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What you need to know about contributory negligence in Hawaii

In real life, when something bad happens it is uncommon that one person is 100 percent at fault. The world is random and complicated, and it can take a series of negligent or outright threatening actions from a variety of people to cause a car accident or other violent incident.

Contributory negligence: an explanation

Consider this example: Glenn is driving 15 mph over the speed limit when a drunk driver swerves into his lane and a crash ensues. Glenn suffers a serious injury. Can he sue the other driver for damages?

In Hawaii, the answer is yes. Hawaii is a contributory negligence state. That means that the plaintiff in a personal injury claim can recover damages, even if the plaintiff is partly responsible for their own injuries, as long as their share of the liability is not as great as the defendants’. However, the plaintiff’s compensation is reduced accordingly.

So if Glenn sues the drunk driver and the jury finds the defendant to be 75 percent responsible for the crash and Glenn 25 percent responsible, whatever damages the jury awards Glenn would be reduced by 25 percent.

New anti-pedestrian law in Honolulu

A new law in Honolulu does not affect the Hawaiian civil law system, but it does have implications for pedestrians who get hit by cars. As of late October, it is illegal to use a cellphone to send or read text messages while walking across the street, ABC News reports.

The crime is being treated as a minor traffic offense, with just a $35 fine for a first offense. Penalties eventually climb to a $99 ticket. Still, the new ordinance represents a new attitude in Honolulu toward pedestrians who are hit by a car or truck and killed or seriously hurt. One where motorists’ responsibility to follow traffic laws and be alert at all times is, arguably, not as important as it used to be, at least in Honolulu.

If you are ever the victim of a pedestrian accident, you will likely need expensive medical attention and require weeks or months of time off of work. A personal injury lawyer will help you identify who is responsible and help you recover maximum damages.

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