Getting hurt in a car crash or another type of accident is devastating no matter what the circumstances might be. However, suffering injuries in an accident caused by another party’s negligence can be especially upsetting. You should not have to pay the price because of someone else’s careless actions. As you may know, when another party causes your injuries as a result of reckless or negligent behavior, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. At the same time, it is important to understand how comparative negligence might affect your claim.
In short, if you are concerned that you are partially to blame for the accident, or if you believe the other party is going to argue that you are partially at fault, it is important to speak with a Hawaii personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Lowenthal & Lowenthal LLC, we can develop a plan to move forward with your case and to prove that you are entitled to full compensation for your losses.
What is Comparative Negligence in a Hawaii Personal Injury Case?
Whether you believe that you may be partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, or if the defendant already has alleged that you share some of the blame, it is essential to learn more about comparative negligence and how it works in Hawaii.
Generally speaking, comparative negligence—which is sometimes discussed using the term comparative fault—comes up when a defendant argues that the plaintiff bears some of the responsibility for an accident. Accordingly, that defendant will argue, the plaintiff is not entitled to receive the full amount of compensation that she or he is seeking. In some states, comparative negligence is a complete bar to a plaintiff’s recovery. In other words, if a plaintiff is found to be even 1% at fault, then some states will say that plaintiff cannot recover anything. Other states allow a plaintiff to recover whether the plaintiff is 1% or 99% liable, but the plaintiff’s award will be reduced by her percentage of fault.
Hawaii falls in between these two scenarios. Under Hawaii law, a plaintiff can recover as long as she is not 51% or more at fault. The statute clarifies that “contributory negligence shall not bar recovery in any action . . . if such negligence was not greater than the negligence of the person or in the case of more than one person, the aggregate negligence of such persons against whom recovery is sought.” When a plaintiff in Hawaii is 50% or less at fault, her award will be reduced by her proportion of negligence. Once a Hawaii plaintiff is 51% or more at fault, she will be barred from recovery.
Understanding How Comparative Negligence Affects Cases in Practice
How does comparative negligence affect a Hawaii personal injury case in practice? Imagine a plaintiff is found to be 25% at fault. If a court in Hawaii awards the plaintiff $100,000 in damages, that award will be reduced by 25% (the plaintiff’s proportion of fault). In such a case, the plaintiff would recover $75,000.
If a court determines a plaintiff is 51% at fault, however, that plaintiff would recover nothing.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Hawaii
Do you need assistance with your personal injury claim? An experienced Hawaii personal injury attorney or Maui personal injury attorney can begin working on your case. Contact Lowenthal & Lowenthal LLC to learn more about how we can assist you.