Helping Hawaii’s Motor Vehicle Accident Victims
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of injury in Hawaii. Each year, thousands of our residents and visitors are seriously injured on our roads. These accidents include automobile, truck, bus, motorcycle, moped, bicycle and pedestrian accidents. Often, drunk driving is to be blamed for such catastrophes.
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is important that you understand your basic legal rights in order to protect yourself and your family. I am attorney Jan Weinberg. At my law firm, Law Offices of Jan M. Weinberg, I can help you if you were injured in an accident.
Understanding How No-Fault Insurance Works
Hawaii is a “no-fault” jurisdiction for motor vehicle accidents. This does not mean that no party will be held accountable for a collision. It simply means that the insurance company for the owner of the vehicle in which the injured person is a driver or passenger is responsible for payment of the first $10,000 in medical bills. This amount is owed by the insurance company for the vehicle’s owner regardless of any fault on the part of any motorist.
Most vehicle owners in Hawaii are insured for $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP). Optional PIP coverage of up to $100,000 is also available so that the coverage for your medical bills is always assured.
Pedestrians, bicyclists and moped operators are also covered under the no-fault insurance of the vehicle involved in the accident without any requirement that the injured person prove the negligence of the vehicle’s driver.
In order to have a legal claim against the party responsible for your injuries, you must have $5,000 in medical bills paid by the no-fault insurance company. There are exceptions to this requirement, for example, a motor vehicle accident resulting in death where the responsible party was driving under the influence of alcohol. With today’s high cost of medical care, the bill for one visit to an emergency room is over $5,000.
What To Do After A Motor Vehicle Accident
If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision, keep in mind the following suggestions of what to do after a crash.
- Obtain complete identifying information on the adverse party, including full legal name, current address, telephone and cellphone numbers, employer details, auto insurance company’s details and policy number. Exchange driver’s licenses and no-fault cards.
- Request the names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident or its aftermath. You will find that, unfortunately, the police do not necessarily make a record of this information.
- If you have any doubts about the severity of your injuries, accept or request an ambulance for a trip to the emergency room. The Queen’s Medical Center probably is the best equipped of the hospitals in Oahu to provide emergency treatment.
- If possible, be accurate in describing the collision and your injuries to the police and to the ambulance crew. You may be asked to complete a written report by the police. If you are inaccurate in describing the collision, then your statement can and will be used in a subsequent lawsuit to impeach your credibility. Do the best you can to be accurate under the stressful conditions following an accident.
- The same advice applies to your medical treatment, beginning with the ambulance and including all health care providers who request a description of the accident and the symptoms you claim to be suffering as a result.
- Notify the no-fault insurance company of the accident and your injuries. Be as complete as possible in describing your injuries. Also, you should notify your private health plan that you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident. If your medical bills exceed the PIP limits of $10,000, the benefits under your health plan become available. You should avoid having your health plan pay any of the first $10,000 in medical bills. If this occurs, as it often does, the mistake can be corrected between the health plan and no-fault insurer.
- Do not provide a written or recorded statement to any insurance company without consulting with an attorney. Although a written application for no-fault benefits is required, the form requests only basic information. You should nevertheless consult with a personal injury lawyer, especially if you feel that you have suffered significant bodily injuries.
- The Hawaii statute of limitations on motor vehicle accidents runs two years from the date of the accident, or two years from the date of the last no-fault payment made for medical treatment. The statute of limitations is two years against the state of Hawaii. If a claim is made against the city and county of Honolulu, a notice of claim should be filed within six months of the accident to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact a qualified personal injury attorney without delay so that you can be apprised of your legal rights and about the statute of limitations.
Uninsured Motorist And Underinsured Motorist Coverage
It is extremely important for you to understand these basic optional coverages in auto policies. “Uninsured” motorist coverage protects you when you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident by another vehicle that has no auto insurance coverage. Likewise, “underinsured” motorist coverage protects you when you’re injured by a motor vehicle that is insured but the insurance limits are inadequate to compensate you for your injuries. The cost of this optional coverage is cheap. Also, if you insure more than one vehicle, the coverages can be “stacked.” This means, for example, that if you have three cars insured with a company, each with $100,000 in UM and UIM benefits, you can stack the coverages for a total of $300,000 potential available coverage. This UM/UIM coverage can also protect you in certain instances when you are a pedestrian, a bicyclist or a motorcyclist involved in an accident. This type of coverage is extremely important as too many vehicles on the Hawaii roads may not be insured or only have $20,000 of coverage, the minimum amount required by law. Call your insurance company or agent immediately if you are not certain whether you have obtained UM/UIM coverage and be sure to request “stacking.”
Act Now To Protect Yourself And Your Family
If you have significant injuries, or if you simply want to be advised of your rights, contact a personal injury lawyer experienced in representing the victims of motor vehicle accidents. Contact me, Jan Weinberg, for a FREE consultation to review your case. I will answer your questions and offer my candid opinion of your case and your next best steps.
I have successfully represented over 1,000 clients in motor vehicle accident cases in more than three decades of practice and have a record of distinction in obtaining compensation for accident victims. See the results page of this website for recoveries made by the Law Offices of Jan M. Weinberg for its clients in motor vehicle accidents and other cases. To speak directly with me, call 808-829-3466 or fill out this online form and I will promptly respond to you. Serving all of Hawaii.