Case Results

Shim & Chang has achieved numerous high dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of accident and injury victims in Honolulu and throughout Hawaii, including the first $1 million jury verdict in our State.

Some attorneys advertise assistance with Honolulu personal injury settlements with the goal of simply settling a matter at the soonest opportunity and moving on to the next case. At Shim & Chang, we prepare every case as if it may go to trial, always with the goal of obtaining maximum compensation for every client.

To learn more about our personal injury practice and our services, please contact our offices for a complimentary initial consultation. We can help if you or a loved one has been in an accident.


Our firm has succeeded in many landmark decisions and achieved important victories for our clients. A landmark case is one that sets a precedent that substantially changes the current interpretation of the law or one that establishes new case law on a particular issue. In handling landmark personal injury cases, Shim & Chang has helped reshape Hawaii law to improve the legal system for injury victims. We are proud to share these examples of landmark cases:



On January 29, 1981, Mark Tokuyama went swimming at Makapu’u Beach with several friends. He was unaware of a severe rip current at the beach that day. No warning signs or flags were posted. While swimming near the shore area in front of the lifeguard stand, he was suddenly picked up by the undertow and taken out to sea. He struggled against the current for some 20 minutes before succumbing to fatigue, inhaling water, and losing consciousness.

While Mark was struggling for his life, the two lifeguards on duty were inattentive to their duties. One lifeguard went on break and the other lifeguard had his back turned to the water talking to a girl. Only after other beachgoers notified the lifeguard was a rescue attempt made. By then, it was too late. Mark died on the way to the hospital.

The City and County of Honolulu claimed the tragedy was Mark’s fault for going swimming and denied that the lifeguard was inattentive. The City declined to make any settlement offer, and this case was taken to trial, leaving the ultimate decision to the jury.

The jury awarded total damages of $953,114.57, which at the time was the highest award ever for a drowning case in the State of Hawaii.


Undisclosed amount

Fourteen-year-old Shawn Potter was working as a newspaper dealer for Hawaii Newspaper Agency (HNA) in Honolulu when he was struck by an automobile that ran a stop sign. As a result of the accident, Shawn suffered severe head injuries, a ruptured spleen, and a fractured femur. Upon his discharge from the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific in May 1993, he was confined to a wheelchair and required assistance with activities of daily living. Shawn’s family has claimed that his medical expenses exceeded $307,000.00.

At the time of the accident, Sean was riding a moped that belonged to one of HNA’s district managers. When Shawn was loaned the moped to make deliveries, he was also permitted to take it home and use it at other times as well. However, Shawn was not old enough to operate the moped legally, and he possessed no license to drive it.

In order to become a dealer for HNA, Shawn and his parents executed a “Statement of Intention,” which recited that Shawn would “operate [his] own retail distribution and delivery business as an independent contractor.” As “independent contractors,” HNA’s newspaper dealers did not receive any employee benefits. The dealers did not receive an hourly wage, but rather purchased newspapers at wholesale from HNA, which they resold to their customers at a profit. HNA did not take responsibility for withholding income tax or Social Security payments on the dealers’ behalf.

It is apparent from the record that the “Newspaper Dealers’ Agreement” was offered to prospective newspaper carriers on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. The disparity of bargaining power was made more acute by the paucity of employment opportunities available to young people. Moreover, pursuant to the terms of the agreement, HNA sought to avoid liability for employee benefits, state and federal payroll taxes, and vicarious liability for any damages that might result from the news carriers’ delivery of its newspapers. The agreement offered no reciprocal benefits to the carriers.

Despite the express terms of its own agreement, HNA claimed that Shawn was an employee of HNA, not an independent contractor, and only entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits would prohibit a tort suit against HNA, and for Shawn’s family, the difference in benefits was huge.

When the Hawaii Supreme Court decided Shawn’s case, it was a landmark decision in workers’ compensation law and tort law. Prior to the decision, it was unclear whether an injured independent contractor could choose between receiving workers’ compensation benefits or sue his employer under tort law. The Court held in our favor and decided that Shawn could either sue HNA under tort law or accept workers’ compensation benefits. The choice was his and not HNA’s. Following this decision, Shawn’s tort suit was settled by HNA for an undisclosed amount.

The Hawaii Supreme Court explained in its holding, “We are not providing a mechanism whereby any worker, who has consistently been labeled and treated by his employer as an ’employee’ and afforded the full panoply of protections and benefits that customarily accompany that status, may ‘opt out’ of the workers’ compensation statutes. Rather, we are merely restricting the prerogative of employers to ‘have their cake and eat it too.’ When an employer expressly contracts with a worker as an ‘independent contractor,’ the employer will be bound by his election. If such a worker is injured on the job, the individual may choose to (1) seek relief in tort or (2) attempt to show that the independent contractor agreement was a sham and that the worker is, therefore, entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.” Potter v. Hawaii Newspaper Agency, 89 Hawaii 411 (1999).


$1,950,000.00 Settlement.

Bus Stop Diagram

During a rain and wind storm, a tree toppled over onto the bus stop, where our client, who was a visitor to Hawaii, was waiting. The tree collapsed the shelter around her, with the shelter’s concrete pillar falling onto and breaking both of her legs. The height of the tree needed to be reduced so that if it did fall, it would not fall onto the shelter. Our client underwent numerous surgeries and grafts to try to repair the damage done to her legs.

Death of a mother due to a hospital error

$7 Million Medical Malpractice Settlement.

Brain injury suffered by a teenager in a motor vehicle crash

$6.5 Million Settlement.

Condo door negligence, fractured bone in left leg and right wrist

$100,000.00 Settlement.

Rear-end auto collision; whiplash, neck, headaches, left rotator cuff injury, low back and TMD jaw injury

$50,000 Settlement

Slip and fall in parking lot, broken right shoulder requiring surgery

$155,000 Settlement

Dog Bite Injury to minor, scarring to head and arm.

$245,000 Settlement

Slip and fall on metal plate in walkway of stadium, ankle fracture

$75,000 Judgment

Burn injury, scaring to the thigh area from hot drink

$35,000 Settlement

Car accident from rear-end collision, herniated discs in neck

$885,000 Settlement

Rear-end auto collision, whiplash, left rotator cuff injury and lower back pain

$19,000 Settlement

Slip and fall injury from orange juice spilled in hospital causing fractured shoulder

$69,000 Settlement

Trip and fall on uneven sidewalk requiring knee replacement

$135,579.79 Judgment

Trip and fall on mat, fractured wrist requiring surgery

$125,000 Settlement after judgment

Tree blown over onto bus shelter, significant leg injuries

$1,950,000 Settlement

Man killed by an oncoming car while on bike

$300,000 + $20,000 Policy limits settlement

Slip and fall injury due to unmarked steps causing elbow fracture

$58,953.61 Judgment

Hit and run causing left wrist distal radius fracture.

$100,000 Judgment

Trip & fall C&C sidewalk, judgment right 5th metacarpal bone fracture

$ 55,337.22 Judgment.

Slip and fall Sheraton Waikiki poolside, right elbow fracture

$115,000.00 Settlement.

Hot water spilled by airlines, 2nd degree burns to body

$17,000 Settlement.

Slip & fall on mossy stepping stones, fractured left hip

$165,000.00 Settlement.

Slip & fall stepping off wet mat at fish market, ankle/leg fracture

$145,000.00 Settlement.

Riding bike, hit by car: whiplash injury of neck, back pain, contusion, left rotator cuff…

$67,000.00 Settlement.

Slip and fall on crosswalk, colles fracture of left radius (requiring surgery to repair)

$45,000.00 Settlement.

Trip and fall exiting the restroom, right rotator cuff tear, requiring surgery to repair

$120,000.00 Judgment.

Slip and fall on spilled pasta sauce left shoulder and hip joint injury

$12,000.00 Settlement.

Pedestrian accident, hit by car: facial pain, headache, back pain, bilateral arm pain

$20,000.00 Settlement.

Bus accident colliding with car, bruising to right side of body, shoulder, hip, chest

$12,500.00 Settlement.

Trip and fall on sidewalk, contusion of left hip and eye swelling

$55,000 Judgment.

Burn injury, hot air exhaust in water treatment plant

$216,174.82 Judgment.

Trip and fall on sidewalk, fractured right wrist and facial/dental injuries

$57,669.56 Judgment.

Slip and fall at Turtle bay, femoral neck fracture

$86,643.17 Judgment.

Bicycle accident, hit by car suffering a fracture of left shoulder

$20,500 Settlement.

Rear-end collision, right shoulder and rotator cuff tear, tendon rupture

$20,000 Settlement.

MVA collision on freeway, cervical injury, shoulder pain, TMJ and fractured teeth

$50,000 Settlement.

Slip and fall Manoa Cafeteria left fractured patella

$155,000.00 Judgment.

Slip and fall slip and fall in a restaurant rotator cuff tear left shoulder requiring surgery

$135,000 Settlement.

Slip and fall down steps at a condominium, elbow fracture

$73,000 Settlement.

Trip and fall involving a tourist in Waikiki, tripped over an uneven sidewalk

$130,000 Judgment.

Collapse of stairway at a townhouse, rupture of liver and kidneys

$100,000 Settlement.

Trip and fall parking lot, fracture hip, total hip replacement required

$237,500 Settlement.

Trip and fall sidewalk, fractured arm

$116,563 Judgment.

Slip and fall at strip mall, foot fracture requiring surgery

$84,440.57 Settlement.

Slip and fall hotel slippery driveway, right rotator cuff tear requiring surgery

$65,000 Settlement.

Medical malpractice, death of child

$348,000 Settlement.

Car accident, fix wrist, required surgery

$150,000 Settlement.

Car accident, fractured clavicle

$60,000 Settlement.

Dog bite, nerve damage, scarring

$29,655 Judgment.

Fall, metal plate in sidewalk, fractured arm

$140,000 Settlement.

Slip and fall wet parking lot, compression fracture

$120,000 Settlement.

Trip and fall strip mall uneven walkway, rotator cuff tear, surgery

$143,000 Settlement.

Trip and fall, defect in crosswalk, fractured toe

$59,122.25 Judgment.

Trip and fall uneven sidewalk, fractured wrist

$55,000 Judgment.

Car accident, low back injury

$80,000 Settlement.