accidents
Hawaii Personal injury Lawyer
Shipping, Boating & Diving Accidents, Drownings, Unseaworthy
William H. Lawson, Attorney at Law
1188 Bishop St.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone: (808) 524-5300 New Client Hotline
Phone: (808) 528-2525 Main Business Line
- Deadlines: The deadline for filing a claim arising out of
water-related accident in court can be difficult to determine. Similar
situations may have very different deadlines for filing. Some claims
are state law claims and generally follow Hawaii's two (2) year statute
of limitations. Other claims for maritime personal injury or death fall
under federal maritime law which generally has a three (3) year statute
of limitations. 46 USC Appendix section 763a Even under federal
law, however, the deadline may be different. Claims against the United
States, for example, have a two (2) year statute of limitations
46 U.S.C. section 741, 781 In short it is best to promptly investigate
and assert any claim which you think you may have- and to obtain legal
assistance in determining any filing deadlines which may apply.
Investigation of a water related accident claim can be difficult and costly. Nonetheless, a
timely investigation of all available evidence related to the case may be critical to a favorable outcome.
Photos and videos of relevant conditions (the inside and the outside of the vessel, the danger giving rise to the accident, the activities being carried on in the area of the accident, etc.), the area(s) where the injuries and damages were sustained and the injuries and damages themselves may prove invaluable in proving up an accident claim to a claims adjuster, a judge or a jury. Photographic documentation of the accident should be done as soon as possible.
Generally, cases involving water related accidents include a very complicated hodge-podge of traditional maritime and other water related
(and often inconsistent) doctrines and claims. (It is probably so complicated because it has been around so long that Congress has often revisited this area of law to simplify and clarify it.)
In spite of the Federal Courts' so-called "exclusive jurisdiction" over
admiralty claims, most water-related accidents have one or more causes
of action which can be brought under state law. Often state law is the
most promising avenue for recovery. Sometimes there is more than one
state where the action can be brought (and occasionally more than one
country). Selecting the correct forum in which to pursue this type of
claim is very important.
- Longshore and harbor workers are generally covered for work
related injuries by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation
Act. This act provides benefits similar to the federal worker's
compensation program, which benefits are also administered by the
federal Office of Worker's Compensation Programs (OWCP). Although
claims against the employer are barred (in most circumstances) because
of the availability of LSHWCA coverage, there may still be claims for
recovery against a third party who is independently responsible for
the injuries and loss.
Seamen (the crew of ocean going vessels) generally are covered by the
Jones Act. This provides medical and sustinence payments
called "maintenance and cure" to partially cover medical expenses
and wage loss after an injury. The Jones Act also provides a cause of
action for personal injuries caused by negligence or the unseaworthiness
of a vessel. Contributory negligence (even on a large scale) is not a
bar to such a claim, but only reduces the amount of any damage award on
a pro-rata basis.
Various Water Related Accidents involving Hawaii
Some of the recent water related cases here in the state
of Hawaii include the following:
Serious ear injuries from a Snuba dive off of a specially equiped boat moored on Oahu on May 8, 1994. (Snuba differs from scuba in that the divers do not have tanks on their backs, but instead they share a common air supply floating on the surface through air hoses.)
McClenahan v. Paradise Cruises, Ltd., 888 F.Supp. 120, 1995 A.M.C. 1899 (D. Hawaii, May 19, 1995)
The death of a body surfer when hit by a cruise ship while bodysurfing at Point Panic, near Kewalo Basin in Honolulu on June 19, 1984. Stone v. Paradise Holdings, Inc. 619 F.Supp. 21, 1985 A.M.C. 1749 (D. Hawaii Dec 26, 1984), 795 F.2d 756, 55 USLW 2100, 1987 A.M.C. 104 (9th Cir. (Hawaii) Jul 25, 1986), cert denied, 479 U.S. 1008, 107 S.Ct. 649, 93 L.Ed.2d 704 (Dec 08, 1986).
The death of a professional hard-hat diver in
in 35 feet of water in Hilo Harbor on August 10, 1972.
Holland v. Healy Tibbitts Const. Co., 379 F.Supp. 192 (D. Hawaii, Jul 24, 1974)
- Our office charges on a CONTINGENCY FEE basis in accident
cases which we accept. There is NO CHARGE for an initial consultation
to evaluate your case. E-mail us or call us at (808) 524-5300 or
(808) 528-2525 if you have any more questions.
- If you believe that you may have a claim of this type,
please take a few moments to visit with a paralegal to outline the
nature of your claim. Thank you!
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Hawaii Personal Injury and Accident Law News and Cases
On June 29, 2015, the Hawaii Supreme Court rendered its decision in the case of St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. Co. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance, Hi. Sup. Ct. Case No SCCQ-14-0000727 (June 29, 2015). This case arose out of a wrongful death personal injury case handled by this office which resulted in a $4.1 million verdict in favor of our clients - even though Liberty Mutual, the primary liability insurer, never offered anything even close to its policy limits of $1 million. St. Paul - who had to pay our clients everything recovered in excess of the initial $1 million - claimed that Liberty Mutual committed bad faith towards it by failing to settle within its $1 million policy limits. The Hawaii Supreme Court agreed and found that an excess insurer has claims for bad faith against a primary insurer.