Who Pays Compensation For Car Wrecks In Kansas?
Our experienced auto accident attorneys explain the claims process
If you've been injured in a car accident in Kansas, the costs can pile up in a hurry. Medical bills. Lost wages. Damage to your vehicle. Services you may need to go on living. You're trying to rebuild your life, and your accident-related expenses can be an anchor dragging you down. That's why it's so important to know how to get full and fair compensation.
The experienced attorneys at Warner Law Offices are ready to help. We've worked with countless people injured in car accidents, and we know the claims process inside and out. Our legal team can help you understand your options and fight for the compensation you need. Here's what you need to know.
Kansas is a "no-fault" state for car insurance
That doesn't necessarily mean that it doesn't matter who is at fault in your accident. But it does mean that as a person injured in an accident, you first need to file a claim with your own insurance carrier, even if another driver clearly caused your wreck.
Kansas requires all motorists to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which provides benefits for you, as the insured motorist, and your passengers (as long as they don't have their own insurance) on a no-fault basis. The minimum amount of protection required by Kansas law includes:
- $4,500 per injured person for medical expenses.
- Up to $900 per month for disability or loss of income for up to one year.
- Up to $25/day for in-home services
- $2,000 for funeral, burial and cremation expenses
- $4,500 for rehabilitation expenses
- Up to $900/month for one year for loss of income for survivors of people killed in auto accidents
Such benefits might seem like a lot of money. But often, they don't even come close to the full cost of many car wrecks. That's why many motorists choose to purchase additional coverage.
In principle, accessing your no-fault benefits should be easy. You file a claim with your insurance company, and the insurance pays for your expenses up to the policy limit. But as we've seen time and again, even your own insurance company isn't necessarily on your side. They may dispute the extent of your injuries or question whether particular losses are really accident-related. That's why it's so important to have experienced legal counsel on your side.
Filing a claim against another motorist
Under Kansas law, you can seek damages (financial compensation) from the at-fault party if you have medical bills in excess of $2,000, or if your injuries meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Permanent disfiguring injury
- Fracture to a weight-bearing bone
- Compound, compressed, comminuted or displaced fracture
- Loss of a body part
- Permanent injury
- Permanent loss of bodily function
- Fatal injury
As you might imagine, proving that your injuries meet Kansas' threshold to seek compensation from the other driver is tricky. The insurance company may dispute whether your injuries are truly permanent or disfiguring. This is why it's so important to contact an experienced attorney right away.
Note that if you seek compensation from the at-fault driver and there is any overlap between the compensation you receive and the no-fault benefits you've already gotten from your insurance company, you are responsible for reimbursing your insurance carrier. This is called subrogation, and it can reduce the total amount of compensation you receive. Our attorneys understand the subrogation process and are often able to negotiate with the insurance company to keep more of the compensation you need in your own pocket.
Wrecks involving uninsured and underinsured motorists
Kansas law requires all drivers to carry insurance, including liability insurance. Unfortunately, many drivers choose to break the law and drive without insurance. You might also be involved in an accident with a hit-and-run driver who is never found - which means you cannot file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company.
Moreover, the total cost of an accident can significantly exceed the value of the at-fault driver's liability insurance. In Kansas, the minimum coverage is known as 25/50/25 insurance:
- $25,000 for injuries caused to a single person
- $50,000 for bodily injury for all injured parties in the accident
- $25,000 for property damage
While that may seem like a lot of money, in many cases, the total cost of an accident can significantly exceed those minimum policy limits. If you're involved in an accident with a driver who only has the legal minimum coverage, you may find that his or her coverage is insufficient to compensate you - this is known as an underinsured motorist.
Fortunately, you can seek benefits from your own insurance company through your uninsured and underinsured motorist protection. These benefits stand in for the other motorist's liability coverage and provide you with compensation for anything that the other motorist's insurance cannot cover. The minimum coverage in Kansas is $25,000 per injured person and $50,000 per accident, but we do recommend reviewing your policy to make sure you have adequate coverage. Otherwise, you may have no option except to try to recover from the at-fault driver's personal assets, and that is a difficult, time-consuming and sometimes impossible process - after all, many uninsured and underinsured motorists don't have significant assets to recover in the first place.
Fight for the compensation you need. Contact an experienced lawyer
Whether you're dealing with your own insurance company or another driver's, you can't count on the insurance to make sure you are fully compensated. Their priority is to protect their bottom line, not to help you. That's why it's so important to schedule a free consultation with our law firm. We can review your case, help you understand your options, and advocate for you in negotiations and at trial.