Car & Auto Accidents

Practice AreaCar & Auto Accidents

Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer in Hawaii

Personal Injury Attorney Honolulu

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident in Hawaii, we would be honored to consult with you about your situation. It is important to get the advice of an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney promptly. Otherwise there may be important evidence which is lost due to the passage of time. We have been representing the victims of serious injuries and wrongful death resulting from car accidents and other motor vehicle accidents for over 30 years. We would be happy to assist you.

Motor Vehicle Accidents in Hawaii

Minimum Insurance Coverages

Hawaii is a “no fault” state. That means that all drivers of motor vehicles are required by law to maintain insurance coverages applicable to their vehicles under Hawaii law. The minimums differ depending upon the particular vehicle involved. For most cars, trucks and buses, the minimum PIP no-fault coverage for medical expenses is $10,000.00 and the minimum bodily injury (BI) liability coverage for injuries caused to others is $20,000.00. These coverages are required by Hawaii law and generally should be available to help to compensate a person for loss as the result of negligent operation of the vehicle. (Optional additional coverages may also be available.).

General information about Motor Vehicle Accident claims in Hawaii

If you have suffered injuries or loss as the result of an auto accident in Hawaii, you will probably want to obtain and fill out a No Fault (Personal Injury Protection) benefits application form from the insurance company for the car with which you were most closely connected (the car in which you were riding if you were in a car or the car that impacted you if you were a pedestrian or a bicyclist). No Fault (PIP) usually provides medical coverage for injuries arising out of the use, maintenance or operation of a motor vehicle in Hawaii and it may also provide various other coverages (wage loss, substitute services, funeral benefits, etc.)

In Hawaii at present you generally must have at least $5,000 in medical expenses actually paid out by the No Fault (PIP) insurer before you can recover for pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, consequential damages, wage loss in excess of that paid by No Fault (PIP) and various other losses caused by a motor vehicle accident. However, there are also a few other situations in which recovery for these additional losses may be possible, even without reaching the $5,000.00 in medical expenses paid out by the PIP carrier. These situations include (1) accidents arising out of conduct for which punitive damages could be awarded, (2) accidents resulting in death, (3) accidents causing permanent loss of use of a part or function of the body, (4) accidents giving rise to permanent serious disfigurement which causes mental suffering, and (5) accidents in which the No Fault (PIP) benefits are exhausted. There are also a few other situations in which such a recovery may be possible.

Deadlines to file Car Accident claims in Hawaii

The deadline for filing a lawsuit in court in Hawaii to make claims for injuries arising out of a motor vehicle accident is generally two (2) years from the date of the accident – or, if PIP no-fault payments, worker’s compensation or public assistance medical benefit payments have been made, then two (2) years from the date of the last such payment, whichever is later. It should be noted, however, that there are exceptions to this rule, for example, claims against the State of Hawaii should be filed within two (2) years of the date of the accident regardless of whether or not no fault, worker’s compensation or public assistance medical benefit payments have been made. You must file your claims in court prior to the expiration of the applicable deadline, or your claims may be lost regardless of their merit. To be wise it is recommended that you contact an experienced and qualified attorney with an excellent track record promptly after an accident occurs, rather that waiting until the time to file a claim has almost expired. The contingency fees will usually be the same with immediate representation as for delayed representation. The attorney can help you to preserve important evidence that will be lost with the passage of time. If you are interested in finding out more, please do not hesitate to:

  • A 19 year old Virginia woman recently obtained a settlement of $11 million after suffering brain injuries and a severely injured hip in a motor vehicle accident in Pennsylvania. The responsible driver’s employer and its insurer agreed to the settlement for the woman, but also wanted to keep their names confidential as part of the settlement. Extensive medical evaluation costing tens of thousands of dollars was necessary in order to establish the nature and extent of future disability in order to successfully resolve the personal injury claim. (This is often the case.)
  • In 2009 a Kaua’i jury returned a $1.8 million verdict for a woman who received multiple serious injuries and disfigurement in a Kauai car accident which occurred about 2005 in Hanalei. The woman was riding as a passenger on a motorcycle when she was struck and dragged by a speeding motorist. The accident had previously received media attention when the motorist was allowed to plead out to a petty misdemeanor DUI charge after the prosecution accidentally failed to bring felony negligent injury charges in the DUI case. After the accident, with the help of her personal injury attorney, the woman has been able to complete her GED and she now works as a literacy tutor. Wilson v. Say, Fifth Cir. Court of Hawai’i (March, 2009)
  • In Lealaimatafao v. Woodward Clyde Consultants, (February 11, 1994), the Hawaii Supreme Court held that the significant other for 19 years and the hanai child of a wrongful death victim have wrongful death rights as a “dependent” of the decedent even if not legally related to nor receiving financial support from the decedent. A “relational” basis of dependency was deemed sufficient. Moreover, for those who qualify – loss of companionship, love and affection is now recoverable as well as pecuniary loss.