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How to Prove Negligence in a Hawaii Personal Injury Case

May 10, 2023

There are several situations under which a personal injury claim can be filed in Hawaii. The legal term for negligence-based lawsuits is “tort.”

What’s more, these tort laws in Hawaii allow injured persons to file a claim against a defendant for damages that the defendant caused directly, even if the cause was not intentional. This is unlike the laws of intentional torts, which only allow you to sue the defendant for intentional or intended injury.

In other words, whether you’ve been involved in a vehicle crash, slip-and-fall accident, or dog attack, you can file a claim against the negligent party who failed in their duty of care to prevent harm to you or another person and collect damages. However, you first must prove negligence on the part of the other party in question.

How Do You Prove Negligence in Personal Injury?

First, you must establish that the at-fault party in your accident owes a “reasonable” duty of care to you and others. The need for this type of relationship is relevant when the law establishes a link connecting the plaintiff and the defendant that mandates certain conduct. For example, motorists have an obligation to everyone on the road to maintain a safe driving environment.

Moreover, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff to show that the defendant failed in their duty to the plaintiff.

Thus, when it comes to these claims and cases, an injured person or plaintiff must prove the following components of negligence to collect compensation from the responsible party or defendant:

  • The responsible person or entity had a duty of care in relation to the plaintiff.
  • The defendant’s failure to uphold the responsibility owed by a duty of care constitutes a breach of duty.
  • This breach directly caused the plaintiff’s damages (this is typically called “proximate cause”).

In other words, proximate cause requires the plaintiff to show that they were hurt by the defendant’s actions rather than by chance.

Negligence and Fault Laws in Hawaii

There are two types of negligence: comparative and contributory. In American law, pure comparative negligence, comparative (or “modified” comparative) negligence, and contributory negligence coexist. The form of comparative negligence is a matter for each state, but the various types are as follows:

  • Pure Comparative Negligence: Victims are entitled to compensation for their injuries on the basis of their share of fault.
  • Modified Comparative Negligence: To the extent that the injured person is not more than 50% or 51% at fault, they may secure a settlement based on their proportion of fault.
  • Contributory Negligence: An injured party cannot sue for compensation if they were even partially responsible for their own damages and injuries.

Only five states use the pure contributory negligence standard, while twelve use pure comparative negligence.

Types of Negligence in Hawaii

Hawaiian law on negligence does affect how you can proceed when it comes to personal injury claims for vehicle accidents and other types of personal injury. For instance, when someone is hurt in an auto accident in Hawaii, regardless of who was at fault, they must first file a claim with their insurance company.

When a defendant asserts that the plaintiff shares some fault for an accident, the issue of comparative negligence (also known as comparative fault) may be raised. The defense will next claim that the plaintiff is not entitled to the entire amount of damages sought.

Comparative negligence is a total impediment to recovery for a plaintiff in some jurisdictions. Some states have laws that prohibit compensation for a plaintiff who is even partially at fault. In some jurisdictions, a plaintiff can still win even if they are partially at fault, but their award amount will be lowered accordingly.

Damages Awarded By Negligence in Hawaii

How to Prove Negligence in a Hawaii Personal Injury CaseAccident damages in Hawaii are reduced by the amount of fault or comparative negligence attributable to the claimant, although recovery is still possible if the claimant’s contributory negligence is not larger than that of the defendant.

So, once again, the state of Hawaii uses the 51% rule of comparative negligence. This indicates that the injured party can seek compensation even if they were partially responsible for the incident (51% or less). In the event that the injured party is found to be 51% or more at fault, they will not be entitled to any compensation.

Additionally, this means that if the percentage of fault is below 51%, that amount will be deducted from the total damages that can be received.

As an example, if you tripped over a broken stair in an apartment building while you were on your phone, you might be 5% at fault for your medical expenses and any other damages, while your apartment’s property management company might be 95% at fault by not fixing the hazard. In this scenario, if your total settlement is $1,500, you would recoup $1,425 (the total award with your percentage of fault subtracted).

In the event that you’re filing a claim after an auto accident, you might have a scenario in which you’re assigned partial fault for speeding or not wearing your seatbelt, even if the other driver is mostly at fault.

Call Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner For Personal Injury

Our team of personal injury lawyers at Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner is always ready to fight for our client’s rights when they’ve been hurt. If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, our team will do everything it takes to get you the compensation you need and deserve.

The mental stress and physical suffering that often ensue from these incidents add insult to injury, on top of the astronomical costs of treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care.

Our Hawaii personal injury attorneys understand how challenging it may be for victims and their loved ones to deal with the aftermath of an accident.

Through it all, our injury attorneys are committed to assisting accident victims during each and every step of the case process in their pursuit of justice and fair recompense. Contact us at Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner by calling 808-537-2525 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a no-cost initial consultation and evaluation of your case.

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