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Hawaii Car Accident Compensation Laws

After the sickening crunch of cars colliding with one another, a flurry of questions may fill your mind. Who is going to pay to fix my car? What do I have to do to file an insurance claim? How are settlements affected by Hawaii's car accident laws? When does my auto insurance coverage apply?

You're not alone in having these concerns. Being without the family car in Honolulu for any period of time may not be feasible. Knowing how car accident and compensation laws in Hawaii work can help you achieve a resolution quickly.

The goal of this article is to bring you up to speed on how to receive compensation after a motor vehicle accident in Hawaii. We'll discuss what to do at the scene of the accident, what a police report is and why you need it, and how your auto insurance interacts with Hawaii's fault and negligence laws.

Together, we can cut through the confusion and red tape associated with getting compensated for an auto accident in Hawaii. Let's dive in.

Hawaii Car Accident Laws

In some ways, Hawaii's motor vehicle laws are like most other states. You must have registered your vehicle and have a valid driver's license to drive in Hawaii. You also owe a duty of care to other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians you share the road with.

Understanding your responsibilities and obligations as a driver in the state of Hawaii can help to keep you out of trouble. Below are the motor vehicle accident laws of Hawaii that you'll need after a car crash.

After an Auto Accident in Hawaii - What To Do

Even if the contact seemed minor, don't leave the scene of an accident without exchanging information with the other driver. If you do, you risk a hit-and-run charge.

Accidents are jarring and traumatic. But try to remember as many of your requirements as possible. You need to call local law enforcement and inform them of the accident if any of the following occur:

  • An injury
  • A fatality
  • More than $3,000 of property damage

Knowing what $3,000 of property damage looks like is not easy. If you aren't sure, call the police.

Check the well-being of everyone involved in the accident, including yourself. Offer the level of first aid you feel qualified to give. When calling 911, make sure you let the operator know about any serious injuries.

Whether the police are coming or not, exchange information with the other driver(s). Try to get the following:

  • Name, address, birth date, and phone number
  • Auto insurance company name and policy information
  • Driver's license numbers
  • Vehicle identification numbers (VIN) from all cars involved
  • License plate numbers

If anyone observed the accident, try to get their contact information and a witness statement. Take pictures of the scene of the accident from multiple angles.

Alert your insurance company about the car crash. They'll open a case file and assign an insurance adjuster.

If you're injured, seek medical attention. Keep copies of all medical bills and medical treatments for car accident injuries for your insurance claim.

Hawaii Police Accent Reports

When the investigating officer arrives, they will take control of the accident scene and begin creating the accident report. This is an extremely important document that will be used by insurance companies to determine factors such as fault and negligence.

The responding officer will combine the statements taken from drivers, passengers, and witnesses with the objective data they observe to fill out the police report. Some of the many types of information recorded will include:

  • Sobriety of drivers
  • Weather conditions
  • An accident scene diagram with vehicle position and damage impact points
  • Time of day and lighting conditions
  • Pertinent traffic signs and signals
  • Type of roadway and condition of road
  • The make, model, VINs, and condition of all involved vehicles
  • Skid marks

When giving your account of the accident to the officer, be calm and truthful. Don't admit to fault, even if you think you may have been responsible. For an in-depth look at all the ins and outs of police crash reports, take a look at FindLaw's Hawaii Car Accident Report Basics article.

You'll need to get a copy of the police report for your insurance claim and personal injury claim if you plan on pursuing one. You should be able to pick up a copy within 10 days of your request. In most cases, the police report will be available at the police station in the jurisdiction where the accident happened.

Hawaii Auto Insurance Requirements

No matter which island you're driving on, you must carry liability insurance in Hawaii. While you can choose to pay higher premiums for more coverage, the required minimums are:

  • $20,000 for bodily injury per person/$40,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $10,000 for property damage per accident

All drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance as well. PIP is designed to pay medical expenses for both you and anyone injured while riding in your vehicle. The minimum allowed is:

  • $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) per person

It will be suggested that you purchase uninsured/underinsured insurance coverage as well, with both having minimums of $20,000 to protect you in case of a hit-and-run accident or a motorist with no or too little insurance coverage. You can choose not to purchase this for your insurance policy but must decline the coverage in writing.

You also have the option to purchase other forms of insurance, such as comprehensive insurance and collision insurance.

Proof of insurance must be shown on demand.

Liability, Fault, and Compensation in Hawaii

After an accident, you want to know how things are being paid for and who'll be doing the paying. In Hawaii, it's a bit complex.

Hawaii is a no-fault state. This means that regardless of who is determined to be the most responsible for causing the accident, your PIP will cover your own medical expenses. Even if the other driver is 100% at fault, you have no recourse against them for medical bills unless:

  • Your medical expenses are more than $5,000
  • You suffer an injury that’s a significant loss of use of a part of the body
  • You suffer an injury that’s a significant disfigurement that causes pain and suffering
  • Someone is killed in the accident

If any of these apply, you have the option of filing a third-party claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company or pursuing the matter in civil court. If you choose the latter, consider meeting with a car accident attorney for legal advice on how to proceed.

While Hawaii's no-fault system applies to bodily injuries, it doesn’t exempt the at-fault driver from property damage liability.

The Hawaii doctrine of modified comparative negligence matters when discussing recovery amounts. If you're found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you’re barred from receiving any damages.

You can be awarded damages if you are determined to be 50% or less responsible for the car crash. But the amount you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If your damages are set at $20,000 and you're 25% at fault, you'll receive $15,000 as your settlement (25% of $20,000 is $5,000, so $20,000 - $5,000 = $15,000).

While limits for most non-economic damages can't exceed $375,000, there’s no cap in Hawaii for economic damages beyond adjustment from the modified comparative negligence system.

Between the claim you file with your insurance carrier and wrangling with the at-fault driver's insurance company, you're going to spend a good deal of time in the world of insurance. To understand what to expect every step of the way, dig into FindLaw's Hawaii Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline article.

Hawaii Car Accident Compensation Law Summary

The table below recaps what we've discussed above. It also has informative links about seeking compensation in Hawaii after an auto accident.

Statute of Limitations

Two years for personal injury claims (Hawaii Revised Statutes Division 4. Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 657-7)

Limits on Damages

None for economic damages; $375,000 for non-economic damages with some exceptions

Other Limits

Modified Comparative Negligence System (Hawaii Revised Statutes Division 4. Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 663-31)

Note: State regulations are subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

More Questions About Auto Accident Compensation in Hawaii

Every accident is complex, and it's impossible to predict exactly what you'll need to know. That being said, some elements are more common than others. The answers below may be helpful in your situation.

What exactly is ‘pain and suffering’?

On the surface, this seems like a simple question. But it becomes much more complicated once asked in a legal arena. In Hawaii, pain and suffering is a legal term for both the physical and emotional distress caused by a physical injury.

It's difficult to put a quantifiable measure on pain and suffering. But some factors courts may use include:

  • Age of the injured person
  • Severity of the injury
  • Potential for ongoing consequences
  • The amount of economic loss suffered
  • Whether the injured had preexisting conditions

There are no set amounts awarded for pain and suffering cases. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who knows the applicable insurance laws to get a case examination.

My wrist was messed up in the accident, and as time goes on, it's getting worse. I'm doing therapy and getting medical care, but I'm going to exceed my PIP limit soon. When is it too late to file a lawsuit for a personal injury case?

The period you have to file a case in is known as a statute of limitations. In Hawaii, you have two years from the date of the accident to bring a personal injury lawsuit. If you try to file after that, the court will not permit you to file.

Maybe I'm missing something, but are there any billboards in Hawaii?

I wouldn't say you're missing them, Bob. Hawaii doesn't permit billboards, classifying them as both a dangerous distraction while driving and an affront to the natural beauty of the Aloha State. In February 2024, the Hawaii Legislature defeated a bill seeking to allow billboards and electronic advertising outside a stadium.

Hawaii Car Accident Compensation Laws: Related Resources

Need More Help? Contact a Hawaii Attorney

Your car accident claim might be as simple as filing a claim with your policy. Or it could involve insurance claims, lawsuits, and arguments over fault that could bar your car insurance claim.

Hawaii's unique car accident compensation laws limit claims that aren't handled the right way. So, consider discussing your case with an experienced car accident lawyer.

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