3 Important Reasons to Speak With an Auto Accident Attorney
Dec. 29, 2022
Traffic fatalities on the highways and roadways of Hawaii totaled 94 in 2021, up from 85 the year before, with the trend continuing into 2022 and on pace for about 120 highway deaths, according to the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT).
Further, analysis by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the cause of these fatalities shows that 46 percent of the deaths are caused by impaired driving (alcohol or drug use) and 48 percent by speeding drivers.
When you venture out from your home or place of work on a routine transit route, or you head off on a weekend day to go shopping or spend a day at the beach, you never expect to be involved in an automobile collision, but accidents do happen, usually when you least expect them.
What happens if you or your passenger are injured in an auto crash? Under Hawaii’s no-fault auto insurance laws, you must seek recovery of your medical expenses from the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) provision of your own auto policy. However, if your expenses rise above $5,000 or your injuries are severe enough, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Unless you’re involved in a minor fender-bender resulting in a skin scratch or two, it is advisable to not handle the situation on your own when seeking compensation for your injuries, especially if the medical costs are high or the injuries are severe. Property damage, of course, is always the responsibility of the at-fault driver, but injuries present different criteria and options for recovering damages.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident in Maui, Hawaii, contact the car accident and personal injury attorneys at Ranken, Shnider & Taylor, Attorneys at Law. We have been helping clients since 1989 recover compensation for their injuries.
We will meet with you and advise you of your best options and handle all your insurance claims and initiate a personal injury lawsuit when necessary. While you physically recover, we will handle your claim for you.
Reasons to Speak With an Auto Accident Attorney
The first reason to contact an auto accident/personal injury attorney after your injuries is to assess the best route for recovering compensation for your injuries and suffering. Your insurance policy’s PIP provision will cover your medical and related expenses only up to the cap on your policy, which is generally $10,000. This is the case with auto insurance laws in the dozen or so no-fault states in the Union, including Hawaii.
Unless you personally have experience dealing with your insurance company’s claims adjusters, it can be challenging to get the compensation you deserve. They have an arsenal of tricks to get you to say or admit to something so they can lowball your settlement. Let your attorney field their questions and requests.
The second reason is to determine if you can file a personal injury lawsuit. You can move beyond the PIP pay back only if your expenses rise above $5,000, as mentioned earlier, or if your injuries are severe, which usually means they have resulted in permanent disfigurement or the loss of vital bodily functions or body parts.
If you can and do file a lawsuit, you are eligible to recover non-economic and economic damages. PIP pays only for direct economic damages such as medical and rehabilitative expenses. In a personal injury lawsuit, the horizon widens to include not only the pain and suffering your experience, but also the loss of companionship – called consortium – that may have resulted.
The third reason regards the subtleties and power of negotiating tactics. A strategic attorney has an abundance of broad experience in negotiations.
Let’s face the facts of insurance company practices. Your first settlement offer will invariably be on the low side. If you accept it, you’re stuck. Settlements are final, and you can’t go back and ask for more if your injuries resurface. Let your attorney handle the claims adjusters and negotiate for the best possible settlement, taking into account even future needs.
Choosing an Auto Accident Attorney
Attorneys are not all equally adept at or experienced in an auto accident and personal injury claims. The attorney who drafted your living trust for you may have no particular skills or experience in seeking compensation for injuries ensuing from a car crash. So, you need to find an attorney or law group whose focus is on personal injury claims and especially those resulting from accidents on the highways.
You also may want to question who will handle your claim, the attorney or a legal assistant. Some firms will shuffle off your case to a paralegal after the initial consultation. This may or may not result in the best possible outcome, but you definitely want an attorney who will be closely involved even if assistants are doing the bulk of the paperwork and other tasks.
If there is a lawsuit on the horizon, you want to make sure your attorney is battled tested in a court of law. Though most lawsuits result in out-of-court settlements, you still want to be sure that your attorney is ready to go on the offensive for you in a courtroom and has done so for others in the past.
Get Trusted Legal Guidance
Don’t brush off your injuries and figure it’s a simple matter of contacting your insurance company. True, insurers are liable to cover your medical expenses and lost wages resulting from your injuries, but only after trying to lowball your settlement.
Contact us immediately following an accident in which you or a loved one has been injured. Let us deal with the insurers and if necessary, file a personal injury lawsuit. Ranken, Shnider & Taylor, Attorneys at Law, proudly serve clients throughout Maui, Hawaii. Let us fight for the compensation you deserve while you recover from your injuries.