How Has Your Experience Been in Handling Auto Accident Claims?
I have been an attorney for over thirty-two years, and during that entire time, the percentage of my practice has significantly focused on automobile accidents. Our firm also handles personal injury law and death cases in general. About half of the injuries we handle are caused by automobile accidents.
What Are the Most Common Types of Auto Accident Claims that You Handle?
There are two common kinds of auto accidents that account for at least seventy-five percent of automobile injuries. One is intersection collisions. This is where one person has the right of way, but another person approaches the intersection anyway and may run a red light or a stop sign, thus causing a collision. Those can be very serious collisions depending on the speed of each vehicle. There have been many reports about to many T-bone collisions due to this kind of collision. Another type of accident is when one person is executing a left turn into oncoming traffic, and then the question becomes, who has the right of way. The other most common type is rear-ending collisions. This is usually due to a driver who is distracted and does not stop in time, and our client is struck from behind. Many of these injuries can cause a whiplash like injury. It can be very significant and possibly long term medical issues, which can exacerbate back and shoulder injuries too.
Is Hawaii a Fault or A No-Fault State?
Hawaii is a modified no fault state. What that means is a traditional state law would be whoever is at fault from the accident has to pay all the damages of the injured party, but no fault state would mean that each person is required to have insurance, and as is the case in all states, have their own mandatory insurance. Then this means their own insurance company will cover for any injuries that they received in the accident. Hawaii law is a compromise between these two. Hawaii law says that if you are injured in an accident, your insurance company will pay your medical bills up to a certain level, it is capped around $10,000. If the medical bills exceed that limit, then the other driver’s insurance company would have to pay, but only if that driver is at fault for the accident.
If you are injured in an accident due to someone else’s fault, you are not allowed to sue the other driver or make a claim against their insurance company unless your injury is so severe that your medical bills exceed $5,000. This is called a Tort Threshold. In other words, that is the threshold or lower limit of how large medical bills can cost, and how much treatment you will need before you may bring a claim against the other driver who caused the accident. The law makers in Hawaii did not want people using the court system over every minor injury. But remember if the injury is significant enough that you had to have extensive medical treatment, or the injuries sustained are permanent, and if it is determined to be a significant permanent injury as well regardless of the total of the medical bills, then you are eligible to proceed with a lawsuit.
In that case, we would have to make a claim against the insurance company or file a lawsuit if we cannot resolve the claim. The other driver’s insurance would have to pay the excess medical bills that have not been paid by the $10,000 no fault policy, as well as paying for the other damages including financial lawsuits, lost income, and of course pain and suffering, as well as any permanent effects the accident left on a person’s health, and daily living activities.
Does that Cover PIP Benefits?
PIP is known as Personal Injury Protection benefits. This is the same as no fault medical benefits. Everybody is required to have a policy that insures them for that basic level of medical care up to $10,000, and those are the PIP benefits. Regardless of whose fault this was, your own insurance company will take care of paying those medical bills up to the limit of that PIP policy.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for An Auto Accident Case in Hawaii?
The statute of limitations is two years for an auto accident, but it does not start at the beginning of the accident. It begins from the last date that your insurance company paid out those PIP benefits or medical bills on your behalf. When we receive a case we keep careful track of the payments made from the no fault insurance company, and assured of either to settle the case or file a lawsuit within those two years. Sometimes that can take as long as three to four years after an auto accident. Hawaii laws are pretty liberal in giving people plenty of time to file a claim against another driver. However, our law firm is aggressive enough that we usually get the case resolved well before that two year mark.
However, all injuries are different and may take longer than others. You need to follow through with all the required medical treatment, and give your body time to heal. We like to wait until a doctor can verify that the person has reached the state of maximum medical improvement, which means they will not improve anymore then what the physician has reported. This gives us a chance to show the insurance company what we are dealing with in terms of any long-term or permanent life-altering injuries.
For more information on Auto Accident Claims in Hawaii, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling today.