According to fire department officials, an employee of E.M. Rivera and Sons construction company was injured in a construction accident in Kailua-Kona earlier this year after the wall of a utility trench measuring six feet deep collapsed on him. The 66 year-old man was hospitalized with critical injuries after having suffered facial trauma and difficulty breathing. The man was working on an underground cable installation project, and according to authorities, recent rains may have made the ground unstable and led to the accident. In most construction accidents, construction company employees will be able to file a workers’ compensation claim against the employer, but if a party other than the employer contributed to the injury by providing defective equipment or faulty subcontractor work, for example, a personal injury claim may arise.
How long after a construction accident am I allowed to file a personal injury claim?
Hawaii law generally requires that victims of construction accidents who wish to file a personal injury claim against responsible third parties do so within two years from the accrual of the cause of action, a period of time known as the “Statute of Limitations.” The statute of limitations generally begins to run from the date of the construction accident, when the cause of action “accrues,” however, with some latent injuries that are only discoverable with the passage of time, the cause of action may only arise after months or years have passed, and the statute of limitations may be paused, or “tolled,” until such time. In certain cases of construction accidents arising from property improvements, under Hawaii law, there is an absolute bar to personal injury suits arising from certain kinds of construction accidents ten years after the completion of the construction work.