Car Accident Lawyer in Hilo Serving Throughout The Big Island
Experienced Hilo Injury Attorney Helping Victims of Hawaii Auto Accidents
Hundreds of people die every year in auto accidents in Hawaii, and thousands more are injured. The sad truth is that the vast majority of these accidents could have been prevented had people simply chosen to drive with more care. Instead, people engage in speeding, texting while driving and other distracted driving, drinking and driving, and other negligent or dangerous behaviors that we all know should not occur. Hilo car accident lawyer Louis P. Mendonca helps Hawaii auto accident victims hold negligent drivers accountable and obtain compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other legal damages. If you have been injured in an auto accident due to the negligence of another on the Big Island, contact Louis P. Mendonca, Attorney at Law, at 808-961-6690.
Understanding Hawaii Auto Insurance Laws
Every driver in Hawaii is obligated to carry both no-fault and liability insurance in at least the minimum amounts required by law. This includes $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (no-fault) coverage for medical and rehabilitative costs after an accident. Additionally, drivers must carry bodily injury liability of at least $20,000 per person injured up to a total of $40,000 per accident, and property damage liability at a minimum of $10,000.
Generally, the first place to look for compensation when you have been injured in a car accident is your PIP insurance. This policy should pay for your medical bills, including rehabilitation, up to your policy limits without regard to who was at fault in the accident.
If your bills exceed the amount of PIP coverage you have, or if you incurred serious and permanent injuries in the accident, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. A “serious and permanent injury” in this regard must be one of the following:
- Significant and permanent loss of use of a body part or bodily function
- Permanent and serious disfigurement causing mental or emotional distress
When filing a claim under the negligent driver’s bodily injury policy, you will have to be able to prove not only the nature and extent of your injuries, but also that the other driver was negligent, and that the driver’s negligence is the cause of your injuries. Insurance companies will often try to claim that your own negligence caused the accident, or that your injuries are exaggerated or existed prior to the accident. Having an attorney prepare and present your case can be critical to a successful claim, whether negotiating a settlement with the insurance company or taking your case to court if necessary to get the full amount of compensation.
What if the driver was uninsured?
Even though all drivers in Hawaii are required to carry insurance, about nine percent, or a little less than one in ten registered drivers are not insured. This translates to about 100,000 drivers in the state without insurance, who could be on the road at any time. What happens if you are hit by an uninsured driver, or if you are injured in a hit and run and cannot identify the driver or vehicle that hit you?
In this case, you can file a claim under your Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. UM coverage of at least $20,000 is included in all liability insurance policies, unless you declined this coverage in writing. UM coverage is only a small fraction of your premium and is well worth purchasing considering the risk of being hit by an uninsured driver. This coverage also comes with Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, which can be accessed when the cost of your injuries exceed the other driver’s minimal liability coverage.
Filing a UM/UIM claim with your insurance company is similar to filing a claim against the other driver’s liability policy. The insurance company will try to downplay the extent of your injuries or exaggerate your role in causing the accident in order to deny your claim or reduce its value, and you will need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side who knows the true value of your claim and will make sure you are not unfairly treated by the insurance company.
Call Attorney Louis Mendonca for Help after a Serious Hawaii Auto Accident
If you have been injured in an auto accident on the Big Island, call Hilo personal injury attorney Louis P. Mendonca at 808-961-6690 for a free consultation regarding your options for obtaining full and fair compensation for your injuries and legal damages.