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Honolulu, HI 96813
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91-1001 Kaimalei Street, Suite 204B
Ewa Beach, HI 96706
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Mr. Barlow is the Author of "The Ultimate Guide to Accident Injury Cases in Hawaii." Available at:
Worked for the
United States Air Force
Member of the Board of Governors of the Hawaii Association for Justice
How do you know if you have a valid Hawaii injury case?
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One of the most frequent questions we receive is whether someone has a case worth pursuing. The first thing to consider is whether the other driver is liable for the accident. In other words, was the accident caused by the other driver? You don't have a valid case if the other driver wasn't at least 51% at fault. The negligence law in Hawaii is: "modified comparative fault". If the other driver is atleast 51% at fault, than he has to pay you for the percentage of your damages for which he is at fault. For example, if the other driver is 60% at fault and your injuries are worth $10,000, than he has to pay you $6,000. If he's only 50% at fault, than he doesn't have to pay you anything.
A common mistake that people make is to just consider the extent of their damages. For example, they may think that because their damages are very extensive than the other driver has to pay them for their damages even though the other driver isn't at fault. If the other driver isn't at fault, than it doesn't matter how big or small your damages are. So the first thing to do is to objectively consider whether the other person is at least 51% at fault or not.
Many people that call us get upset when we inform them that we aren't able to accept their case because the other driver wasn't at fault for the accident. We are more than happy to discuss any questions that people may have, but we don't have the power to change the laws in Hawaii which require the other person to be at least 51% at fault for the accident.
Once you've determined that the other driver was at fault, the next question is whether you have sufficient damages to justify pursuing a case. When we speak of damages, we are talking about your injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, vehicle damage, wage loss, future wage loss, etc. If you only have a headache for a day and a couple scratches on your car, than it's probably not worth your time pursuing a case. However, if you have whiplash, need to go to the hospital, and need physical therapy, than it's probably worth your effort to pursue a claim.
The simplest and quickest way to determine if you have a good case is whether a lawyer will take your case. Most Hawaii injury lawyers offer free consultations so there is no harm in calling a lawyer to discuss your case. Most injury lawyers have many years of experience and have handled hundreds of car accident cases, so we'll know pretty quickly whether you have a case worth pursuing or not. After all, most injury lawyers on Oahu, and throughout Hawaii, work on contingency. This means that we don't get paid until we get a settlement for our clients. We would go out of business if we took a lot of bad cases where we didn't end up getting a settlement for our clients. This is why I say that the very best way to know if you have a valid case or not is to call a Hawaii auto accident attorney. If they want to take your case, than you have a good case. If they don't want to take your case, than you probably don't have a case worth pursuing.
Don't get discouraged if the first lawyer you call doesn't want to take your case. Some law firms are very large with lots of secretaries and paralegals to pay, so they can only accept cases with extremely serious injuries. If the first lawyer doesn't want your case than keep calling around. We recommend that you call at least 3-5 injury law firms before giving up and accepting that you probably don't have a case worth pursuing. Rest assured, if you do have a good case, the lawyers will all be begging to take your case.