How Kansas No-Fault Law Limits Damages for Car Accident Victims
Kansas is one of 12 states that have a no-fault insurance system, which limits the damages available to automobile accident victims. If you are hurt in a collision, you cannot directly sue the other driver to seek compensation, regardless of who was at fault. Instead, you must first look to your own insurance policy’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to reimburse you for medical expenses and other out-of-pocket costs. Only in specified circumstances can you sue the other driver for larger amounts.
The minimum PIP coverage in Kansas provides the following if you are involved in a crash:
- $4,500 for medical bills
- $900 a month in disability for up to a year
- $25 per day for in-home services
- $4,500 for rehabilitation expenses
- $2,000 for funeral, burial or cremation expenses
It is advisable that you obtain more coverage than these minimums, which can easily be exceeded in car accidents resulting in bodily injury.
PIP coverage compensates an accident victim only for economic damages, meaning measurable expenses. These include the costs of medical treatment and care as well as the loss of wages. Less tangible injuries are called non-economic damages. Pain and suffering is the most well-known example. Although difficult to calculate, non-economic damages can comprise the largest part of a settlement or award in a lawsuit.
Kansas law provides a way to obtain compensation for non-economic damages up to $350,000. You can do so by filing a personal injury claim against the other driver, but only if certain criteria are met. Specifically, your medical bills must come to $2,000 or more or you must suffer one of the following types of injuries:
- Fracture of a weight-bearing bone
- Loss of a body part
- Permanent loss of a bodily function
- Permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Permanent injury within a reasonable medical possibility
- Displaced, comminuted, compression or compound fracture
If you sue the other driver, he or she will likely claim that you were at least partially at fault. Kansas applies the rule of modified comparative negligence. That means you can recover damages as long as your own fault was less than 50 percent the cause of the accident. The compensation you receive will be reduced by the percentage of your fault. For example, if the jury finds you had $100,000 in damages but also finds you 25 percent at fault, your award would be $75,000.
At Patrick C. Smith, Attorney at Law in Pittsburg, Kansas, I help victims of car accidents get the maximum compensation allowed by law. If you’ve been hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle accident, please call my office at 620-308-6692 or contact me online to arrange a free initial consultation.