Ribs weren't meant to be eaten while driving. How are you supposed to lick your fingers and keep two hands on the wheel? Using the rearview mirror to check for sauce on your face is about as unsafe as it gets. Lesson learned, you could say, because now you've been in a car accident, and not even a fresh slab from from Gates Bar-B-Q can console you. So what do you do next?
This guide will tell you what to do after a car accident in Kansas City and give you some peace of mind with the knowledge that you're going by-the-book. It's not too long, but it covers the basics. This article will address both Missouri and Kansas law. With peace of mind, in whichever state is home, you'll have your appetite back in no time.
After you've been in a crash, stop your vehicle and assess the situation. Ask yourself: "Is this a minor accident or one in which someone may be injured?" If you, a passenger, a pedestrian, or some other party is hurt, try to avoid moving the hurt person. Put on your car's hazard lights and call an ambulance. Then use flares, lights, or reflectors to alert other drivers of danger. Fleeing the scene of a collision is a criminal act in both Missouri or Kansas -- possibly even a felony, depending on whether anyone was severely injured.
"Steer It and Clear It"
If you figure that no one has been hurt, move your car out of the way. Use common sense and figure out whether you can safely drive your vehicle to the shoulder, a nearby lot, or some other well-lit and safe place. Do as the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) says: "Steer it and clear it." It's the law throughout Missouri. In Kansas, the law is essentially the same: stop your vehicle after an accident, but only "without obstructing traffic more than is necessary."
Get To Know Everyone Involved
Hopefully, everyone stops and meets up in a safe area. At that point, drivers, injured parties, and parties suffering property damage should each exchange:
- driver license numbers,
- vehicle identification numbers,
- license plate numbers,
- insurance company names, and
- policy numbers.
Use MoDOT's Motorist Information Exchange Card (page 2) to keep track of this information. Next, encourage everyone to stick around until someone speaks to the police and an officer clears you all to leave. The law in Kansas requires you to exchange substantially the same information. Additionally, the Kansas Insurance Commissioner produced a Motor Vehicle Accident Checklist to help you collect more information that might be helpful down the road.
Do not admit fault. That is an issue for insurance company's to sort out. The company will likely first review the facts they have and then review the police report. Be civil to the other parties, but it's too early to start placing and accepting blame.
Give "Immediate Notice" to Police
In most cases, Missouri Law requires you give "immediate notice" to the local police department. The law applies when someone is hurt or it appears that the collision caused at least $500, which is often the case. In KCMO, you can call the police department's non-emergency line at (816) 234-5000. There's a chance that the department will not be able to send someone to the scene. If that's the case, you must write a written report and submit it to the department within five days. You can send your report to the Traffic Investigation Section at 9701 Marion Park Drive, KCMO, 64137. If you're driving to drop it off, the office is in the South Patrol Station in South KC. Contact the department for directions on what to include in the report.
In Kansas, you also have to give immediate notice, but only if someone is hurt or the apparent damage is at least $1,000. This means that there will be some minor accidents that you have to report in Missouri, but not in Kansas. Unless you're really familiar with the costs of auto repair, err on the safe side and report it all. The KCK Police Department's non-emergency line is (913) 596-3000.
Report Uninsured Drivers in Missouri: If (1) any drivers were uninsured, (2) the accident occurred in the State of Missouri, and (3) the accident caused damage of more than $500 (which is usually the case), you must file a Motor Vehicle Accident Report with the Department of Revenue. You have 30 days. Note: this does not apply to traffic accidents in KCK. Fax the completed form to (573) 526-7365 or mail it to:
The Driver License Bureau
P.O. Box 200
Jefferson City, MO 65105
File a Written Accident Report in Kansas: Kansas law gives the Division of Vehicles (Department of Revenue) the authority to require drivers to submit additional reports whenever the division concludes that it is necessary under the law. You must submit the report on time because your license will be suspended for up to 30 days.
Contact Your Car Insurance Company
In Missouri, generally only drivers who are at fault must pay the consequences of a car accident. Let your insurance company know about any incidents so that the folks there can help clear you of any wrong-doing. The insurance company will then instruct you on how next to proceed.
Kansas, on the other hand, is one of a few states with a form of "no-fault" car insurance. This means that each driver in Kansas must carry "personal injury protection ("PIP") benefits that are the driver's first source of financial recovery for expenses related to his or her injuries. You must also contact the other driver's insurance if you believe that driver was at fault and you suffered property damage (usually to your vehicle).
Car Accidents and Lawsuits
A lawsuit over a car accident is a type of personal injury suit, and a determination of fault may come into play in these types of cases, too. Although many cases are resolved to the satisfaction of all parties simply by using the claims system of their respective insurers, sometimes an injured party may need to resort to the legal system to seek what they feel is fair compensation for their injuries. In a "no fault" state like Kansas, an individual's insurer may often cover the costs of an accident, and there might be no need to resort to legal action. However, even in Kansas, if a victim's damages exceed their no fault insurance coverage, the legal system may be needed to cover remaining costs.
Car accident lawyers can help in these types of cases, as they are typically familiar with evaluating the damages in similar circumstances or accidents. Should tough questions of fault or a dispute over a settlement arise, an attorney may also be able to assist. It should probably be noted that many injury attorneys offer free consultations, too.
Want to Learn More? Get a Legal Evaluation
Knowing what to do after an accident in Kansas City is a little more complicated than it is elsewhere. Whether your car accident occurs on the Missouri or the Kansas side, there may be unexpected complications. Learn more about the legal implications of your Kansas City car accident today with a case evaluation.