After an automobile accident, there are several immediate steps which should be considered. Many accidents are fortunately quite minor in nature and are easily dealt with. An attorney is not generally needed in the aftermath of a minor accident. However there are certain procedures that should always be considered after an accident has occurred:
- Note the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses. This is especially important since the police recently stopped making detailed police reports on many accidents in Hawaii.
- Inform the police of the accident if it is substantial or where there are any injuries.
- Identify the driver of the other vehicle and who the owner of the vehicle as well, if possible.
- Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance company info and license numbers.
- Note a description of each vehicle, including year, make, model, color and damage sustained. This latter point can be very important take photos if at all possible.
- Note the exact location of the collision and how it happened take photos if at all possible or make a diagram if you can.
- If you are injured or believe you may show injuries later request an ambulance or otherwise obtain competent medical assistance. Encourage others to do so as well.
- If serious injuries resulted from the accident, consider preserving the auto/automobile and other vehicles to the extent possible for photographing and inspection by an expert in accident reconstruction.
- Report the accident to your insurer when you get home.
- If serious injuries resulted from the accident, consider taking photographs and videotape of the injuries and their effects a day or two after the accident and thereafter, as appropriate to preserve evidence of the extent of the injuries for later use.
Unfortunately, some auto accidents are severe in nature and serious injuries or death may result. Under such circumstances especially if someone else was responsible for the accident you may wish to consider making a personal injury claim. Under such circumstances you may wish to:
Contact Car Accident Attorney Hawaii now for a free evaluation of your case.
Automobile Insurance Information
There are various types of insurance coverage related to personal injury accident claims. For an overview of the types of coverage, please click here:
Having motor vehicle insurance is required by Hawaii state law when owning a motor vehicle in Hawaii. Hawaii state law requires that each vehicle be insured and that a valid Hawaii motor vehicle insurance identification card be carried in the motor vehicle at all times. An operator can be ticketed and fined if operating a vehicle without the required motor vehicle identification card.
If one doesn’t have insurance on a motor vehicle, one is required to surrender the registration certificate and license plates to the county director of finance. And when that occurs, of course, the vehicle is not supposed to be driven.
Hawaii is a no fault state, which in Hawaii means a motor vehicle insurance company is generally required to pay the medical bills for injuries arising out of a motor vehicle accident up to the personal injury protection benefits (“PIP”) limit. However, in many cases, where there are wage loss, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and/or other additional damages, Hawaii’s no fault law prevents one from suing unless there are serious injuries. Because “no fault” applies to medical expenses and injuries only, not to vehicles or property, a driver at fault in an accident is still responsible for damages to vehicle and property.
Even the minimum motor vehicle insurance policy in Hawaii must have coverage of $10,000 per person in personal injury benefits. This coverage is for paying medical and rehabilitative costs.
The mandatory auto coverages also include a $20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident bodily injury liability and a $10,000 per occurrence property damage liability. These cover damages for an injured party when a person covered under the policy is at fault in an accident.
Optional auto coverages and options include: collision and comprehensive, uninsured (“UM”) and underinsured (“UIM”) coverages, wage loss, alternative care (including healing methods such as naturopathy, acupuncture and faith healing), death benefits (coverage range from $25,000 to $100,000), funeral benefits, (the coverage is $2,000), PIP deductible and PIP managed care.
An insurance agent or company selling auto insurance must also advise a purchaser about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage options. These may be declined in writing. One may purchase at a minimum $20,000 per person uninsured motorist coverage to pay for serious injury or death of an insured under the policy with the coverage (or a resident family member), if the driver at fault does not have insurance or in case of a hit and run accident. One may also purchase a minimum $20,000 per person underinsured motorist coverage to pay for the losses to an insured under the policy (or a resident family member) if the driver at fault does not have enough insurance. Accident Lawyer Hawaii recommends that these coverages always be obtained. An insurance company or insurance agent can help you decide on the best coverages for your individual situation and needs but it should be noted that UM and UIM coverages are an important coverage which a policyholder buys to protect his/her own family.
Some recent cases related to Auto Insurance and Coverages
Dacanay v. Liberty Mutual Insurance, February 9, 2005 Hawaii’s Intermediate Court of Appeals holds that in a no fault medical fee dispute before the insurance commissioner, a no fault insurer can waive its insured’s failure to join the medical care providers as the “real party in interest” and that when this occurs the commissioner may award attorneys fees and costs of the proceeding to the insured.