LEAVITT, YAMANE & SOLDNER CAN HELP YOU
Car accidents are an unfortunate fact of life in Hawaii. Honolulu alone has more than its fair share of accidents, due to heavy traffic from the tourist industry and other causes of car accidents, such as drunk driving, distracted driving, and speeding. Unfortunately, victims of such accidents often suffer debilitating and ongoing damages such as physical pain, emotional distress, medical expenses, and more.
At Leavitt Yamane & Soldner, we help automobile accident victims. Our knowledgeable Honolulu car accident attorneys can deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and help you receive the compensation you need to move forward. With more than 100 years of combined experience, we can draw on our skill and resources to ensure that your rights are fully protected.
If we believe you have a claim, our car accident lawyers will immediately go to work to:
• Gather evidence concerning your accident
• Find and interview any witnesses
• Review your insurance policy and the policy of the other driver
• Explore every avenue and inform you of your legal options
• Battle the insurance companies on your behalf
• Take your case to court if necessary
Car Accident Statistics
We have gathered some facts about common types of traffic accidents in Hawaii and some recent trends. From representing injury victims and the families of those killed, we know that behind every traffic statistic is a family tragedy and that many of the traffic accidents were preventable. At Leavitt Yamane & Soldner, we work to help individuals and families harmed by the negligence of others to secure their futures after a serious accident and to move forward.
Fatal Hawaii Traffic Accidents Averaged from 2009 to 2013
Alcohol and Traffic Accidents in Hawaii, 2009 to 2013
In Hawaii, the percentage of fatal traffic accidents that are alcohol related consistently exceeds the national average.
% of Fatal Traffic Accidents Alcohol Related in Hawaii
% of Fatal Traffic Accidents Alcohol Related in U.S.
Hawaii Fatalities by Accident Type, 2013
Five Year Trend (2009-2013) in Accident Fatalities for Top Five Counties in Hawaii
HAWAII CAR ACCIDENTS & JUSTICE
Families who have lost a loved one in a fatal car accident or those who have been injured in an auto accident have the right to pursue compensation from the driver who was responsible. The amount of compensation recovered will be in part a result of the actions taken on your behalf by your Hawaii car accident attorney. At Leavitt Yamane & Soldner, we help our clients to seek justice in these cases, both locals and visitors to Oahu or any of the sister islands. The first step is to get in touch with us so we can help you determine the best legal action to take. We are aggressive negotiators and litigators; should the insurance company fail to make a fair offer within a reasonable period of time, we prepare the case for trial and will actively seek justice in civil court.
Contact Our Honolulu Personal Injury Attorneys and Get Help
With more than 100 years of shared legal experience, our legal team understands how complex these cases could potentially become and how to move forward with a claim or lawsuit to get justice. We draw upon our legal skills, experience, and extensive network of professional resources to protect the rights of those we serve. Above all, we have a passion for justice and we care deeply about the people we represent.
Our legal team at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner has served visitors and residents of Hawaii for many years and is known as one of the most effective law firms representing car accidents in the area. If you were injured in a car accident in Hawaii, our firm will evaluate your case and advise you how to best move forward to pursue fair compensation.
Causes of Car Accidents
Each day thousands of residents and tourists use the Moanalua, Queen Liliuokalani, Lunalilo, and H1 freeways, as well the state’s network of city streets and rural roadways. When a traffic accident occurs, the police try to assess the cause while working to clear the roadway and get traffic moving again. The Hawaii motor vehicle accident report lists a number of possible causes including human factors, vehicle factors, road conditions, and other factors.
Car accidents may be caused by:
• Driver error
• Failure to yield
• Driver impairment
• A poorly maintained car
• A dangerous road condition
Many accidents, particularly multi-car accidents, are complex and may require an accident reconstruction to determine all the contributing factors. When another driver’s carelessness or disregard for safety causes an accident, the people injured may seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Our Honolulu personal injury lawyers at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner work hard to obtain full compensation that recognizes the seriousness of your injuries. If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in Honolulu or anywhere in the state of Hawaii, our lawyers would welcome the opportunity to evaluate your accident and advise you of your legal options.
UNDERSTANDING CAUSES OF CAR ACCIDENTS
The Hawaii vehicle accident report lists factors that contributed to your accident. Among the factors commonly cited, are human factors such as inattention, misjudgment, fatigue, and impairment; vehicle factors such as worn tires, brakes, headlights; and other factors such as disregarding traffic signals, driving too fast for conditions, following too closely, improper passing or crossing, and failure to yield. Police may cite multiple factors as contributing to an accident.
Fatal Accidents in Hawaii -Five Year Trend
Speeding-Police in Hawaii aggressively enforce the traffic laws regarding speeding. Excessive speed is a factor in many accidents in the islands causing serious injuries and fatalities. A driver may cause an accident by exceeding the posted speed limit or by driving too fast for road or weather conditions. Speeding on a road covered by water increases the likelihood of a car loses traction and hydroplaning if the vehicle has worn tires with little tread.
Fatalities in Accidents in Hawaii Involving Speeding
When a vehicle is speeding and veers off the road, a driver may whip the steering wheel around to try to get the car back on the road and cause a rollover accident. Serious injuries and fatal injuries are more likely in a rollover accident.
Fatalities in Accidents in Hawaii Involving Rollovers
• Inattention – Driver distraction is recognized as a factor in an increasing number of accidents. Among the types of distractions that a police officer may check on the vehicle accident report as contributing factors are distraction by a cell phone or other wireless communication device, and distraction by a passenger or something outside the vehicle. According to the National Safety Council, use of a cellphone causes 26 percent of car accidents across the U.S.
• Failure to Yield – Failure to yield accidents can cause serious injuries if a driver overlooks another vehicle entering an intersection or fails to heed a traffic light or signal.
• Pedestrian Accidents – Hawaii has the highest fatality rate in the U.S. for older adults being struck by cars. Motorists often fail to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or when turning at an intersection.
• Drunk Driving – Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is common in serious accidents in Hawaii. A drunk driver may disregard traffic signals, drive the wrong direction, or cross the centerline. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration • \(NHTSA), Hawaii has a higher proportion of fatal crashes that involve impaired drivers.
Turn to Leavitt Yamane & Soldner for Knowledgeable Legal Guidance
To determine the cause of your car accident, the personal injury attorneys at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner will conduct a thorough investigation that may involve obtaining the cell phone records of other drivers, working with accident reconstruction experts, and interviewing witnesses to the accident. Our intent is to build the strongest case possible for our clients to receive the full compensation they deserve. It’s important to speak with a knowledgeable Hawaii car accident lawyer if you’ve been injured in an accident caused by another motorist.
Damages in Car Accidents
While most people who are involved in car accidents emerge without serious long-term injuries, some are less fortunate. Catastrophic auto accidents can result in severe spinal cord, neck, and brain injuries or, even more tragically, wrongful death. If you or a member of your family has been harmed in such a crash and is looking for a car accident attorney in the Honolulu area, our experienced lawyers of Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can help. We handle car accident cases of all types and will fight for the full measure of damages to which you are entitled.
WHAT SORT OF COMPENSATION CAN I EXPECT?
The exact compensation you can expect in your case depends on a number of factors, including whether you shared some fault for the accident, your out-of-pocket expenses, and the nature of your injuries. Only through careful investigation, reconstruction, and analysis of your car accident can an attorney at our Honolulu law firm estimate the damages to which you are entitled.
In general, however, most car accident victims are able to recover compensation for whatever losses and expenses resulted from their injuries, including:
• Medical bills
• Rehabilitation expenses
• Lost wages
• Pain and suffering
Lose a Loved One? Our Caring Honolulu Personal Injury Lawyers Can Assist You.
In rare cases of egregiously reckless negligence, punitive damages – compensation awarded solely to punish the defendant – may also be awarded. If, regrettably, you have lost a member of your family in a car accident, our Honolulu personal injury attorneys will also be able to argue for compensation for funeral-related costs, as well as for losses and expenses that can reasonably be projected into the future. Commonly, wrongful death lawsuits result in compensation for future lost income and benefits, loss of support, loss of consortium, and mental anguish.
Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accidents are a serious problem in Hawaii. Many people who drink alcohol over-imbibe then get behind the wheel of their vehicles and end up causing accidents. In many cases, the drunk drivers cause serious or fatal injuries to other people. You only need to look at Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) statistics to see the danger of drinking and driving. According to the DOH, 40 percent of the drivers killed in car crashes in our state over a recent five-year period tested positive for alcohol. Of those drivers, 89 percent had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher and were legally intoxicated at the time of the wreck.
Leavitt Yamane & Soldner represents people who have been injured by drunk drivers in Hawaii. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a drunk driving accident, our drunk driving accident lawyers will put our many years of legal experience to work for you, so you get the full compensation that you are due.
HOW IS DRUNK DRIVING DEFINED?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says drivers are considered to be alcohol-impaired when their BACs are .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher – usually cited as .08 percent BAC. In Hawaii, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. According to data from the NHTSA, 31 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the country were alcohol-related. This number was much higher in Hawaii.
The NHTSA says of 102 traffic deaths in Hawaii in 2013, 45 drivers (44 percent) had some alcohol in their system. Of those who had been drinking, a third had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. One in five drunk drivers had a BAC of 0.15 or higher – the level of which a driver is categorized as an extremely drunk driver and is subject to enhanced penalties.
Hawaii’s Criminal Penalties for Drunk Driving
According to Hawaii law, the actual crime of driving drunk (with a 0.08 percent BAC or more) is known as “operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant.” It is actually stricter than simply applying a 0.08 percent BAC restriction.
In addition to that standard, the law (§291E-61) says a person is in violation if they control a vehicle:
“While under the influence of alcohol in an amount sufficient to impair the person’s normal mental faculties or ability to care for the person and guard against casualty; and
“While under the influence of any drug that impairs the person’s ability to operate the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner.”
Upon a first-time conviction, the drunk driver may face:
One-year suspension of their driver’s license and the installation of an ignition interlock device on their vehicle(s).
Seventy two hours of community service or at least 48 hours and up to 5 days in jail, or a fine of $150 to $1,000, or any combination of the three (plus court costs).
A requirement to complete a 14-hour substance abuse rehabilitation program.
Additional DUI convictions within a five-year period bring a longer driver’s license revocation, more jail time, and higher fines. A person who is 18 years old or older and convicted of drunk driving with a passenger in their vehicle who was 15 years old or younger faces an additional $500 fine and could be jailed for an additional 48 hours.
You may notice that the criminal penalties do not make any provision for the innocent driver, passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian who is injured by a drunk driver. If you are to obtain financial compensation for the losses you have incurred because of a drunk driver, you have the option of filing a separate civil lawsuit.
Leavitt Yamane & Soldner assists people injured in drunk driving accidents in Hawaii in obtaining compensation for:
• Medical expenses
• Lost income
• Property damage
• Pain and suffering
• Other losses sustained in a drunk driving accident.
How Can We Help You After a Drunk Driving Accident?
After a car accident, you turn to your car insurance for compensation to repair your vehicle and pay medical bills. If the accident was the other driver’s fault, you seek compensation through the other driver’s auto liability insurance.
Because Hawaii is a no-fault state, your car insurance carrier is expected to pay for your injuries and your passengers’ injuries up to the limits of your policy’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Because “no-fault” applies to injuries, not to vehicles or property, the at-fault driver’s insurance is responsible for damages to your vehicle. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), the coverage protects you in the event that the other driver does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries.
In addition to your PIP insurance, personal injury law allows an injured person to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for losses if:
• The cost of the injuries exceed PIP limits
• The injuries include significant permanent loss of use of a body part or function
• The claimant has suffered permanent and serious disfigurement resulting in mental or emotional distress.
Such a claim can be a long process that is draining, confusing, and disheartening if you try to do it by yourself. Without a knowledgeable drunk driving accident attorney, a victim can feel overwhelmed by the weight of the entire process.
Contact Leavitt Yamane & Soldner for Comprehensive Legal Representation
Our Honolulu car accident attorneys of Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can conduct the investigation required for a solid personal injury claim after a drunk driving accident. Our lawyers and staff will gather all the vital information – from physical evidence, to expert opinions, to tracking down responsible parties. No detail is too small in a drunk driving accident. On behalf of our clients, we battle insurance companies in negotiations or in court to ensure they do what’s right. Our appearance as your attorney will change the dynamics of your drunk driving accident claim. The insurance companies will know they can’t push you around or try to coerce you to accept a settlement that is not in your best interests.
If you have been a victim in an alcohol-related accident, turn to a Hawaii attorney who is qualified, experienced, and supportive to advocate on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery. Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can help you recover compensation for medical expenses, property damage, current and future lost wages, your pain and suffering, and more after a drunk driving accident.
Liabilities in Car Accidents
The success of virtually any personal injury case rises and falls on the plaintiff’s ability to identify and prove that the defendant is liable – that is, financially responsible – for his or her injuries. Our car accident attorneys at the Honolulu law firm of Leavitt Yamane & Soldner have decades of collective experience in successfully demonstrating the liability of negligent drivers for the injuries sustained by victims. If you have been injured or have suffered the wrongful death of a family member in a car accident, you need to entrust your case to lawyers with the resources, skills, and knowledge to present the strongest case possible on your behalf. You need the law firm of Leavitt Yamane & Soldner in your corner.
NEGLIGENCE & LIABILITY
A reasonable person is expected to behave in such a manner that his or her actions do not put others at risk of harm. When a person fails to behave in this manner and his or her actions result in injury to or the death of another person, he or she can be said to have acted negligently. This negligence on the part of the defendant must be proven before he or she can be held liable for the resulting losses and expenses suffered by the injured party. In this sense, the concepts of negligence and liability are intertwined in most personal injury cases.
In car accident cases, our attorneys in Honolulu must be able to demonstrate that:
• The driver who caused the accident owed the injured party a “duty of care”; that is, that he or she was obligated to drive safely and to be mindful of the safety of his or her fellow drivers.
• The driver failed to fulfill this duty of care and, in doing so, behaved negligently.
• This act of negligence resulted in harm to the injured party.
• The injuries sustained by the injured party resulted in losses and expenses that would not otherwise have been incurred.
On the surface, many cases involving car accidents appear to be relatively simple; however, the establishment of negligence is almost always a complex matter requiring careful analysis of the facts and detailed investigation of the accident. Our car accident attorneys in Honolulu have successfully handled even the most complex auto accident cases over the years and would be pleased to put their experience and knowledge to work for you.
Leavitt Yamane & Soldner Can Help You File for Compensation
Depending on the extent of your injury and whether you share some degree of fault for the car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other demonstrable losses and expenses. If you have lost a loved one, you may be further entitled to compensation for funeral costs, future lost wages, and other losses that can reasonably be projected into the future.
If you believe that you were partly responsible for the accident in which you were injured, you may still be entitled to recover partial compensation. Hawaii has adopted the legal doctrine of comparative negligence. This means that the amount of compensation to which you are entitled will be reduced according to your degree of fault. Therefore, if you were found to be 30 percent responsible for the accident, you would be entitled to recover 70 percent of your total losses and expenses.
If you are injured when you are a passenger in a car that is involved in an accident in Honolulu or elsewhere in Hawaii, you have a right to seek compensation. Generally, you will have three options for pursuing a recovery. We at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can help you understand these options and guide you through the whole process.
Option No. 1 – File a Claim Through the Driver’s Personal Injury Protection Benefits
Hawaii requires anyone with a motor vehicle to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This insurance pays for all medical and rehabilitative costs that the driver and his or her passengers suffer in an accident – regardless of who was at fault. So, if you are injured as a passenger, the driver’s PIP coverage should protect you up to the minimum amount of that coverage.
Option No. 2 – Sue the Driver of the Car or Other Type of Vehicle Who Is at Fault
If another driver caused the auto accident, you may be able to collect compensation beyond PIP benefits.
You may be able to seek recovery from the other driver’s liability insurance coverage if:
• Your medical costs go beyond the $5,000 “tort threshold”
• You suffer significant permanent loss of use of a part or function of your body or permanent and serious disfigurement
• Your loved one was the passenger and died in the accident
In contrast to a PIP claim, you would need to show that the other driver was at fault in this type of personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. However, the law is clear that other drivers owe a duty to other motorists and their passengers, and they can be liable if they breach that duty.
Option No. 3 – Sue the Driver of Your Vehicle if He or She Is to Blame for the Wreck
The driver could be a friend or family member. As a result, you may be hesitant to bring a claim against him or her. Just keep in mind: You are not seeking to recover from that person. Instead, you are seeking to recover from the insurance company. So, if the negligence or other wrongful conduct of the driver of your vehicle caused you to suffer injuries as a passenger (or you lost a loved one who was a passenger), then you have a right (and owe it to yourself) to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Your right to assert this claim would be subject to the same limits you would face if you were suing the driver of another car.
YOUR OWN FAULT COULD REDUCE OR BAR YOUR RECOVERY
You need to be aware that your own fault could reduce your recovery or prevent you from receiving any compensation. For instance, if you distracted the driver of your vehicle, your negligence could be deemed to have contributed to the accident and your injuries. Hawaii follows a modified comparative fault system. If your negligence or wrongful conduct somehow exceeds the combined fault of all of the defendants – for instance, the driver of the car you were a passenger in and the driver of the other car – then you are barred from a recovery. If not, you can recover compensation. However, it will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.
Unsure About Your Rights as a Passenger? Contact Leavitt Yamane & Soldner.
As you can see, there are many ways to seek compensation when you are a passenger of a car that was in an accident (or lost a family member who was a passenger). It’s important to talk with a lawyer who can review your case, help you to sort through all of your options and, ultimately, protect your rights. We can put our highly skilled and dedicated legal team and our years of experience in representing injured passengers in Honolulu and the Neighbor Islands to work for you right away.
Types of Car Accidents
Although most people take their driving routines as an inevitable and relatively safe part of their lives, auto accidents are a common occurrence and a very real risk for the operator of any vehicle. Our experienced Honolulu car accident lawyers at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner know only too well how dangerous the congested roads of Hawaii can be, having handled cases involving nearly every type of auto crash possible.
A serious auto accident can take the form of a:
• Single-vehicle or multiple-vehicle car accident
• Motorcycle accident
• Bicycle accident
• Pedestrian accident
• Tractor-trailer accident
Regardless of the types of vehicles involved in the accident, serious and even deadly consequences can occur, devastating victims and their families. If you or a member of your family has been injured in a car accident, our personal injury lawyers in Honolulu can help.
CAUSES OF COLLISIONS BETWEEN VEHICLES
The most common type of car accident is the rear-end collision. While rear-end collisions are less likely to result in death, they can and often do result in vehicle damage and serious injuries such as whiplash, broken bones, and lacerations. While adverse weather conditions and faulty equipment (for example, malfunctioning brakes) may lead to a rear-end collision, driver negligence is often the cause. Many rear-end collisions occur because a distracted or speeding driver simply does not pay appropriate attention to the actions of the driver in front of him or her. Likewise, a driver who fails to maintain his or her automobile properly puts other motorists at risk, increasing the chances that a vital piece of equipment will fail at the wrong time. Even when inclement weather is the direct cause of a rear-end collision, driver fault may be an issue, particularly if the driver failed to exercise the heightened diligence that such weather conditions demands.
Less common, but more likely to result in serious injury or death, are side-impact or head-on collisions. In the case of side-impact collisions, the occupants of a vehicle are simply afforded less structural protection when an automobile is struck from the side. In the case of head-on collisions, the opposing momentum of two vehicles, especially when they approach each other at high speeds, leads to particularly forceful impact.
If you have been injured or a close relative has been killed by a distracted driver in Hawaii, it is important to understand that you may have a legal right to compensation. Drivers are expected to be reasonably careful, and all motorists are required to follow road safety laws. This includes a ban on texting and handheld cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle in Hawaii.
Distracted drivers who cause serious injuries or death may be held liable for compensating crash victims for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other losses. At Leavitt Yamane & Soldner, our experienced car accident lawyers are here to help if you have been hurt by a driver who wasn’t paying attention.
HAWAII CAR ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY DISTRACTED DRIVING
Hawaii has some of the toughest distracted driving laws in the country. All drivers are banned from using a handheld cell phone while driving, and drivers under the age of 18 are not permitted to use any type of phone while behind the wheel. A texting ban prohibits all drivers from sending or reading text messages.
Motorists who violate a distracted driving law may be presumed negligent, which means that a crash victim seeking compensation would not have to specifically prove that the driver was careless. If an accident victim can prove that the crash was a direct result of the violation, the victim may be entitled to compensation for losses. An attorney can help you show that a distracted driver was to blame for your crash.
Steps may include:
• Subpoenaing phone records from the driver’s cell provider
• Interviewing witnesses to the accident
• Obtaining accident reports from law enforcement
• Consulting with an accident reconstruction specialist
If the driver was engaged in other distracting behaviors, such as eating while driving or talking to passengers, it may not be as easy to prove fault for the crash. Under these circumstances, you may need to show that the other motorist was unreasonably careless and that this lapse in good judgment caused the collision.
Hurt By a Distracted Driver? Contact Leavitt Yamane & Soldner Today.
After a crash involving a distracted driver in Hawaii, contact law enforcement right away. The police should come to the scene and write a detailed accident report. The driver who caused the crash may also be ticketed if law enforcement determines that he or she violated Hawaii’s traffic safety laws.
Getting prompt medical treatment is essential, especially if your injuries are severe. Even if you don’t feel symptoms, you may have conditions such as internal bleeding or traumatic brain damage that could be life-threatening. Keep careful records of all medical exams and treatments you undergo, as well as medical bills.
To help ensure you can prove the cause of the accident and the extent of the damage, it is also important to take pictures at the accident scene and get contact info from witnesses. If you are unable to do this yourself, ask someone else to help. Calling an attorney is another crucial step to take after a distracted driving crash. You have legal rights, and you need a dedicated legal professional to help ensure you get the money you deserve.
At Leavitt Yamane & Soldner, our Honolulu personal injury lawyers have decades of experience with helping injured people throughout Hawaii. Since 1971, our attorneys have helped countless individuals who were hurt or who lost loved ones in motor vehicle accidents.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that drowsy driving crashes are more likely than other car accidents to cause serious injuries or death. Hawaii law says that the drowsy driver who caused your collision may be held responsible for your losses. To get the compensation you deserve after an accident caused by a fatigued driver, it is important for you to take legal action. Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can help with your drowsy driving accident claim. With more than 70 years of combined legal experience, our lawyers know what it takes to help you get full and fair compensation for your injuries.
COMPENSATION AFTER A DROWSY DRIVING ACCIDENT
Hawaii requires no-fault insurance, which means every driver must buy insurance to cover the costs of minor injuries and partial lost wages after a car accident. Drivers can recover benefits under no-fault coverage regardless of who was to blame for the car crash. No-fault insurance provides minimal compensation for covered medical treatment costs and lost wages only – and only up to the policy limits.
If someone else caused an accident because he or she was driving while fatigued or drowsy, you may make a personal injury claim against the individual if you were seriously hurt or a loved one was killed in the collision. You may be entitled to compensation even if you were riding as a passenger in the drowsy driver’s car.
To make a claim for compensation, you may need to prove:
• That the driver was unreasonably careless
• That the driver’s carelessness was the direct cause of the accident
• That you were injured in the accident
A reasonably safe driver would not continue to drive while too tired or sleepy to safely operate a car. If you can prove that the driver who caused your crash was engaged in such a high-risk behavior, you may recover compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress or wrongful death damages.
PROVING ANOTHER DRIVER’S FATIGUE CAUSED AN ACCIDENT
Proving liability for a drowsy driving crash can be more complicated than other accidents, such as when a driver is on a cell phone or drunk. There is no breath test for drowsiness or phone records to show that the other motorist was too tired to drive safely. A Honolulu car accident lawyer can conduct an investigation and obtain evidence to show that the driver’s drowsiness was the cause of the crash.
Evidence of drowsy driving may include:
• Witness reports of erratic driving
• A sober motorist crossing into oncoming traffic
• A truck driver’s logbook
• Statements from the driver
• Evidence that the driver took medications that cause drowsiness
• An accident report prepared at the scene by police
• Testimony from an accident reconstruction specialist
When you are represented by Leavitt Yamane & Soldner, our attorneys will use our legal knowledge and experience to put together the strongest possible claim so you have the best chance of full compensation for your injuries and losses. Our Honolulu personal injury attorneys have decades of experience negotiating settlements and litigating cases in court. We charge no legal fees unless we recover compensation for you.
Injured in an Accident? Speak with Our Honolulu Personal Injury Attorneys.
Whatever the type of accident, if one driver acted negligently, victims and their families should consult with one of the car accident lawyers at our Honolulu law firm to learn more about their rights and legal options.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
EXAMINING YOUR CLAIM IN A UM/UIM CRASH
If you have been in a car crash that involves an uninsured driver, make sure you file an accident claim with your insurance company as soon as possible – regardless of the coverage you have. The next thing to do is to let a car accident lawyer examine your insurance policy and the circumstances of your accident. Our firm, for instance, can advise you right away about the compensation you may expect to receive.
All car insurance in Hawaii has personal injury protection (PIP) benefits up to $10,000 to pay for medical expenses caused by car crash injuries. You are eligible for these benefits regardless of who was at fault in your crash. This is known as a “no-fault” claim. In cases where you could file a claim in addition to your PIP claim, the other driver’s liability insurance would cover your losses. If that driver lacks insurance, however, then your UM/UIM coverage should be considered.
Insurance agents and companies in Hawaii must advise policyholders about UM/UIM coverage options and must allow the policyholders to decline this coverage in writing. The minimum amount that can be purchased is $20,000 worth of coverage per person for personal injuries – although policyholders can (and should) purchase more. This coverage can pay for the losses that the other driver’s liability insurance would have paid (if they had insurance).
Hawaii’s no-fault system and your UM/UIM protection should ensure you are paid a proper settlement after being hit by a driver who lacks liability insurance coverage. However, as we have seen at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner, car insurance companies have many ways to avoid paying what accident victims are due. Our job is to stop insurers from shortchanging you after a car accident and to find other sources of compensation for you when they exist.
We can help you in the following ways:
• We’ll closely examine your insurance plan and make sure your insurer pays you all of the money you deserve under the terms of your policy.
• We will work to prepare a solid case on your behalf and negotiate strongly for a proper settlement.
• If we have to go to court for you, we’ll be ready.
Even when the driver who has caused your car accident has no car insurance or too little car insurance, you deserve compensation for your injuries. We’ll make sure your rights are fully protected.
Uninsured Motorist FAQ
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT UM & UIM
Over the years, many of our clients have come to us with questions about accidents involving drivers without uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. For your convenience, below we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about uninsured motorists in Honolulu and how this insurance coverage affects you if you’ve been in an auto accident. If you have any other questions or simply need more clarification on uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, our Honolulu personal injury lawyers would be glad to review your case and offer you more solutions.
Do I Really Need Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Yes. There are statistics that show one in four drivers is a Hawaii uninsured motorist, and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage protects you from the injuries they cause. Underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event that a driver does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries. The minimum insurance coverage in Hawaii is $20,000, which is often not enough to cover medical expenses, not to mention wage loss, disability or worse.
What Is “Stacked” Hawaii Uninsured Motorist Coverage & How Does it Work?
You can get more insurance protection for a few more dollars every year by stacking together your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Another benefit to stacked coverage is that any family member in your household is also included in your available benefits. In the event of an accident, you would have access to two or more policies with uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Do I Need to Be in My Car at the Time of Accident to Get Hawaii Uninsured Motorist Benefits?
No. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been injured as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or passenger in someone else’s car- uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is “personal and portable.” That means your protection coverage is available to you, and your family members who reside with you, whenever you are injured in a traffic accident.
How Much Hawaii Uninsured Motorist Coverage Should I Get?
Your insurance company is required to offer you uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in an amount equal to that of your bodily injury liability coverage (the insurance that covers you in the event that you injure someone else). Higher limits of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage are usually inexpensive, so we recommend purchasing the maximum amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage available.
How Do I Find Out if I Have Hawaii Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Your insurance company is required to offer this coverage to you, and it is in your best interest to obtain such a policy. We’ve seen firsthand what can happen to individuals who don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, so we urge you to call you insurance agent to confirm that you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Will My Rates Increase if I Make a Claim for Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage Benefits?
No. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is considered “optional additional coverage.” Under Hawaii law, an insurer may not raise insurance rates if an insured makes a claim against “optional additional coverage.”
If I Have “Full Coverage,” Does that Mean I Also Have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
“Full coverage” is a very vague term. In our experience, many people who believe that they have “full coverage” do NOT have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. We recommend calling your insurance agent to find out if you have this coverage. If you don’t, tell your insurance company or agent that you want the maximum stacked uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage available.
What is Uninsured Motorist / Underinsured Motorist coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage may provide compensation after an accident with an at-fault driver who has no insurance. Underinsured coverage may provide compensation when the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough coverage to pay all losses. UM and UIM coverage are available from your own insurer, and auto insurance companies are required to offer this optional coverage. The insurance covers policyholders and family members who live with them.
Does everyone have UM/UIM coverage?
UM/UIM is optional in Hawaii. Your auto insurance policy will specify whether you have UM and UIM coverage. This coverage must be purchased before you are involved in an accident. An experienced attorney at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can assist you in reviewing your policy and determining whether your accident losses are covered by your UM or UIM coverage.
Should I buy UM/UIM coverage?
Every driver in Hawaii should purchase UM and UIM coverage. It is relatively inexpensive and can provide much-needed financial resources in a serious car accident. Uninsured motorist coverage may pay your medical bills, lost wages and other losses if you are hurt by a negligent driver who lacks insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event that a driver does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries. The minimum insurance coverage in Hawaii is $20,000, which is often not enough to cover medical expenses, not to mention wage loss, disability or worse.
What does “stacked” coverage mean?
With stacked coverage, the UM or UIM coverage on each of your vehicles is added together, providing the most insurance protection. This often costs only a few dollars more per year. Additionally, the UM/UIM coverage of any family member living with you is also added to your available benefits. This means there may be two or more policies with UM and UIM coverage that may be available to pay for the injuries you suffer in a car accident caused by a driver without insurance or one with too little coverage.
When can I make a claim on my UM/UIM coverage?
You may make a claim on your UM/UIM policy when you are in a collision that causes losses that another driver should cover but can’t. You must follow the procedures outlined in your insurance policy to make a claim. Notify your insurer as soon as possible after the accident. If the other driver is at fault for the collision and does not have insurance or has too little, move forward with a UM/UIM claim. You will need to prove the other driver was at fault and is unable to pay. You will also need to demonstrate the extent of your losses to the insurer. An attorney at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can assist you in taking the appropriate steps to make a claim.
Can I make a UM/UIM claim if I was hurt while walking or biking?
A UM/UIM policy covers you for motor vehicle accidents even if you were not in a car at the time. Any member of your family covered by the policy may also be able to make a claim.
Uninsured motorist coverage is considered “personal and portable,” which means the coverage moves with you. If you were on foot, a passenger in someone else’s car, on a bike or otherwise injured by a collision, you may be covered. Family members who reside in your home may also be covered and may make a claim even if you were not injured.
How much compensation can I get in a UM/UIM claim?
The amount of coverage you have depends upon the policy you purchased. The insurance company is required to offer you UM/UIM coverage in an amount equal to that of your bodily injury liability coverage. Higher limits are usually inexpensive, so we recommend purchasing the maximum amount of UM/UIM coverage available. If you have a UM/UIM claim, it is up to you to prove the extent of your damages. Keep track of all medical bills, as well as all time missed from work. Speak with an attorney at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner for help documenting your losses to maximize your compensation.
What if I have a dispute over the amount of damages or if my claim is denied?
Your insurer is required to process claims fairly. If your insurer acts improperly, you may take legal action. Insurance companies that unfairly deny claims or are unwilling to pay in full for covered losses may be acting in bad faith. A claim for damages may be pursued if your insurer acts in bad faith. You may be able to recover compensation that exceeds your policy limits.
Will my rates increase if I make a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage benefits?
No. UM/UIM coverage is considered optional additional coverage. Under Hawaii law, an insurer may not raise insurance rates if an insured makes a claim against optional additional coverage.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage vs. Full Coverage
“Full coverage” is a very vague term. In our experience, many people who believe that they have “full coverage” do NOT have UM/UIM coverage. We recommend calling your insurance agent to find out if you have this coverage. If you don’t, tell your insurance company that you want the maximum stacked uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage available.
What to do after an accident
The time after a car accident can be incredibly stressful. You may be injured or coping with a loved one’s death at the same time you are dealing with financial concerns and trying to learn about the insurance system and your legal rights. Your actions after a crash can have a big impact on your ability to get full compensation for your losses. Our Honolulu car accident lawyers at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner are here for you. We’ve prepared a checklist of some of the things you should do immediately after your crash.
1. Call the Police.
The police should come to the scene of the crash and write a comprehensive accident report. The report may include the suspected cause of the crash, if it can be determined. The report may also include contact information for each driver involved. You can obtain a copy of this report, and it may be used as evidence in a car accident claim.
2. Collect Evidence at the Scene.
The two most crucial types of evidence to be collected in the immediate aftermath of an accident include pictures from the scene of the crash and the contact information of witnesses. A car accident lawyer can interview witnesses, and they may be able to testify for you at trial if there is a dispute regarding who was at fault for the crash. Photos of vehicle damage, skid marks, injuries, vehicle positions and other aspects of the crash scene may also be valuable in a claim for compensation.
3. See a Doctor.
Seeing a doctor after a car accident could save your life. Not all serious car accident injuries have obvious outward symptoms. For example, you could have internal organ damage, bleeding or traumatic brain injury and be unaware of it. A prompt medical examination following a crash could prevent a serious medical emergency.
To recover compensation for car accident injuries, your injuries should be documented by a licensed medical professional. Be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. In some cases, taking pictures of the injuries is also helpful.
4. Notify Your Insurer.
Your insurer should be notified after any accident, even if you believe the collision was minor or if the other driver offers to personally cover all your costs. You cannot trust that a motorist who caused an accident will actually pay as promised and you cannot be sure of the extent of your injuries and damage until you have your car checked by a mechanic and yourself checked by a doctor.
If you do not notify your insurer promptly of the accident, you could put your coverage at risk. No-fault coverage may pay medical bills and partial lost wages even if you were to blame. Your uninsured/underinsured coverage may pay benefits if the driver who caused your collision has no insurance or not enough coverage.
5. Call a Honolulu Personal Injury Attorney.
Insurance companies do not look out for you after a crash, and you have a limited period of time to act in order to obtain compensation for car accident losses. A car accident lawyer at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner in Honolulu can handle your accident investigation, file your claim, negotiate with the insurer, and guide you through the civil court process so you can focus on getting better.