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Hawaii Car Accident Laws & Resources

From Kona to Hilo to Poipu, Hawaii has plenty of scenic roadways. Residents in this island state number nearly 900,000 who each travel approximately 7,000 miles per year. Along the way, drivers in Hawaii are in thousands of minor and serious accidents. Whether you live in or are visiting the Aloha State, you must carry a minimum amount of auto insurance. Also, you should be familiar with the laws and regulations pertaining to driving and accidents here, in case you are ever in an accident. You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit or accident claim, and it helps to know what the guidelines are for Hawaii.

hawaii auto accident laws

Statistics & Notable Hawaii Car Accident Lawsuits

According to recent news reports, it is a good idea to be cautious as a pedestrian in Hawaii, particularly in the busiest cities. The local newspaper reported recently there have been 14 pedestrians killed this year already, while there were 15 for all last year. Oahu accounts for nine of the deaths in 2018. Officials warn that most of the pedestrians died in crosswalks.

There also have been 20 automobile deaths in all the islands as of March 15, 2018. Most of the cases are still under investigation, but it is thought that alcohol, drugs and speed were factors in at least seven accidents.

In an attempt to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths, the Hawaii State Department of Transportation is starting to broadcast traffic death statistics and safety messages on dynamic message signs  on Oahu.

Below are more car accident statistics for Hawaii:

  • Between 10 and 20 people die each year in the state when riding a bike or scooter that is motorized.
  • 20 to 30 are killed every year walking down the street.
  • Approximately 40% of fatal crashes in the state involve drugs or alcohol.
  • Speed is the major factor in most of the car accidents in the state.
  • Some of the other common contributing factors are not yielding right of way, crossing the yellow line, turning improperly without yielding to traffic, and tailgating.
  • Hawaii had 93 fatal car accidents in 2013, which caused 102 deaths.
  • Three people died in a commercial truck in Hawaii in 2013.
  • 21 were killed in a small truck or SUV in 2013.

A recent personal injury lawsuit against the Hawaii state government cost the state $1.3 million. The settlement was related to a car crash on Hawaii Island in 2014 that left a 23-year-old man paralyzed.

Allan Baron Imada was visiting Hawaii with his family and was a passenger in a car when a woman going the opposite on Hawaii Belt Road went over the center line and slammed into the car.

Imada filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Hawaii Department of Transportation a few months after the crash near the town of Captain Cook. The highway is the property of and maintained by the state. The lawsuit stated the state the road was in a dangerous condition and did not fix and maintain it. The lawsuit was seeking compensation for past, current and future medical bills and lost earnings.

According to testimony provided in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the state of Hawaii did not replace rumble strips on the highway in question that could have slowed the driver who crossed the double yellow line.

Imada initially was treated at Kona Community Hospital and was later taken to The Queen’s Medical Center where he was found to be stable. Then he was taken to Craig Hospital in Colorado for rehabilitation.

His parents also filed another lawsuit two years after the crash for medical expenses, emotional distress and loss of profit from their business. The wife was a major source of clients for the business, but now she is the home health aide for her son.

Lawyers for the state thought the case could have led to a judgment as high as $15 million if it had gone to trail but the state was able to negotiate the $.13 million settlement with the help of a mediator.

Auto Insurance Requirements in Hawaii

Hawaii requires you to have a minimum level of auto insurance. If you do not do so, you can incur serious penalties including jail time or fines, or both.

Minimum auto insurance requirements in Hawaii are:

  • $20,000 in bodily injury per person for each accident
  • $40,000 for bodily injury for all persons in an accident
  • $10,000 in property damage liability
  • $10,000 in personal injury protection

You are not required to carry more coverage in Hawaii beyond this, such as underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. Nor are you required to have collision and comprehensive insurance.

Note that Hawaii is a no-fault state. Your auto insurance will pay for your injury claims up to a certain amount, regardless of fault. Under the no-fault system, you do surrender some rights to sue in a personal injury lawsuit. Your PIP coverage will pay for your injuries up to $5,000. The required limit of coverage is $10,000, but if you have more serious injuries over $5,000, you can go outside the no-fault system and file a lawsuit. However, remember that you only can do so if your injuries exceed your PIP coverage, OR your injuries include a major, permanent loss of use of part of your body or serious disfigurement that causes mental or emotional distress.

If you have injuries that are more than $5,000 it is critical to have gotten all required medical treatments before making a claim. You also should be certain that you visited a doctor immediately after the accident. This ensures that your injuries are well documented if you decide to file suit later.

Hawaii Accident Settlement Taxes

In many cases, your personal injury settlement should go to you free of state and federal taxes. However, this usually only applies to the amount that going to you for the actual, physical injuries you suffered. The federal tax code excludes from your taxable income any compensation you receive in a settlement for physical injuries and illnesses related to an accident.

However, there are a number of exceptions to be aware of. For example, if you receive compensation only for your mental and emotional damages in a case not related to physical injuries, this is taxable as income at the state level in Hawaii and by Uncle Sam.

If you receive compensation for lost wages due to your injuries, this is taxable as income because it is a replacement for income that would have been taxed anyway. Also, if you receive punitive damages, this is always taxable at the state and federal levels.

Be certain to run your case by a tax attorney or advisor to make sure that you pay taxes on any part of your settlement that you must. These cases are often complex, and it always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to tax implications on a large lump sum payment.

Hawaii Car Accident Settlement Calculator:

Have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident or otherwise injured in Hawaii? Find out how much financial compensation you may be legally entitled to in just minutes with our free online Hawaii Car Accident Settlement Calculator.

Negligence Laws in Hawaii

If you have been hurt in a car accident in Hawaii and your injuries are more than $5,000, you could be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. But before you do this, you need to understand how the state determines liability for an accident. To determine who is liable for the accident, you must show that the person you are suing was negligent, and this negligence caused your injuries.

When compensation is determined in this state, the process will use a system of comparative negligence. This means that even if you were partially responsible for the accident, you could still recover compensation. Hawaii adheres to the comparative negligence – 51% rule. This means if the injured person was less than 51% at fault, they may still recover damages. If you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you cannot recover damages.

Also, if the percentage is less than 51%, that amount is deducted from the damages you recover.

Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Hawaii

This state has a deadline or statute of limitations to file a personal injury action in Hawaii court. You have a maximum time of two years to file a personal injury claim after a car accident that led to personal injury. Also, the family of a person killed in a car accident has two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.

Other Hawaii Driving and Accident Laws

Below are recently laws passed in Hawaii that affect motorists. It is important to be aware of these new laws so that you do not receive traffic tickets while visiting or living in this state:

  • Passed in 2013, all drivers and passengers no matter their age or where they sit must be using a seatbelt or a child passenger restraint on public roads. The driver may be fined $92 for each violation.
  • Using handheld cell phones and any other mobile electronic devices is against the law when you are driving. Texting, instant messaging, emailing and gaming are specifically outlawed in the statute. Navigation devices and any hands-free devices are allowed.
  • Since 2012, residents who apply for or renew a driver’s license must show documents showing they are in the state legally. Usually, this proof consists of a birth certificate and a Social Security card.

Hawaii Car Accident Resources

If you have been in a car accident in Hawaii, it is recommended to review the resources below.

  • If have serious accident injuries in a car accident in Hawaii, you may have piles of medical bills, lost wages and serious pain and suffering – both mental and physical. If you are considering a claim or personal injury lawsuit, Lawsuit Info Center can assist you. This is a free website designed help injured drivers and passengers to locate a qualified personal injury attorney in their area who can help them to get a good settlement or verdict. Also, use our website to determine the rough amount your car accident claim could be worth.
  • If you were in a car accident in Hawaii, you should file a Motor Vehicle Accident Report about the crash. If the police responded to the accident, they have already completed the accident report.
  • If you are in a car accident in Honolulu, you may need a copy of the Motor Vehicle Collision Report – you can get a copy here.