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The Process for Honolulu Auto Accident Cases
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This page will discuss the case procedure for Honolulu auto accident cases. This step by step process is intended to give a very basic overview of how auto accident cases work in Honolulu and throughout Hawaii.
1. Hire a Hawaii Injury Lawyer. The lawyer you hire must be licensed in Hawaii. You should look for a lawyer who primarily handles auto accident injuries. This area of law if very complicated, so it is critical that you hire a lawyer who focuses his practice on Hawaii injury law.
2. Your lawyer will contact the insurance companies involved. This will include your insurance company so that they will pay the first $10,000 of your medical bills known as Personal Injury Protection, or No Fault Insurance. This will also include the insurance company for the other driver. This will be the company that will pay for all of your other medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, and any other damages due to the collision.
3. You will obtain as much medical treatment as necessary. You do not want to rush this process. Take your time and get as much treatment as you need to fully recover from your auto accident injuries. Obtain consistent treatment. Do not let large gaps of time go by without getting treatment.
4. Once you have completed all of your treatment, your injury lawyer will order all of your medical records and bills. He will then organize all of your records and bills and write out a summary of your treatment. All of these documents will then be sent to the other driver's insurance company for their review.
5. Assuming that the insurance company accepts liability for the collision, then they will most likely make a settlement offer to resolve your injury claim.
6. Once your Hawaii accident lawyer receives the settlement offer, he will negotiate with the insurance company to get their offer as high as possible. He will continue this settlement negotiation until the insurance adjustor indicates that they have reached their final offer and are no longer able to make any additional offers.
7. Your lawyer will then discuss their settlement offer with you and you will be able to decide whether to accept their offer or take them to court. As long as their offer is reasonable, than you should seriously consider taking the offer. If the settlement offer is completely unreasonable, than it makes it easier for you to decide whether to take them to court. Your lawyer will explain that the court process can be very long, time consuming, and stressful. This is why you should strongly consider taking a reasonable settlement offer.
8. If you decide to take the negligent driver to court, than your lawyer will first file a complaint in Hawaii Circuit Court. The complaint will then be served on the other driver.
9. The first part of the judicial process is the Court Annexed Arbitration Program. During this process an attorney will be assigned to be the case arbitrator. The arbitration is usually held after the parties have conducted discovery. This is the process in which they obtain evidence related to the car accident case. The opposing attorneys will send you interrogatories to complete. These are a long list of questions for you to sign and notarize. The other lawyers will also want to take your deposition. This is when they ask you questions with a court reporter present to type all of the questions and answers. The deposition usually takes between a half day and a whole day.
10. At the arbitration the arbitrator will hear testimony from all of the involved parties. He will then issue the arbitration award. Either of the parties can appeal the award. The case will then go to the regular court process which leads to the trial. The appealing party must obtain an award at least 30% better at the trial or he will have to pay penalties. Therefore, as long as the arbitration award is somewhat reasonable, than you should not take the chance of not getting a 30% better award at trial.
11. The last step in this Hawaii auto accident case process is the trial. The trial will usually last between 3-5 days, depending on how complicated the issues are. The losing party at the trial may have to pay the trial expenses for the winning party. Therefore, you should not take the case all the way to trial unless you are very confident that you will win. As the injured party, you should keep in mind that many people on the jury may not be very sympathetic. Most of them will not have been injured in an accident. Many of them may be disgruntled because they are missing work and may be losing money. Many of them may have the false assumption that injury cases make their insurance premiums go up. You should take all of these factors into account when you are deciding whether to take a case to trial or not.