Kansas Car Wreck Injury Rights and Compensation Guide

/ / Car Accidents
Photos being taken of car wreck

Every injury claim is different but, some laws and procedures are common, as is the fact that all tort claims are complicated. If you have been injured in a car crash, you will have questions and doubts about the handling of your case, the compensation that you are likely to receive and any problems or issues that may creep up along the way.

At DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers, we firmly believe that you, the victim, should not have to worry about the litigation while you are working hard to get back on your feet. We have compiled a list of answers based on the questions we commonly receive from our clients about personal injury claims.

Although neither the questions nor the answers represent a complete statement of the personal injury laws of the state, this Kansas car wreck injury compensation and rights guide will help to put your mind at ease. Let’s take a look at the very first question most injury victims have:

What kind of damages can I recover after a car wreck injury?

Victims can receive compensation for both economic and general damages. Economic losses involve the actual monetary damage suffered by the plaintiff, hence they are easier to calculate. In contrast, general damages don’t involve actual financial loss.  

Economic damages are divided into two components:

Medical costs: Compensation for medical expenses includes everything from the cost of ambulance to hospital stay and from doctor’s consultation to rehabilitative treatment and devices as well as in-home assistive care.

Loss of income: If your injuries have limited your ability to work, you can also demand restitution for lost earnings. However, you will have to prove that your injuries and their after-effects have and will have a direct impact on your work performance. The court will consider your occupation, age and experience while calculating your loss of income.

General damages can be claimed for just one component:

Pain and suffering: This pertain to the emotional and mental anguish suffered by the injured and/or by his loved ones, so it is hard to place an exact dollar amount on it. Moreover, unless you have been seriously injured, it can be hard to prove the psychological impact of the collision.

Typically, restitution under this category is awarded for mental health issues suffered as a consequence of the crash, such as anxiety, panic attacks, stress, loss of companionship and loss of life quality.

Is there a limit on the damages I can seek?

There was a limit on non-economic damages ($250,000 maximum) till June, 2019. The Supreme Court of Kansas struck down the economic limit, calling it unconstitutional. So, depending on the severity of your injuries, the compensation you are entitled to is limited by just one factor- The maximum coverage amount of the defendant. At this time, all Kansas motorists are required to carry minimum auto insurance that includes:

  • Liability coverage: $25,000/person for bodily injury and $50,000/collision (if more than one person is injured) and $25,000 for third party property damage (does not cover damage to the policy holder’s vehicle).
  • Personal Injury protection/No-fault Coverage: $4500/person for medical costs; $25/day for assistive/rehabilitative in-home care; $900/month for loss of income; $2000 for last rites if the injuries lead to death; $4500 rehabilitative treatment costs.
  • UI/UIM Coverage (Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage): $25,000/person and a maximum of $50,000/collision.

Assuming that the motorist has the minimum required coverage, you can receive up to $25,000 for medical expenses and $25,000 for property damage (only if the damage has caused a loss of $25,000).

If the motorist is not insured or does not have the minimum required coverage, you can still claim up to $25,000 in medical costs but this will have to be done through your insurance provider.

Having said that, if your hospital bills exceed the maximum amount of $25,000, you cannot compel the insurance company to cover you for the additional amount. They are not legally bound to pay more than what they owe as per the policy terms. In this case, you only have two options:

  1. You can initiate legal action against multiple parties if they share the blame for the crash.
  2. You can ask the at-fault motorist to pay out of his own pocket. This approach is the least successful of all because most people would not have the assets or the income to cover medical costs that exceed $25,000.

Can I still receive compensation for injuries, if I am not seriously hurt?

Kansas is a “No-fault” state. This means that no matter who is at fault and how insignificant your injuries, if you do need medical help, the cost for it will be covered by the PIP (Personal Injury Protection) portion of your policy.

There is no minimum threshold for claiming PIP compensation and you file the claim with your own auto insurance provider. As long as you have documented evidence of your injuries and your medical costs, the insurance company has to pay you within 30 days of filing the PIP notice. 

How do I seek PIP benefits if I don’t own auto insurance?

Personal injury Protection not only covers the policy holders but also protects injured parties who are directly or indirectly connected with the policy holder. For instance, if you are a pedestrian injured in a car crash, you can seek PIP benefits from:

  • The auto insurance of your family member (in-household member only).
  • The auto coverage of the motorist involved in the crash.

If you are a passenger injured in a wreck, you can get the insurance company of the car owner or of the motorist to provide PIP benefits to you, even if neither party is related to you.

Who pays my medical bills if I am seriously injured in a car wreck?

If your medical costs exceed the maximum limit of PIP coverage, you can seek compensation from the insurance provider of the at-fault motorist. Kansas laws mandate that you can only seek compensation from the insurance provider of the defendant if one of the two conditions mentioned below are met:

  • You have been seriously injured.
  • Your medical expenses exceed $2000.

Having said that, the seriousness of your injuries and the subsequent medical costs will have to be proved for you to receive fair compensation.

What qualifies as a serious injury?

To pursue a case outside the No-Fault system of Kansas, your claim should involve serious injury. That is defined as:

  • Permanent loss of a physical function/ability.
  • Permanent damage to an organ/bodily system.
  • Dismemberment.
  • Extensive and conspicuous disfigurement.
  • Compound fracture.
  • Injuries that require immediate and overnight hospitalization.
  • Death.

What is the process for car crash settlement in Kansas?

1. You get in touch with your insurance company to file a PIP claim. Your insurance provider is expected to settle the claim within 30 days of receiving your notice. If your claim is settled and if your medical expenses do not exceed your PIP coverage, this will be the end of the settlement process.

2. If your insurance provider does not provide compensation under your PIP plan, citing issues which cannot be resolved, you have to file a complaint with the Kansas Insurance Department. They will take one of these three actions:

  1. Ask the insurance provider to take corrective action and offer just compensation if the company has violated an insurance law.
  2. Demand that the insurance provider complete a proper investigation if lapses are found on this front.
  3. Close the investigation if they find that the insurance company has completed proper investigation and that no laws have been violated. They will give you an explanation of why your claim cannot be settled.

If a satisfactory conclusion is reached through this process and you are provided relief under No-fault coverage, this will complete the settlement process. If not, you have the right to approach the court for compensation.

3. If your injuries are serious and/or PIP coverage is not enough to cover your medical expenses, you file a lawsuit against the defendant and his/her insurer.

Can I recover all my lost earnings through a personal injury claim?

While PIP coverage and a claim brought against the defendant will both include a component for lost earnings, how much you recover in damages is contingent upon the maximum limit of the coverage. For instance:

  • PIP will cover you for $900/month or 85% of your lost wages for a period of one year.
  • If your loss of earnings exceeds the PIP threshold or if there is long-term impact on your ability to earn, you will have to bring legal action against the defendant.

Generally, the defendant’s insurance provider will pay 100% of your lost earnings as long as you have documented proof of wage/income.

How much time do I get to file a personal injury claim?

In Kansas, you get 2 years to file legal action for personal injury or property damages that resulted from the negligence of another party. The two-year period starts from the day of the collision.

Better sooner than later: Although you can file a claim within two years from this date, it is best to act immediately. The longer you wait, the greater will be the risk of losing crucial evidence; not to mention that you will be handing the other side a hall pass to challenge the veracity of your claim.

You will miss the train if you are late: If for any reason you do not or cannot file your claim within the two year deadline, you lose the recourse for legal action against the defendant and his/her insurer, no matter how genuine and strong your case.

What if the wreck was partially or completely my fault?

Kansas follows “Modified Comparative Negligence” rule when it comes to handling personal injury claims. This means that the fault of both parties involved in a crash is compared to calculate the amount of compensation due to the injured party.

For example, if you are injured in a car wreck that was partly, assume 10%, your fault, you will receive 90% of your claim amount instead of the complete 100%. If you have filed a claim for $20,000, you would receive $18,000 in compensation because you are responsible for 10% or $2,000 in damages.

Along the same lines, if you are 51% at fault, you lose the right to sue for compensation. As you may have guessed, proving who was more was at fault is the tricky part of this equation because you are essentially turning a human act of error/negligence into a mathematical figure. And that is where you will need the litigation skills of an experienced attorney.

How do you prove fault in a car wreck?

To prove fault, you have to show that the defendant violated a rule or was in a state that prevented him/her from reacting/acting reasonably. You also have to show that the action of the defendant caused you to be involved in the crash, which led to your injuries.

It is fairly easy to prove negligence if there is clear evidence that the at-fault motorist has violated a traffic law. For instance, he/she was speeding or ran a red light, etc.

As explained above, it can be complicated to prove comparative negligence when both drivers are at fault. For instance, consider this scenario: the defendant was speeding hence plowed into your car in a head-on collision. You had ample room to swerve to avoid the oncoming car but failed to do so because you had your attention focused on changing the GPS setting.

In such a case, the other side will undoubtedly try to pin half the blame on you. However, DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers’ know how to shoot down such arguments with facts, expert testimony and evidence. This evidence can be used to prove that only a very small percentage of the responsibility for the crash rests with you.

You will, no doubt, have more questions….

Although we have tried to answer most questions that motor vehicle collision victims have, you will have other questions. Instead of trying to find the answers and ending up with incorrect or incomplete information, give us a call right away at 316-888-8888.

We have a team of experienced and skilled litigators who have decades of experience in handling car wreck injury claims. Our motto is simple – You should get the compensation that you rightfully deserve!

Our lawyers do not mind negotiating hard and even taking the matter to court. If you are injured in a car wreck, you are a victim and you should not have to live with the consequences of someone else’s negligence.

Contact us today, so that while you heal mentally and physically, we can ensure that you get the monetary support needed for your treatment.