Immediately following a collision, an injured person often does not have complaints of pain due to the adrenaline effect that occurs. It’s quite common that an injured party doesn’t feel their pain until hours later, after the adrenaline effect has worn off. Moreover, following a car accident that’s left you injured or with extensive property damage, you may feel overwhelmed with the task of seeking an insurance settlement or filing a personal injury claim. Not only are you attending to your medical needs and damage done to your vehicle, but you also may be unable to work and are concerned about how you’ll be able to pay your bills.
During this process, it can be invaluable to work with a car accident attorney who can answer all your questions and help you get the compensation you deserve. Specifically, you should understand how to get an accident report and why it’s so important to your claims process. If you’re in the Honolulu, Hawaii, area or anywhere throughout the Hawaiian islands, including Maui, Big Island, Kauai, Lanai, and Molokai, call us at Daniel T Pagliarini AAL to schedule a consultation.
Hawaii Accident Reporting Requirements
One of the first questions people have after they’ve been involved in an accident is, “Am I required to report the car accident?” It’s essential to understand what state law requires. If the accident resulted in the death or injury of anyone or if the property damage exceeds $3,000, you are required by law to report it to law enforcement. The costs of autobody repairs have gone up dramatically in recent years, so it doesn’t take much to reach that $3,000 figure. If you call 911 and request it, an officer will come to the crash scene and collect evidence to include in a Hawaii Motor Vehicle Accident Report.
Why Is a Police Report Important?
Obtaining a copy of your official accident report is a crucial step for filing a personal injury claim, though you’ll have to take other steps first. Hawaii is a no-fault state regarding car accidents, which means that regardless of fault, your insurance carrier will cover your accident-related medical bills under your “PIP” (personal injury protection) coverage, often limited to the mandatory minimum coverage of $10,000.
Beyond that, you must then treat under your personal health insurance coverage. You must file a claim through your own insurance first, regardless of who was at fault. However, this coverage is often inadequate for covering all of your expenses, and you may need to file a bodily injury claim or pursue a lawsuit. If this is the case, you’ll need as much evidence as you can to prove fault and damages, and a motor vehicle accident (“MVA”) report can be very beneficial to your claim.
Another reason why a police report is valuable is because it is an unbiased third-party report of a car accident. It includes information like where and when the accident took place, whether or not there were injuries, and if either of the vehicles were damaged. Police officers may also gather statements from you, your passengers, the other driver, their passengers, and any people who witnessed the crash.
What Information Is in the Report?
A MINOR accident report (no injuries reported or property damage of less than $3,000) contains very basic information and no details of the incident. A MAJOR motor vehicle accident report (injuries reported or property damage of more than $3,000) contains details of the collision, such as the date, time, and location; the persons and vehicles involved, including eyewitnesses; personal information of the drivers; a description of any injuries; and a description of the weather and the condition of the roadways. The report can also include details about any drugs and alcohol that may have been a factor, a narrative description of the event, and the specifics about each car such as the make and model, GVW, and how many passengers were in each car and where they were seated.
How to Obtain a Police Report
You can obtain a copy of your car accident report by first calling the records division of the police department and first confirming it’s completed and ready. You then should visit the main police station and for just a few dollars can obtain a copy of the report. You can also pick this up for someone else, but you will need written authorization to do so.
Keep Your Police Report on File
Even if you don’t need the police report right away, you should have a copy of it to keep on file. If you realize your side mirror was knocked loose or a scratch or bruise becomes more serious, your police report will be one of the most important pieces of evidence in your case.
Think of filing a police report as protecting yourself. You never know what another person will say and do, and physical and medical damage can always emerge later once the stress of the situation has worn off.
Even if you don’t decide to make an insurance claim right away – or at all – the facts of your accident will be more difficult to dispute if you have a police report on record. You should keep a copy of your police report in the same way you keep a receipt after a large purchase.
Make a report with your insurance company as soon as you notice any damage to your vehicle, and if you end up having a serious injury, contact an attorney as soon as it comes to light.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Hawaii
While you’re not required to use a lawyer, many accident victims find it invaluable to retain a personal injury attorney to pursue their bodily injury claim and bring a lawsuit, if necessary. You only have two years from the date of the last medical no-fault payment to file a lawsuit, and this will go by faster than you think. You should also be aware of Hawaii’s comparative negligence rule which states you can only seek damages if you were less than 50% liable for an accident. It’s here that an experienced attorney can be most helpful, working with you to gather evidence and build a convincing case.
Strong & Dependable Legal Representation
If you’ve suffered bodily injuries in a motor vehicle accident on any of the Hawaiian islands because of someone else’s fault, call us for a FREE consultation. Daniel T Pagliarini AAL has been serving Hawaii’s injured for more than three decades.