Hawaii is extraordinary for many reasons: the scenery, the tourism, and of course, the fabulous Kona coffee. It’s also one of the rare states to employ “no fault” laws in car accidents, which could greatly affect your ability to recover fair car accident compensation after an accident if you are a resident of a Hawaii or a tourist with a rental car. Though you won’t be doing much driving on Kaho?olawe, if you are involved in an accident on one of the larger islands, this information should come in handy.
This article includes a chart laying out Hawaii's car accident compensation laws along with detailed explanations of those laws.
Statute of Limitations
Two years for personal injuries and property damages (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-7)
Modified Comparative Fault (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 663-31)
"No Fault" and "Modified Comparative Fault" Rules in Hawaii
Hawaii is one of the few jurisdictions that employs a "no fault" car insurance and accident compensation system. Car accident claims are filed and processed through your own insurance first, and it is your insurance that covers personal injury and property (car) damage claims, up to your policy limit, regardless of fault.
However, if the injuries are severe and permanent, you can file a claim against the other driver, and if necessary, a lawsuit. Further, if your personal injury or property damage exceeds your policy limits, you may also be able to recover the difference from either the other driver or her insurance company.
Keep in mind though that fault will matter for claims against the other party. Hawaii is a "modified comparative negligence" (often referred to as "modified comparative fault") state. A party can only recover damages if he is less at fault than the other party. Fault is measured by percentages which are calculated by the judge or jury after a trial (assuming the claim doesn’t settle first): fault of 50% or more prohibits that party from recovering.
This also operates to limit damage recovery. For example, a person 40% at fault will only recover 60% of his damages.
Types of Damages
Common types of damages that result from car accidents include:
Car accident damages are often classified as economic damages or non-economic damages. Economic damages may include past and future medical expenses, lost income, and other calculable out-of-pocket expenses, while non-economic damages cover things like pain, emotional distress, and disability or disfigurement.
Limits on Damages
The first question most attorneys will ask is, “When was the car accident?” This is because there is a time limit (Statute of Limitations) for filing your case. In Hawaii, that limit is two years for auto accidents. Other than the time limit and comparative fault rules, there are no caps on damages in car accident claims.
Get Help from a Hawaii Attorney
Your car accident claim might be as simple as filing a claim with your policy. Or it could involve insurance claims, lawsuits, and arguments over fault that could bar your claim entirely. With Hawaii’s unique car accident compensation laws possibly limiting your claims if they aren't handled correctly, it's imperative that you discuss your case with an experienced car accident attorney.
Contact a qualified attorney.