If you have been involved in an accident in Hawaii, you only have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim for compensation. This time limit remains in place regardless of whether you were hurt in a car crash, pedestrian accident, slip and fall, or any other type of accident.
Two years sounds like a long time. But when it comes to injury claims, it’s really not. It’s important to act quickly so that you can get the evidence necessary to prove your case for compensation.
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What Does Statute of Limitations Mean?
All U.S. states have a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. Simply put, the statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a claim. These time limits are not the same for every state or every type of claim. It’s important to learn the statute of limitations for your state so that you don’t lose out on compensation because of a missed deadline.
What is the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Hawaii?
Most personal injury claims in Hawaii have a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the accident. There are some exceptions.
For example, if you are filing an injury claim against a municipal government in Hawaii, you must file these claims within six months of the accident. Or if a patient was injured by medical malpractice, the clock starts could start running on the date of the injury or the date when the victim discovered (or should have discovered) the injury. The statute of limitations could also be longer in car accident cases involving personal injury protection (PIP) payments.
Other exceptions include if the accident victim is a minor or incapacitated and unable to file a claim within two years. A minor has two years from his/her 18th birthday to file a claim. For someone who was incapacitated, the clock starts ticking two years from the date he/she recovered enough to start the process of seeking compensation.
Because the time limits could differ based on the facts of your case, it’s a good idea to check with a Hawaii personal injury attorney about the statute of limitations for your claim.
What Happens if I Miss the Deadline?
In most cases, if you miss the statute of limitations, you will likely forfeit your right to secure compensation. Hawaii recognizes that potentially negligent parties should not have the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit hanging them over for an indefinite period of time. Additionally, the passage of time can cause memories to fade and evidence to be lost or erased. If you allow the statute of limitations to expire, you will likely be unable to file a claim for compensation.
What If I Started Filing My Claim but Two Years has Passed?
Many people are shocked at how long the personal injury process can take. While some cases are resolved within just a few months, others can take years before a fair and final settlement or verdict is reached. In these instances, it is easy to panic and think that you can no longer recover compensation because the statute of limitations has passed.
Fortunately, the statute of limitations only applies to the amount of time you have to file your claim. As long as your case is filed on time and within two years of the accident, or two years under an exception to the rule, you preserve your right to compensation. The statute of limitations only refers to the amount of time you have to file your claim and not the amount of time in which your case must be finalized.
Can I Switch Attorneys After the Statute of Limitations Has Passed?
Not all attorneys are created equally. At some point during your case, you may think about switching lawyers to work with one that is more compatible with you or that you believe can secure better results for your case. In Hawaii, you are allowed to switch attorneys at any point.
However, if the statute of limitations has already passed and your claim has not yet been filed, you will likely have a hard time finding a lawyer that will take your case. There is little that an attorney can do once the statute of limitations has expired because the law is so firm. On the other hand, if your original lawyer has already filed your claim, you can still switch lawyers if the statute of limitations has passed. You will not need to file a whole new claim.
Still, it is important that you try and find the right attorney for your case as soon as possible after an accident. It is always easier to work with the same lawyer from the very beginning. It is also important that you provide the attorney with enough time to conduct an investigation, collect evidence, and speak with experts that can provide additional information about your case.
Contact Recovery Law Center if You Have Been Injured
Were you hurt in an accident in Honolulu? If so, it’s important to seek dedicated and compassionate legal help as soon as possible.
Look to Recovery Law Center. For years, Attorney Glenn Honda has fought for the rights of accident victims throughout Oahu. Our law firm is committed to getting maximum compensation for individuals with as little disruption to their lives as possible. Let us take on the insurance company for you.