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 bicyclist.
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:
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.