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Comparative Negligence in Hawaii Slip and Fall Cases

When you fall and hurt yourself on someone else’s property, and the fall can be linked to negligence on the part of the property owner, you may expect to be able to recover damages such as your medical expenses and compensation for your pain and suffering. While this is sometimes true, many Hawaiians are unaware that the state adheres to the doctrine of comparative negligence, which can reduce or eliminate your recovery in a personal injury lawsuit.

Under Hawaii’s comparative negligence rule, a court will determine who is responsible for an accident and how much fault each party bears. For example, a court may find that a property owner was 90 percent at fault for not mopping up a spill on their floor, but that the victim was also 10 percent at fault for failing to notice this visible spill.

In cases like this, a court will reduce your damages proportionally to the percentage of fault that you have been assigned for your own accident. Someone who is found not at all responsible for their own accident can receive 100 percent of the damages awarded by a court. Someone who is found to be 25 percent at fault will see their damages reduced by 25 percent, allowing them to recover 75 percent.

To see how this rule could apply to your slip and fall case, imagine that a court finds that your claim is worth $100,000 between medical expenses and other damages. If you were 25 percent responsible, you are entitled to 75 percent of the damages, able to recover $75,000 of the $100,000 total.

But what happens when an accident victim is more at fault than the defendant? Under Hawaii’s laws, a victim is not allowed to recover at all if they were more at fault than the defendant. In practice, this means that a victim who was 50 percent at fault can recover half of their damages, while a victim who is found to be 51 percent at fault cannot recover anything in court.

While these rules do not technically apply in settlement discussions, they will be taken into account, because the defendant will always attempt to show that your own fault would reduce your recovery in court.

If you have been involved in a slip and fall accident in or around Honolulu, the personal injury attorneys at Shim & Chang work to get you justice and compensation. We seek to prove your claim and absolve you of fault. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 808-524-5803.

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Roy K. S. Chang

With more than 30 years of practical and trial experience handling all types of personal injury cases, Roy K. S. Chang has molded Shim & Chang into a highly creative and innovative law firm that honors the Hawaiian spirit of aloha. He has achieved an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the national directory of attorneys, indicating…

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Harvey M. Demetrakopoulos

With his unique name and background, Harvey M. Demetrakopoulos' character and experience have greatly added to the creative and innovative approach of Shim & Chang. He has been with the firm since 1996, exclusively handling personal injury cases. Raised in Honolulu, Harvey graduated from Kaimuki High School and attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa…

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Alvin Tong Shim, Founder of Shim & Chang In Memoriam of Alvin Tong Shim, November 10, 1923 - June 24, 2006 The Spirit of Aloha Born in Wailuku, Maui on November 10, 1923, Alvin Tong Shim was the second child and first son of Henry and Helen Shim. As a young boy, he earned money…

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