When an accident causes serious injury, Honolulu families look for answers.
While not all accidents will support a
personal injury claim filed in court, a personal injury case can arise from an accident
in a wide variety of situations.
Basic Requirements for a Personal Injury Claim
Most personal injury cases make the claim that the party who caused the
injury was negligent. In order to be considered "negligent,"
the party that caused the injury must have had a responsibility, or "duty,"
to the injured person and to have failed to use reasonable care in carrying
out that duty. This failure is commonly called a breach of duty.
An injured person must also demonstrate that the failure to use reasonable care
caused his or her injury. Even if a party is negligent, if the negligence did
not cause the harm the injured person suffered, the injured person cannot
prevail in court.
The injured person must show that the harm suffered is the kind that can
be compensated in court. In a personal injury case, liability is expressed
solely in terms of money damages. Types of harm that are often compensated
with damages in a personal injury claim include medical bills, lost wages,
pain and suffering, and property damage.
While most personal injury claims use the negligence standard, some are
based on a different standard of care. For instance, in a premises liability
case, certain parties who own or manage property are held to a higher
standard of care to make the property safe for business visitors such
as hotel guests.
Situations in Which a Personal Injury Claim Might Arise
Situations that often give rise to personal injury claims include:
Failure to use reasonable care when driving a car can make the driver liable
for any injuries inflicted on other people as a result. Personal injury
claims based on auto accidents include not only vehicle crashes, but also
accidents in which a car collides with a pedestrian, motorcyclist, or
While most auto accidents involve some degree of driver fault, not all
do. An auto accident claim may also include a claim against an auto manufacturer,
distributor, or repair shop if the vehicle or any of its parts contained
defects or were repaired improperly.
Slip and fall accidents fall under Hawaii's premises liability laws.
Many premises liability claims follow a slightly different set of rules
than ordinary negligence cases do. In a premises liability case, the relationship
between the injured person and the owner of the property is an important
consideration. For instance, property owners are held to a higher standard
of care when inviting people onto their property to do business than when
a person who enters the property is a trespasser.
Premises liability law covers not only slip and fall claims, but also any
kind of harm caused by the conditions of a piece of property. Accidental
drownings in swimming pools and injuries in building fires also typically
fall under premises liability law.
When a person is injured by a defective product, product liability law
governs any resulting personal injury case. Which rules apply depend on
what type of product caused the injury. Most product liability cases involve
a product that was defective in at least one of three ways:
- Manufacturing defects are defects in the materials used to make the product
or put it together. These defects are often invisible to the eye. In many
cases, an injured person could not have known the product was defective
until it was too late.
- Design defects occur when a product is made of appropriate materials, but
is fashioned in a defective manner. Missing safety guards, a base too
narrow or weak for the height of the item, and similar problems are often
classified as design defects.
- Failure to warn defects occur when a product cannot be made completely
safe, but it does not come with warnings that would let a consumer know
about the potential risks.
A wrongful death claim arises when a personal injury proves fatal. In fact,
it is possible to think of a wrongful death case as a case in which the
injured person could have filed a personal injury claim if he or she had
lived. Instead, the claim must be filed by the surviving family members.
Damages in a wrongful death claim typically include not only the losses
suffered by the injured person from medical bills, lost earning power,
and property damage, but also the losses suffered by the family as a result
of their loved one's untimely death. These include harms like the
loss of the care and companionship of a spouse, parent, or child.
Think you have a personal injury claim? Have more questions? Don't
hesitate to contact the experienced Honolulu personal injury attorneys
at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner.