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What's Wrong with the Legal System in Hawaii
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This webpage will discuss what's wrong with the legal system in Hawaii as it pertains to auto accident injury cases.
There are many flaws with Hawaii's legal system when it comes to the rights of those who have been injured in car crashes. Certainly, Hawaii is not the worst state in the country when it comes to the rights of those who have been injured; however, Hawaii's legal system could use much improvement.
The lobbying efforts of Hawaii injury lawyers over the past couple of decades have been very helpful when it comes to legislation designed to protect those who have been injured in accidents. Unfortunately, in spite of their best efforts, they are going against powerful, multi-billion dollar insurance companies. These insurance companies no doubt spend many times more money on lobbying efforts than do the Hawaii injury lawyers. Their investment in these efforts over the years have yielded substantial results.
One major flaw in our system of justice is the requirement that those who are injured in auto accidents must accumulate at least $5,000 in medical payments paid by their No-Fault insurance. Those who have been injured in accidents are not able to file lawsuits in court unless they have met this requirement. Many times this law results in victims of accidents not receiving any compensation for their injuries.
Another big problem with the legal system in Hawaii is that when there is a settlement for injuries, the medical insurance companies expect to be reimbursed for the bills they paid. This is a sad scenario when the settlement is not very substantial but the health insurance company expects to take a huge percentage of the settlement funds. The "make whole doctrine" should apply, which means that if a settlement is not sufficient to fully compensate a victim for their injuries, then the medical insurance companies can't take a part of the settlement. Unfortunately, many judges in Hawaii don't apply this doctrine. This leads to the billion dollar insurance companies receiving compensation while the victim is left with very little compensation for their injuries.
Another injustice in the Hawaii legal system is that the court system makes it very costly for injury victims to pursue their claims in court. The huge insurance companies don't mind paying lawyers to fight claims in court for years. They don't mind paying all the cost of litigation. These costs, which amount to thousands of dollars in each case, are trivial for large insurance companies; however, these costs can be a heavy burden for injured people of limited means.
The covered loss deductible is one of the worst parts of the legal system in Hawaii. The covered loss deductible in auto accident cases reduces arbitration and jury awards by up to $10,000. Many times an arbitrator or jury doesn't even realize that their award will be reduced under the law by $10,000. When we settle cases, it is always for "net of the CLD"; however, when a case is in arbitration or trial, the covered loss deductible can result in a huge reduction of the amount that the injury victim receives.