State car insurance systems generally come in two forms: fault or no-fault. It’s an important distinction because it dictates how you can recover compensation after a car accident. Hawaii is a no-fault state.
If you were recently hurt in a crash on Maui or a neighboring island, you should get help with the insurance claim process. Call Menzer Law Firm to talk with experienced car accident lawyer Matt Menzer. You can use the online form or call (808) 400-3726 to set up a consultation.
The Difference Between Fault and No-Fault States
Most states have fault-based insurance systems. The insurance company for the driver at fault for the crash is primarily responsible for compensating the people who were not at fault.Usually, the at-fault driver’s insurance takes care of the property damage and medical bills, and these states typically require drivers to carry a certain amount of liability insurance.
No-fault states work a little differently. You carry insurance to protect yourself. After a collision, each driver turns to their insurer to cover their medical bills. It doesn’t matter if you were at fault for the accident; your insurance will cover your injury-related costs.
Bodily Injuries vs. Property Damage
The no-fault part of the Hawaii insurance system refers to bodily injuries, not property damage. If your vehicle is damaged in a crash in Hawaii, you’ll still have the at-fault driver’s insurance pay to repair or replace it.
Do Other States Have No-Fault Systems?
Yes, 11 others are no-fault states: Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Utah.
Is a No-Fault State Better?
You might wonder if one system is better than the other. That depends on how you look at things. It’s never bad to have insurance that can cover some of your bills if you cause an accident. The disadvantage to the no-fault system is that you can’t automatically sue. You have to have serious injuries that exceed the insurance coverage to be entitled to sue the at-fault driver.
Hawaii’s Auto Insurance Requirements
Hawaii requires all vehicle owners to purchase auto insurance. Your policy must have personal injury protection (PIP) of at least $10,000 per person. This type of insurance covers medical and rehabilitation costs.
You also have to buy at least $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident for bodily injury liability coverage, and $10,000 for property damage coverage. These policies kick in when you are at fault for an accident, and someone else needs compensation for their medical expenses (after their PIP) and vehicle repairs.
Is Hawaii a No-Fault State if I Have to Buy Liability Insurance?
Yes, Hawaii considers itself a no-fault state. That’s because it expects you to use your PIP insurance first, no matter who caused the accident.
What Does PIP Insurance Cover?
PIP pays your medical bills and certain other financial losses related to your injuries. It might cover the ambulance, health insurance deductibles, diagnostic tests, surgery, other medical bills, medical equipment, and even services you have to pay for because you can’t do something yourself.
It won’t pay for your pain and suffering, though. If you are seriously hurt in a crash, talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer about whether you can sue and recover compensation for your physical pain, mental distress, and other damages.
Things to Know About PIP Insurance
You aren’t going to receive a check automatically. You have to notify your insurance company of the accident and go through the claims process. Your insurance company will assign an adjuster to your claim, and this person will investigate the crash and review your medical records. If the incident is covered, then you’ll receive compensation.
There are instances when your insurer can deny your claim. Review your policy carefully. Even though PIP insurance is meant to cover your injuries no matter who was at fault, egregious conduct (gross negligence) on your part could lead to claim denial.
It also doesn’t pay for non-medical expenses, but you can pay for a policy that does. For example, you can get a PIP policy that covers wage loss. It will compensate you for a certain amount of lost income. It’s usually capped at a certain amount each month and a certain amount total.
Should I Buy More Auto Insurance?
Possibly, yes. It never hurts to be covered, but it depends on your vehicle’s value and your finances. If you’re on a strict budget, make sure you can carry at least the minimum amount of PIP, personal injury liability, and property damage liability coverage.
Other types of insurance that can be useful, though they aren’t required in Hawaii, are:
- Uninsured Motorist: This covers damages when you’re hurt by a driver who didn’t carry liability insurance. This can also be used if you’re the victim of a hit and run.
- Underinsured Motorist: This covers the cost of damages above what the other driver’s insurance can cover.
- Collision: This covers vehicle repairs and replacement if you’re in a crash, no matter who was at fault.
- Comprehensive: This covers damage to your vehicle from events other than traffic accidents, like vandalism or theft.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is highly encouraged. In fact, insurance companies in Hawaii have to advise you of this type of policy and give you the option to buy it. If you don’t want it, you have to decline the coverage in writing. But if you choose to get uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you can start with $20,000 per person to cover serious injuries or death.
When Can I Sue the Other Driver?
The point of a no-fault system is to reduce the number of car accident lawsuits. But sometimes, going to court is appropriate. If you sustain serious injuries in a crash, then the amount of compensation you need to cover your medical expenses could be well-above your PIP limits. The only way to get those damages covered is to file a lawsuit.
You also could sue a negligent driver if the crash caused your spouse, parent, or child’s death. It’s best to talk with an experienced Maui car accident lawyer after a fatal crash. Matt Menzer can explain Hawaii’s wrongful death laws and how they apply to your situation.
You can determine your right to sue in two ways, either by the type of injury or the total cost. Injuries that cause serious permanent disfigurement, serious permanent loss of the use of a body part or system, or death give you the right to sue. Also, injuries that cost you more than $5,000 give you the right to sue.
You have two years from the date of the crash to file a personal injury lawsuit.
The Most Important Question: Should I Hire a Lawyer?
If you were seriously hurt in an accident that someone else caused, then yes, contact Menzer Law Firm right away.
Matt Menzer has over 30 years of experience tackling car accident injury claims with insurers and in court. He can help you navigate a first-party claim with your PIP insurance carrier and a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance provider. And he can file a lawsuit on your behalf when needed.