It's four in the afternoon, but the sky is full of dark, ragged clouds. You hear in the news that a tornado will hit your town tonight. You decide to head home on I-70 before the weather gets any worse, and then "bam!" A car behind you crashes into your vehicle. How can you file a claim to receive monetary damages? Will your insurance company cover everything? Learn about the basics of the Kansas car accident settlement process and timeline to avoid an unfair settlement.
Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in Kansas?
Yes, in some cases. If the police weren't present at the scene, you must report the accident to law enforcement by the quickest available means of communication (e.g., by cell phone) in the following situations:
- There is property damage of $1,000 or more
- Someone involved in the accident is injured or killed
- The other driver or passenger involved in the accident is not present or physically capable to receive your contact information.
The Division of Vehicles of the Department of Revenue ("Division") can suspend your license if you fail to report an accident as required by law.
Kansas Car Insurance Laws
In Kansas, drivers must have the following coverage: (1) liability, (2) personal injury protection ("PIP"), and (3) uninsured and underinsured motorist. The liability coverage helps a driver to pay for costs related to bodily injury or property damage suffered by others. Every driver must meet the minimum limits per accident:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for total bodily injury when multiple people are injured
- $10,000 for property damage
Kansas is one of the few states that follow the "no-fault insurance" system, which means your insurance company will compensate you regardless who was at fault. Your injuries after an accident will be compensated by the PIP coverage, which must meet the following minimum amount per accident:
- $4,500 per person for medical costs
- $900 per month for one year for disability and loss of income
- $25 per day for substitution services for appropriate and reasonable expenses
- $2,000 for funeral, cremation or burial expenses
- $4,500 for rehabilitation
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Kansas?
Under the no-fault insurance system, you must first turn to your own car insurance company to get compensation for your injuries and damages. If you cannot resolve an issue with your insurance company, you can file a complaint with the Kansas Insurance Department. After evaluating your case, the Department will most likely make one of the following actions: (1) if an insurance law has been violated, it will request a corrective action; (2) if the insurer has not made an appropriate investigation, the Department will demand the insurer to complete a reasonable investigation; or (3) the Department will close the investigation and give you an explanation if no violation of Kansas law was found.
If your claim involves "serious" injury, you can step outside of the no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the other driver. A serious injury means any of the following:
- Significant disfigurement or permanent loss of the use of a body organ, member, function, or system
- Compound fracture
- Other significant injury or illness that requires immediate admission and overnight hospitalization
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in Kansas?
Once you file a car accident claim with your insurance company, you will receive compensation (up to a certain limit) for medical expenses, loss of income, and rehabilitation.
If your case goes to court, Kansas allows you to recover both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are tangible losses like medical services and lost income due to missed work. Noneconomic damages cover less concrete losses like pain and suffering. While you can recover a higher amount of damages in a lawsuit, Kansas imposes a damages cap on noneconomic damages for personal injury. The maximum amount of noneconomic damages you can recover is $300,000. Check out Kansas Statute Section 60-19a02 for full timeline and applicable damages caps.
Also, if fault is shared among the parties in a case, Kansas applies the modified comparative negligence rule. Under this standard, you can recover damages diminished in proportion to the amount of your fault. Let's say you are 10 percent at fault, and the other driver is at 90 percent at fault. If the total amount of damages is $100,000, you will recover $90,000. However, if you are more at fault than the other driver, you are completely barred from recovering any damages.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Kansas?
You have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury and property damage. The clock will start ticking on the date of the accident. Once the deadline has passed, you won't be able to bring a lawsuit no matter how strong your arguments may be. Thus, if you are unable to settle a car accident dispute with your insurance company, you should contact a lawyer before your time to file a lawsuit is over.
Talk to a Kansas Attorney About the Car Accident Settlement Process
Kansas' no-fault system and car insurance requirements can make even a minor accident case complicated. You shouldn't feel obligated to settle for the minimum amount of damages. If you've been injured in an accident, it may be in your best interests to get in touch with an experienced Kansas accident attorney today.