Hawaii Personal Injury Law
Statutes of Limitations: The amount of time you have to sue whoever caused your injury or damage.
- Personal Injury – 2 years from the discovery of the injury
- Damage to Personal Property – 2 years
- Medical Malpractice – 2 years from the discovery of the injury, but no more than 6 years after the act that caused the injury
- Legal Malpractice – 6 years from the malpractice
- Other Professional Malpractice – 2 years
Where to Sue:
- Personal injury claims under $3,500 - Hawaii Small Claims Court (a division of each Hawaii District Court)
- Personal injury claims between $3,500-$25,000 - Hawaii District Court
- Personal injury claims over $25,000 - Hawaii Circuit Court
How to Sue:
Small Claims Court:
- Forms: File the Small Claims Statement of Claim form with the clerk of the small claims division of the District Court where the defendant resides or where the injury occurred. The clerk will prepare a Notice informing the defendant that he is being sued and must report to small claims court on a specific date. The forms may also be obtained from the clerk in the Service Center in the Hawaii District Court where you intend to file suit.
- How to notify the defendant (service): The plaintiff may serve the defendant by registered or certified mail or by requesting someone not a party to the case, over the age of 18 to deliver the Statement of a Claim and Notice to the defendant.
- Proving the defendant was notified: If service was by mail, the plaintiff must produce the registered or certified mail receipt to the judge at the trial. But, if personal service was used, the plaintiff must file a Return of Service signed by the person who served the defendant, prior to the small claims trial date.
- Attorneys: You may have a lawyer represent you in Hawaii Small Claims Court.
- Appealing a small claim: Allowed in Hawaii Small Claims Court.
Hawaii District Court: Ask a Hawaii personal injury lawyer to assist you in preparing and filing your personal injury case in Hawaii Small Claims Court to avoid making mistakes and suffering detrimental consequences (such as the loss of your claim, or court fines).
- Forms: Complaint (Form 1DC09); Summons (Form 1DC50).
- How to File: The Complaint and Summons must be filed with the clerk of the Hawaii District Court where the defendant lives, or where your injury happened. After filing your complaint, someone not a party to the case over age 18 should personally serve the Complaint and Summons on the defendant, or you should mail the Complaint and Summons to the defendant by certified or registered mail.
What to Do if You Are Being Sued:
- Time to respond to a Summons in Hawaii: 20 days
- Inform your insurance carrier if the plaintiff’s injury occurred at your home or place of business. If your insurance policy covers the occurrence that resulted in the injury, your insurance carrier may provide you with legal representation. If your insurance company does not provide you with legal representation, it is imperative that you consult an attorney to help you with your case.
What to Do if a Judgment Was Entered Against You:
A Hawaii District Court will enter a default judgment against you if you do not respond to the Plaintiff’s Summons and Complaint within 20 days of receipt. Having a default judgment declared against you means that the plaintiff has won the case by default, and you must pay what the plaintiff demanded in his Complaint. An attorney will be able to help you file the paperwork to set aside a default judgment.
- Time to Set Aside a Judgment in Hawaii:
- A Hawaii court can set aside a judgment for mistake, inadvertence, surprise, excusable neglect, fraud, misrepresentation or misconduct of an adverse party, or for newly discovered evidence for up to one year after entry of the judgment.
- A Hawaii court may set aside a default judgment for good cause shown.
Ways to Collect Your Judgment:
- If the defendant refuses to pay the judgment when you have been successful in your Hawaii personal injury lawsuit, you may satisfy the judgment by garnishment, attachment, sequestration, or replevin. You should get the advice of a Hawaii debt collection attorney to determine which course of action is best for your case, and to help you file the necessary paperwork.