In this article, we'll discuss a few key Kansas laws that could affect a car accident injury claim, including Kansas no-fault car insurance rules and time limits for filing a lawsuit if an injury claim is exempted from the no-fault system.
If you carry car insurance in Kansas and you're injured in a car accident, the most important thing to understand is that you're obligated to handle any injury claim through your own car insurance coverage -- and it doesn't matter who was at fault for the accident -- unless your case qualifies as exempt from no-fault.
In a no-fault claim, you work with your own car insurance carrier to get compensation for medical expenses and lost income (up to a certain limit) stemming from the accident. But you can't recover every compenent of damages that would otherwise be available if you were to file a liability claim or lawsuit against the other driver. For example, no-fault claimants can't recover compensation for pain and suffering caused by the accident and the resulting injuries.
In order to step outside the no-fault system in Kansas, your injury claim must meet one of two thresholds in place under the state's rules:
Learn more about No-Fault Car Insurance Claims.
If your car accident injury claim does meet the requirements under Kansas's threshold for avoiding the no-fault car insurance claims process, you're now able to hold the other driver legally responsible for your injuries, and one way to do that is by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Every state has laws that place limitations on the timeframe within which you're around to file a lawsuit in court. These restrictions are called "statutes of limitations," and they vary based on the type of case you want to file. The relevant time limits for filing a lawsuit over a car accident in Kansas are:
There are three different ways in which states deal with comparative fault (the situation in which multiple parties are at least partially at fault for an accident). In legalese, Kansas is a "modified comparative negligence state." This means that in Kansas, you can recover against any party that is more at-fault than you are, but your recovery will be reduced by the percentage of your own liability.
An example shows how this rule applies in real life. Let's say that you are driving a few miles over the speed limit when another driver cuts in front of you to make a left turn. Without enough time to stop, you collide with the other vehicle. A jury (or adjuster) may find that the other driver is primarily at fault -- 80% responsible, for example -- but you are still at fault to a lesser to degree because you were speeding -- we'll say 20% at fault. This means that a $10,000 award or settlement you would have received would be reduced to $8,000 (the 20% that is your own liability). If your liability is greater than 50%, however, you will not be able to recover anything at all under Kansas's fault rules, because you are the party that bears the majority of the legal liability for the accident.
Of course, this rule controls judge or jury awards in civil lawsuits (if you get to that stage). But before you get to that point, an insurance claim adjuster will look to Kansas's comparative fault rules when determining what your claim is worth. Claims adjusters have to keep an eye toward what would happen should the case go to trial. Of course, there is not a definitive way of empirically apportioning fault, the ultimate allocation of fault will depend on negotiation with a claims adjuster or the determination of a judge or jury.
Besides the no-fault car insurance rules discussed above, other Kansas laws on car insurance will also probably come into play after a car accident. For everything you need to know about car insurance in Kansas -- including the minimum amounts of coverage required for registered vehicles in operation in the state -- check out our companion article Kansas Auto Insurance Laws and Regulations.