Personal Injury

Honolulu Personal Injury Lawyers Ready to Help You After an Accident


If you or someone close to you is dealing with an injury due to another party’s negligence, it is important to work with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to explore your options for seeking compensation. Since 1966, Shim & Chang, Attorneys at Law has served injured people in Honolulu and throughout Hawaii, providing dependable guidance for a broad range of issues. We understand how an injury can impact your entire family, especially when it affects your ability to work and support your loved ones. Our dedicated legal team gives you the honest advice and personal attention you need during this difficult time in your life.


“Damages” is the legal term for the compensation in a personal injury case. Damages are divided into two categories:

  • Economic damages — These include monetary losses, such as current and future medical bills, current and future lost income, and costs of rehabilitation.
  • Noneconomic damages — Also called pain and suffering, these damages compensate for physical pain, mental suffering, loss of quality of life, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.

Hawaii caps pain and suffering damages for personal injury claims at $375,000. Our legal team is determined to obtain the greatest damage recovery possible under the facts of your case.


Anyone who has suffered an injury due to another person’s act or omission can file a personal injury lawsuit in the court of the county where the injury occurred or where the defendant resides. The basic requirements are as follows:

  • Prepare a Complaint — This document explains to the court what happened and why the court should compel the defendant to pay you compensation of a certain amount. Your Complaint must allege the necessary elements to make a prima facie case, meaning that if what you are saying is true, you deserve compensation. Essentially, you must assert that someone who had a duty to act with care breached that duty by acting negligently, recklessly, or deliberately to harm you. You must state how the breach caused your injury, and you must describe in detail the extent of your injuries. Finally, you must include a Prayer for Relief, which tells the court how much compensation you want.
  • File the Complaint — You must file in the appropriate state court and pay a filing fee.
  • Serve the defendant with a copy of the Complaint and a Summons — When you file, the court clerk gives you a Summons, which is notice to the defendant of the lawsuit. You must arrange for a neutral party to present the Summons and a copy of the Complaint to the defendant, and then file a proof of service with the court, confirming service. Most plaintiffs hire a professional process server, but any adult who does not have an interest in the outcome of the case may serve the defendant.

You are not required to hire an attorney, but you should be aware that mistakes in filing can delay your case or even bar you from bringing the action. Professional advice and representation can help you avoid various pitfalls that self-represented plaintiffs fall victim to. Studies also show that professionally represented plaintiffs recover a far greater amount than unrepresented plaintiffs, even after deducting legal fees.

In Hawaii, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years, so you have a limited time after an accident to take legal action. If your injury involves a long-term condition like mesothelioma, the statute of limitations begins as soon as the initial symptoms appear. Time is of the essence in most cases.


Many personal injury cases involve claims against a defendant’s insurance. Large insurance companies have legal departments dedicated to minimizing the amount they pay out to claimants. If you go up against the insurance company on your own, it’s unlikely you will obtain the full value of your claim.

By working with a skilled attorney, you show insurance companies and negligent parties that you are serious about your claim. A lawyer can answer your questions and give you confidence about the process. Importantly, a lawyer can help you resolve the issue faster than if you were on your own. Experienced lawyers know how to determine liability and examine the details of an accident, pinpointing fault, and seeking compensation from the right sources. This is particularly important when dealing with insurance companies and adjusters, who use a variety of techniques to reduce the amount of money they have to pay claimants.

Our Honolulu legal team handles cases involving car accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, defective products, tourist claims, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, sexual abuse, workplace accidents, and more. Whether you are dealing with short-term or long-term injuries, it’s critical to consult a legal professional who knows how to navigate the related legal issues.


Another important state law concerns comparative negligence. Under Hawaii law, an injured party who bears more than 50 percent of the blame for an injury event cannot recover damages against a defendant. Plaintiffs who bear 50 percent or less of the responsibility for their injuries can recover, but their damages are reduced in proportion to their fault. So, if the court finds that an injured party was 25 percent responsible for an auto accident, it may reduce the compensable damages by one-quarter of the amount that would have been awarded if the person was blameless. Alleging fault is a common tactic that insurance adjusters use during settlement proceedings. This is another area where an experienced injury attorney can be of great help.


In addition to clients injured in slip, trip, and falls as well as automobile accidents, we have represented clients who have been injured or killed in other types of accidents.  To name a few:

  • Swimming Pool Accidents—A 13-year old girl slipped and fell into the deep end of a pool and suffered severe brain damage. Several law firms declined this case because a “No Lifeguard on Duty” sign had been posted.  What they didn’t discover were the violations of pool safety standards which led to her near-drowning.
  • Ocean Drowning—A 19-year old boy was caught in a riptide at one of Hawaii’s beaches. He could have been saved if the lifeguards had been paying attention.  A jury returned the highest drowning award in this case.
  • Scuba and Snorkeling Accidents—A defense attorney from Colorado drowned on his honeymoon because a tour dive operator took him into an underwater cave without taking the necessary safety precautions. A visitor from China drowned while snorkeling at Hanauma Bay because she was rented inappropriate snorkeling equipment, resulting in what is known as “shallow water drowning.”
  • Parasailing and other Boating Accidents—A visitor from Japan died when she fell a hundred feet into the ocean because of a poorly designed parasailing chair. A fisherman suffered a serious arm injury while on a deep-sea fishing trip due to the negligence of the captain.
  • Dog and Animal Bites—Our client’s 8-year old son was killed by a neighbor’s pit bull because the neighbor chose to keep a dangerous dog and not confine it properly. Dog bites occur not because of bad dogs, but bad owners.  We have handled numerous dog bite cases for over 40 years.
  • Helicopter Crashes—Tour helicopters in Hawaii have not had the best safety records. We represented a young couple on their honeymoon who suffered severe and permanent injuries when their tour helicopter crashed in waters off Molokai Island.  We have represented the families of passengers who perished in fiery crashes over Molokai and Hawaii Island due to a defect in the helicopter and/or pilot error.
  • Medical Malpractice—A mother of five died giving birth to her last child because the nurses in the hospital failed to diagnose her pregnancy-induced pre-eclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure). Another client suffered severe disfiguring injuries when a nurse administering chemotherapy drugs failed to insert the needle into the chemo-port, sending the tissue burning fluid into her chest.  We also represented a client who ended up with a permanently dropped foot when a surgeon cut the nerve going down to his foot.

Contact a widely respected Honolulu personal injury lawyer today

After a serious accident resulting in an injury to you or your loved one, contact the experienced Hawaii lawyers at Shim & Chang, Attorneys at Law. You pay no legal fees unless you receive compensation from your claim. We can travel to meet with you if you cannot come to our Honolulu office because of your injuries. Set up your free initial consultation by calling (808) 524-5803 or contacting us online.