Motor vehicles play an important role in the lives of many Kansas residents. In a state with a mix of large cities and rural areas, many depend on their cars to get from Point A to Point B.
This reliance on cars naturally means accidents can and will happen. Even cautious drivers can be harmed in accidents due to:
- Dangerous weather
- Unsafe road conditions
- Vehicle defects
- Negligent drivers
If you've been involved in an accident, you may have sustained injuries. Your injuries might require costly medical treatment. They may also prevent you from working. If you can't work, you can't take home a paycheck.
There's a good chance you can receive financial compensation for these losses.
Review your case with a Kansas car accident lawyer. Their experience can help you with your case.
What a Kansas Auto Accident Attorney Can Do for You
Seeking compensation after being injured in a car accident usually involves filing an insurance claim. A Kansas car accident lawyer can help by:
- Investigating your accident to determine if it resulted from negligence
- Identifying the negligent parties
- Gathering evidence of negligence (such as pictures)
- Retrieving witness statements
- Documenting your injuries and losses
- Filing a claim with the insurance company in a timely manner
- Reviewing settlement offers and determining if they're fair
- Entering into negotiations with the insurance company if necessary
Hiring a lawyer to represent you also gives you more time to focus on your health after an accident. It's easier to prioritize your recovery when you're not burdening yourself with the task of securing compensation.
Be aware that you're not taking a financial risk by speaking with a lawyer. A Kansas car accident attorney will review your case for free. You have no obligation to hire them after a consultation.
Many lawyers also enter into contingency fee agreements with their clients. This type of agreement involves a lawyer agreeing not to charge fees for their services unless their client receives compensation. An attorney's "fee" may be a percentage of the compensation a client receives. If you don't win your case, you don't have to pay.
All lawyers use the same method for charging clients. Be sure to discuss this topic in greater detail with a lawyer when hiring them. They should make sure you fully understand the fee arrangement.
Kansas is one of a few states using the "no-fault" car insurance system. In states using the "at-fault" or "tort" system, when a negligent driver causes an accident, their insurance is responsible for compensating victims for their medical bills and related losses.
That's not so in Kansas. In Kansas, drivers are required to carry certain minimum insurance coverage. If you're harmed in a collision, your own insurance is responsible for providing compensation. Even if your accident occurred due to the carelessness or actions of another party, your first step in seeking compensation would be to file a claim with your own insurer.
This doesn't mean there are zero scenarios in which car accident victims can seek additional compensation from the insurance of negligent parties. If your losses/damages resulting from an accident are particularly severe, you can also file a claim with the insurance of the driver who caused your accident. Suing the negligent driver to pursue damages in court is also an option in these circumstances.
Proving your injuries and losses are severe enough to justify filing a third-party claim requires a thorough understanding of Kansas laws. A Kansas car accident attorney can review your case and determine if filing a third-party claim or lawsuit is worth considering.
You may be able to file a third-party claim or lawsuit if your accident caused:
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent injury
- Major injury to an important bone
- Permanent loss of control over a significant bodily function
Kansas Car Accident Facts
The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) offers data that can provide a general picture of motor vehicle accident trends in the state. The most recent data is from 2020. Trends may have shifted somewhat since then.
Noteworthy facts and data include:
- A total of 52,469 accidents occurred in Kansas in 2020
- 11,677 accidents resulted in injury
- 40,400 accidents resulted solely in property damage
- Failure to "give full time and attention" contributed to 18.5% of accidents
- The presence of animals on or near the road contributed to 13.3% of accidents
- 9.6% of accidents involved failure to yield the right-of-way; 6.2%, motorists following too closely; and 6.5%, motorists driving too fast for the conditions in which they were driving
- Speeding contributed to 4,599 accidents
- Alcohol played a role in 2,226 accidents
- Pedestrians were involved in 821 accidents
- 58.5% of accidents occurred during daylight hours; 85.1% in good weather conditions; and 82.9% on roads that were relatively dry
Motorists in Kansas can learn key lessons from this data, which may help them minimize their odds of being harmed in accidents. Such lessons include:
- Paying attention is key: KDOT data indicates that driver inattention is the top contributing factor in accidents. This may be an increasingly significant problem due to the rise of smartphones. It's therefore very important that motorists pay attention to the road when driving. That said, you can't control the choices others make. An accident might occur because another driver is distracted. Contact a Kansas car accident lawyer if this happens.
- Car accidents can happen anywhere and at any time: Exercising caution when driving at night or in harsh weather conditions is critical. There is never a time when drivers can let their guard down.
- Understanding who has the right-of-way is essential: Failure to yield the right-of-way is another factor playing a major role in Kansas car accidents. Drivers can guard against accidents by ensuring they always know who has the right-of-way in various driving situations.
- Adjusting speed in unsafe conditions is important: Drivers must always obey the speed limit. Driving too fast will increase your chances of being harmed in an accident. That said, you must also account for road and weather conditions when choosing your speed. Even if you're driving below the speed limit, you may still be driving too fast if conditions are hazardous.
KDOT data also reveals that accidents may be more common on certain days of the year. Consider the following:
- 160 accidents occurred on and around New Year's Eve/Day in 2020
- 467 accidents occurred over Super Bowl weekend
- 673 accidents occurred over Halloween weekend
- 492 accidents occurred on and around Thanksgiving
Such trends are common throughout the country. During holidays, many people don’t have work and may be traveling. This can result in crowded roads. The more motorists there are on the road, the greater the odds that accidents will occur.
Attempting to limit your driving during dangerous times of year and exercising general caution can reduce your chances of being harmed in an accident. However, you can’t control the choices others make behind the wheel. You might thus one day be harmed in an accident resulting from the negligence of another party.
Whether your accident was a random occurrence or a result of negligence, a Kansas car accident attorney can help you seek the compensation for which you may be eligible.
Your Kansas car accident lawyer may conclude that you have grounds to seek additional compensation by filing a claim with the insurance of the driver who injured you. To show that you deserve to receive compensation, your lawyer will need to demonstrate that your accident resulted from negligence.
A negligence case consists of these key elements:
- Duty: In any negligence case, it must be established that the liable party had a duty of care to the injured party. Establishing this element of a case is typically easy when a victim sustained injuries in a car accident. This is because all motorists have a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians with whom they share the road.
- Breach: Negligence occurs when a party breaches their duty of care. Such a breach can take many forms. For example, a person has committed a breach if they get behind the wheel while intoxicated. They might also commit a breach in more subtle ways, such as not fully paying attention to the road while driving.
- Cause: Establishing that a breach occurred is not enough to show that a victim is eligible to receive compensation. Your Kansas car accident attorney must also show that said breach caused your injuries and losses.
- Damages: The final element of a negligence case involves proving that your accident caused you to incur damages for which you may receive financial compensation.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is a legal principle your Kansas car accident attorney may cite when building a case against a third party. According to negligence per se, a party is assumed to be negligent if they were breaking a law whose purpose is to prevent accidents when an accident occurred.
For example, negligence per se involves whether the driver who caused your accident was:
- Breaking texting-while-driving laws
- Ignoring traffic signs and/or signals
Those are just a few examples. A driver may be considered negligent even if they weren't breaking a law at the time of your accident. A Kansas car accident lawyer who understands the nuances of these cases can gather evidence showing a breach still occurred even if a law was not broken.
Various factors can influence the types of compensation that may be available to you after an accident. Discussing your case with a Kansas car accident attorney can help you better understand what your claim may be worth.
Generally, your own insurance should provide compensation for such losses as:
- Medical bills
- Loss of income
- The cost of in-home services
- Rehabilitation costs
These are all "economic damages." Be aware, sometimes, victims of car accidents may continue to incur economic damages throughout their lives.
Maybe your injuries are quite severe. Perhaps they have left you in need of ongoing medical care. They might also indefinitely prevent you from returning to work.
You may deserve to receive compensation for these future losses. A qualified Kansas car accident lawyer can estimate the amount of compensation you may deserve by calculating the potential cost of these future losses.
(Note: It's important to understand that a lawyer can't promise you will receive a specific amount of money when your case is settled.)
If you file a third-party claim or lawsuit, you might also seek compensation for non-economic losses/damages. These are damages that don't have an objective dollar value. Examples include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
Assigning a potential dollar value to these losses is another task your lawyer can assist you with.
Comparative Negligence in Kansas
Some car accidents result solely from the negligence of one party. Others may occur due to a combination of multiple parties' negligence. Even a car accident victim's negligence can play a role in their collision or injuries.
Consider this example: You're slightly exceeding the speed limit when a drunk driver, who was paying more attention to their phone than the road, runs a red light and collides with your vehicle.
There's no denying the other driver was negligent. They were breaking multiple traffic safety laws when the accident occurred. However, you were also breaking the law by speeding.
This can impact the amount of compensation you may receive. Like many states, Kansas has a comparative negligence law.
This law allows accident victims to seek compensation even when their own negligence played a role in their accidents. They may still seek compensation as long as their percentage of fault doesn't exceed that of the other negligent parties.
For instance, if a victim is 40% to blame for their accident, and the other party is 60% to blame, a victim can seek compensation. If a victim is 51% to blame, and the other party is 49%, they can't seek compensation.
That said, a victim's percentage of fault will influence the amount of compensation they receive. Perhaps a victim would have been eligible to receive a maximum of $10,000 from a negligent party's insurance, if said negligent party was 100% responsible for the accident occurring.
However, it's determined that the victim was 20% to blame. This means the most they could receive is $8,000.
A Kansas car accident attorney can explain how this law might affect your case. The main point to understand is that you might still be eligible to receive compensation even if you were negligent.
Car Accident Statistics for the 5 Most Populous Kansas Cities
Per the United States Census Bureau, Wichita had a population of 397,532 as of 2020. The most recent motor vehicle accident data from KDOT indicates in the same year:
- 7,018 accidents occurred in Wichita
- 2,418 accidents resulted in injury
- 4,556 accidents resulted only in property damage
- Speeding was a factor in 706 accidents
- Alcohol was a factor in 352 accidents
Overland Park's population was 197,238 in 2020, during which:
- 2,806 accidents occurred in Overland Park
- 752 accidents resulted in injury
- 2,047 accidents resulted in property damage only
- Speeding was a factor in 178 accidents
- Alcohol was a factor in 125 accidents
In 2020, Kansas City's population was 156,607, during which:
- 3,379 accidents occurred in Kansas City
- 890 accidents resulted in injury
- 2,466 accidents resulted in property damage only
- Speeding was a factor in 749 accidents
- Alcohol was a factor in 193 accidents
Olathe had a population of 141,290 in 2020. In the same year:
- 1,837 accidents occurred in Olathe
- 415 accidents resulted in injury
- 1,418 accidents resulted solely in property damage
- Speeding played a role in 104 accidents
- Alcohol was a factor in 82 accidents
Topeka's 2020 population was 126,587, during which:
- 2,811 accidents occurred in Topeka
- 565 accidents resulted in injury
- 2,235 accidents resulted in property damage only
- Speeding was a factor in 143 accidents
- Alcohol was a factor in 103 accidents
It's not clear why Topeka sees more annual accidents than Olathe, despite having a smaller population. It's possible the city's high accident rate is partially due to the fact that multiple major highways run through it. Olathe has a high population due to its proximity to Overland Park and Kansas City. However, it may not present driving conditions and situations as hazardous as those in Topeka.
That said, accidents can occur anywhere in Kansas. They can also occur even when a driver is being cautious. Maybe you've been injured in an accident because someone else was negligent.
Regardless of the cause, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills and other such losses in these circumstances. Learn more about doing so by reviewing your case with a lawyer. A Kansas car accident attorney can help you pursue the compensation you may be entitled to. Get started today.