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What to Do After a Single-Vehicle Accident in Hawaii

April 19, 2023

Most victims of accidents in Hawaii find dealing with the aftermath to be a terrifying experience. Regardless of the kind of accident in which you were involved, one thing is certain: you will confront a variety of challenges during your recovery.

Of course, most drivers are familiar with the most common types of collisions and may even have some understanding of fault. But how does fault work in single-car accidents?

You may be surprised to find that fault in single-vehicle crashes isn’t always clear-cut. No matter the circumstances, you should talk to a lawyer. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you need an attorney who knows how to protect your legal rights.

Data on Hawaii’s Traffic Accidents

Our state’s Department of Transportation reports an annual death toll from Hawaii traffic accidents of between 120 and 150 people. What’s more, most of these fatal accidents occur due to carelessness or negligence on the part of other motorists.

In the Aloha State, the leading causes of car accidents are excessive speeding and drunk driving. The largest number of speed-related fatalities occurred throughout Honolulu and Honolulu County, the state’s most populous area.

Moreover, distracted driving also accounts for a significant portion of all car crashes. Distracted driving was responsible for nearly 21% of all traffic deaths in Hawaii in a single year, significantly higher than the national average of 8%. Unsurprisingly, the most frequently reported cause behind this data was distracted by a cell phone or electronic device.

Determining Fault After a Single-Vehicle Wreck in Hawaii

Hawaii observes a “no-fault” system. This means that regardless of fault, you will likely need to submit a claim under your auto insurance to recover any costs associated with an auto accident.

In order to bypass this no-fault rule and file a case against a negligent driver directly, your injury claim must satisfy certain criteria.

When an accident involves a single vehicle, the driver typically shoulders the fault, regardless of whether they were trying to avoid hitting an animal or piece of road debris. Still, there are situations in which a driver in this scenario may not be to blame or might share fault with another party.

When Are Drivers Not At-Fault in Single-Car Crashes?

First and foremost, drivers aren’t often at fault in single-vehicle accidents when they swerve to avoid a more severe collision with a negligent or reckless driver.

For instance, say a driver is heading southbound on a two-lane road. To the north, another driver is distracted and begins to veer into the southbound lanes of traffic. In an attempt to avoid a collision, the first motorist swerves and then crashes. This is an example of a single-car accident because no other vehicle was involved. But the crash ultimately occurred because of another driver.

Hazardous Driving Conditions in Single-Vehicle Wrecks

You may also be able to file a claim against the local municipality or other organization responsible for maintaining the roads and highways in your area if the roadway is unsafe or unmaintained, such as when there is a hazard on the road that should have been removed.

Keep in mind that it’s usually not easy to prove that poor road conditions were to blame for an auto accident. A reasonable counterargument can be made that if the road conditions were as poor as claimed, the driver should have been driving more slowly or cautiously.

Still, a driver may be able to avoid fault for a single-car accident if he or she can make a convincing case that a large break in the asphalt or a major pothole occurred suddenly as a result of known instability in that portion of the roadway.

Manufacturer Fault in Car Accidents

Finally, if a vehicle malfunction or equipment failure contributed to a single-car accident, the driver may not be responsible for the incident.

The caveat is that the malfunction or breakdown must have taken place without warning. If a driver knew about the defect and did not fix it, they may still be at fault. As a defense, a manufacturer or automaker would say that a non-negligent driver would not have continued to operate a vehicle that was the subject of a recall notice or would keep their car off the road rather than allowing a known mechanical issue to worsen.

Comparative Negligence in Hawaii Accidents

Comparative negligence also comes into play in incidents. Let’s say you’re hurt in a car accident in Hawaii and decide to sue another driver’s insurance company or file a claim against the alleged at-fault party. The jury finds that the other driver was mostly at fault for the collision, but you also share a portion of the fault. What impact does this verdict have on your ability to collect damages?

The rule of modified “comparative negligence” is used in Hawaii. In other words, as long as your degree of fault is not larger than that of the other parties involved in the accident, you will be able to recover damages in a lawsuit, even if you contributed to the accident. Put simply, your share of the fault can’t exceed 50%.

The comparative negligence rule binds judges and juries in Hawaii (should your vehicle accident case go to trial), and insurance claims adjusters will also follow this guideline. Keep in mind that there is no scientific method for assigning fault, so determining fault here will come down to your ability to negotiate with a claims adjuster or convince a court or jury.

Call a Honolulu Personal Injury Lawyer After a Car Wreck

If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident in Hawaii due to another driver’s carelessness, our skilled legal team here at Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner is ready to help.

Vehicle accidents in Hawaii are common due to many factors. These include the state’s heavy traffic, drivers who are impaired, drivers who are distracted, and drivers who are careless.

After a terrible car accident changes our clients’ lives, we know how they feel. The mental anguish and severe physical pain or long-term damage that may arise from such incidents, in addition to the astronomical costs of treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care, can cast a pall over your life.

Needless to say, our attorneys are committed to helping those we represent get the compensation and justice they deserve following an accident.

Please contact our Honolulu auto accident attorneys at 808-537-2525 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a no-cost initial consultation with a member of our staff. After a vehicle accident, you need the support of our Honolulu personal injury lawyers to get the compensation you and your loved ones are entitled to, and we’re ready to secure the justice and fair settlement you deserve.

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