Hawaii Personal Injury Law:
What Is Personal Injury?
In Hawaii, a person who suffers an injury due to the negligence of another person or party may have what is commonly referred to in Hawaii law as a personal injury claim. A personal injury claim is the right to receive compensation from a person, insurance or other company for a negligent act involving an incident such as an auto accident, slip-and-fall, dog bite, nursing home accident, or construction accident that causes serious injuries to the victim.
The compensation received by the injured victim as part of a personal injury case is referred to in the legal system as "damages". Hawaii law lays out numerous different types of damages available to an injured victim in a personal injury case. Examples of damages authorized by Hawaii law include compensation for: medical expenses, lost wages, and pain-and-suffering.
Valuing A Hawaii Personal Injury Case:
The value of a personal injury claim is nearly impossible to predict at the outset of a case. Aside from a negotiated settlement with the insurance company, the only way a value will be determined is if the case is resolved by an arbitrator at arbitration or by a jury at trial.
If an attorney attempts to value your personal injury case at your first meeting, you may want to consult a different attorney. The value of any given personal injury claim is determined only by the specific facts and circumstances of the claim. Also, the amount of money available to a victim of negligence may be limited if the negligent party is uninsured or underinsured. (See our Uninsured Motorist Claims page for more details.)
Dealing With An Insurance Company:
When an accident occurs, the negligent party's insurance company acts quickly. While the injured victim is experiencing pain and discomfort, the insurance company takes full advantage of the victim's vulnerability. Likewise, we recommend an accident victim act quickly as well in order to fully understand their rights and the process of dealing with the insurance companies.
A victim can expect to receive calls, letters, and sometimes personal visits from the adjuster assigned to the claim by the insurance company. The purpose of these inquiries is to obtain as much information about the claim as possible. Such information is utilized by the adjuster to set aside an estimate of the value of the case. This estimate is called a “claims reserve”.
In most personal injury cases, it takes several months to fully and accurately diagnose the injuries sustained in an accident. Additionally, the victim may not know how the accident happened or may be uncertain regarding details related to the accident.
For these reasons, we do not recommend clients speak to the insurance company representing an at-fault party under any circumstances or for any reason. Clients may be required to provide a statement, as well as medical releases to their own insurance company if the client seeks to obtain short-term benefits such as personal injury protection (PIP) or Med-Pay. However, there is no legal requirement to provide any information, or even speak to,the negligent party's insurance company.
Personal Injury Litigation In Hawaii:
Once a client has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) or if insurance policy limits become insufficient to fully compensate the client for their damages, a settlement demand may be submitted or a lawsuit filed. The decision to submit a settlement demand or pursue a lawsuit will depend on timing as well as the negotiations between the parties.
Timing considerations in a personal injury lawsuit are very important. Hawaii maintains a very strict statute of limitations that require the injured victim to file a lawsuit prior to a certain deadline imposed under Hawaii law. If the lawsuit is not filed by the deadline, the injured victim loses his or her personal injury claim and is unable to collect damages. The statute of limitations in personal injury cases varies depending on the type of personal injury claim involved.
Personal Injury Representation On All Hawaiian Islands:
If you or a loved one has a personal injury claim related to an accident on any of the Hawaiian Islands – Oahu, Maui, Big Island (Hawaii County), Molokai, Lanai, or Kauai – attorney Jeffrey Foster is available for a free initial consultation. You may contact us by completing the “Contact Our Firm” box to the right or by calling/texting our office at (808) 348-7800. We look forward to speaking with you.