Personal Injury Practice
Maui Personal Injury Law
Personal injuries can occur suddenly, causing a significant amount of devastation in their wake. Victims and families want financial compensation in order to return a semblance of normalcy to their lives. Sometimes a Defendant refuses to take responsibility; sometimes it’s their insurance company. When an insurance company refuses to make good on its responsibility, obligations and policies, the uncertainty for an injured person is overwhelming.
I’m Matthew S. Kohm, a Maui attorney with more then 24 years of personal injury experience. If the negligence of another has injured you or a family member, I can help you recover fair compensation. I handle the following types of cases:
- Wrongful Death
- Serious Injury
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Bicycle, Moped, or Motorcycle
- Premises Slip, Trip & Fall Accidents
- Insurance Disputes
Personal Injury – An Overview
Personal injury lawsuits are filed by people (or their representatives) injured, due to the negligence of someone else. Negligence is a term that refers to a person’s careless, irresponsible, and/or harm generating action. The injury may be either physical or emotional, and it can arise from a variety of sources or types of conduct. Some of the most common types of personal injury cases include slip and fall, automobile accidents, assaults and battery, medical malpractice, and product liability. In general, the goal of a personal injury action is to determine who was responsible and to compel the responsible party to compensate the injured person for the losses sustained. If you or someone you know has been injured by the careless actions of another, contact a personal injury attorney at our firm to find out how we can help you preserve your rights.
Personal Injury Damages
Personal injury lawyers can help ensure that their clients receive the damages to which they are entitled by law. Some of the items for which injured parties are legally entitled to compensation include lost wages, past and future medical expenses, damages for both physical and emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and damages for disfigurement. Sometimes, a close family member of the injured person, such as his or her spouse, may also be entitled to damages. This award is often referred to as loss of consortium damages, which is intended to compensate the loved one for the loss of the injured or deceased person’s services and companionship.
Other kinds of damages that may be awarded, depending on the laws of the state where the lawsuit is brought and the facts of the particular case, include hedonic damages, which are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the loss of enjoyment of activities that he or she once valued but can no longer participate in as a result of the injuries suffered. In addition, punitive damages may be awarded when the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious and the court or jury determines that the defendant should be punished by paying an amount above and beyond the plaintiff’s actual damages. Punitive damage awards may also serve to deter others from engaging in similar wrongful conduct.
“Legal Causation” of Personal Injuries
Not every injured plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for the injury he or she sustains. Besides the injury, the plaintiff must also establish, through credible and relevant evidence, that the defendant is legally responsible for his or her injuries. The plaintiff must present proof of causation both in terms of actual causation and proximate (legal) causation. Actual causation is determined by literal cause and effect. Whether legal causation is established depends on the facts and circumstances of the particular matter in question.
In some personal injury actions, legal causation may be established if the plaintiff can show that the defendant engaged in intentional conduct. This means that the wrongdoer intentionally or purposefully harmed the plaintiff or knew that the conduct in which he or she engaged gave rise to a substantial likelihood that harm would result.
Negligence and Strict Liability
Other personal injury actions are based on a looser concept of fault called negligence. Under the negligence theory, a defendant is held liable for the results of action, or inaction, when an ordinary person in the same position should have foreseen that the conduct would create an unreasonable risk of harm to others. Still other types of personal injury actions are based on strict liability, which is a no-fault system under which liability may be established regardless of the fault of the various parties, including the plaintiff. Strict liability may be applied in products liability cases, such as when a manufacturer or seller of a defective product puts that product into the hands of consumers and users of the product are injured.
The defendant can be held liable for actions taken or for actions not taken. A driver who fails to stop at a red light and hits another vehicle and injures the other driver or passengers is liable based on her negligent acts. A property owner who fails to clear the ice and snow from the front steps of a business open to the public may be liable for his inaction if a patron falls and breaks her leg when attempting to enter the premises.
Defenses to Liability in Personal Injury Cases
In some situations, the defendant’s conduct, while questionable, may not give rise to damages. If, for instance, a plaintiff knowingly and willfully chooses to encounter a known hazard, then the law provides that he or she has assumed the risk of injury and therefore the defendant should not be liable. The assumption of the risk theory may apply also in a case in which the plaintiff engaged in a friendly game of tackle football and another player broke his arm; in such a case, the plaintiff may be unable to recover for his injuries because he knew of the risks inherent in the game and willingly chose to encounter them.
The following are possible defenses to personal injury claims:
- Statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations are laws setting forth the period within which the lawsuit must be initiated.
- Sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity provides that certain government officials are immune from civil liability for their official conduct
- Intentional misuse. Injuries caused by a plaintiff’s intentional misuse of a product may be a defense to liability in a products liability case
- Contributory or comparative negligence. Contributory or comparative negligence exists where the plaintiff’s own conduct caused or contributed to his or her injuries
A personal injury lawyer can explain these and other defenses and determine whether they apply to a particular case.
Personal injury actions often require a lawyer’s careful examination of the surrounding facts and circumstances to determine whether the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. A personal injury attorney at our firm can look at the facts of your case and determine whether you have a legally valid claim, how soon you must act to preserve your rights, the damages to which you may be entitled, and whether you may be entitled to some type of financial benefits before your lawsuit is even resolved. Additionally, in many personal injury cases, you owe no legal fees unless and until the defendant pays the damage award.
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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.
If you have lost a family member or suffered injuries as a result of another person’s negligence or misconduct, you could be legally entitled to compensation for your loss. To learn more about your right to damages, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney for straightforward solutions that will work for you.
If you have lost a family member or suffered injuries as a result of another person’s negligence or misconduct, a personal injury attorney who knows how to protect your rights can work with you to negotiate the best possible result according to the facts and applicable law. Don’t delay. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation and case evaluation. The timely, cost-effective resolution of injury claims often calls for an attorney who is experienced in handling personal injury matters and dedicated to providing personal service. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation and case evaluation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
If you have lost a family member or suffered injuries as a result of another person’s negligence or misconduct, working with an attorney who has exemplary legal skills can help you to achieve the favorable verdict or settlement to which you are entitled. To find out how our firm can work with you to address your immediate needs, contact us to schedule a consultation and case evaluation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
I treat clients with the respect and compassion they need after suffering a serious injury. In negotiation and in trial, I work passionately to recover the fair compensation that my clients deserve.
Personal Injury, General Resource Links
Practical Law: Personal Injury Claims
This Web site, made available to the public by the ABA Division For Public Education contains useful information about personal injury claims.
US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
The CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of property damage, serious personal injury, or death from consumer products such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC’s Web site includes recalls and product safety news, information on reporting an unsafe product, and more.
Fact Sheet Library
National Safety Council (NSC) fact sheets are resource guides that provide statistics, tips, and suggestions to make life safer. This Web site contains over 80 topics in four categories: agricultural safety, healthy living, environment safety, and road safety.
Tort Law: An Overview
This Web site, maintained by the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell University Law School, provides general information about tort law, including discussion of intentional torts, negligent torts, and strict liability torts.
Dog Bite Liability
This Web site contains an article from the Insurance Information Institute (III) about dog bite liability. The article discusses dog owners’ liability, recent developments in state legislation, important court decisions, and other related issues.