Kansas being a no-fault state provides a clear cut process for drivers that are involved in an auto accident. Although this process is clear cut there are circumstances and allowances within the process to allow for fault assignment and damage awards beyond insurance coverages. These are laid out below.
No Fault Accidents
In the vast majority of accidents in Kansas, you will be required to follow a standard set of procedures that allow you to make a claim with your own insurer.
If you are involved in an accident, first never leave the scene of the accident. If you leave the scene of an accident you could face charges and license suspension. If your vehicle is drivable, pull it off to the side of the road, preferably out of the flow of traffic. Be sure of your surroundings and dangers before exiting the vehicle. Before you leave your vehicle, check yourself and passengers for injuries. If you are not sure, it is better to remain still and wait for an ambulance.
If you are uninjured than provide care and aid to those in your car and then the other vehicles involved in the accident or pedestrians. If injured, it is best to call 911 and wait for an ambulance to assess injuries before moving anyone.
An exchange of information is also required by Kansas law including your full contact details of name, address and contact details. Your license number, plate number and insurance policy number is also required to be exchanged, even though it is a no-fault state. If the accident involves injury, death or property damage in excess of $1000 then it needs to be reported to the police.
After these details have been taken care, then you will need to contact your insurance provider to follow up on a no-fault claim against your policy to cover injury expenses and property damages as allowed under your specific policy.
At-Fault in Kansas
Kansas does however allow you to go outside of your insurance claims and proceed with court proceedings for damages awards in two specific instances.
- If you spend more than $2000 on medical expenses as a direct result of the accident,
- or you receive serious injuries that include: the permanent loss of a body function, a permanent injury, a permanent disfigurement, break or fracture of a weight bearing bone or a compound, compressed, displaced or comminuted fracture of any other bone.
In these serious cases, you can go outside the no fault system and seek an at-fault judgment in court.
Comparative Fault Rulings
Like many other states, Kansas does ascribe to a comparative fault ruling system for cases that are tried outside the no-fault system. These comparative fault damages are awarded based upon what the court finds for fault in respect to all parties. As a 50 percent bar rule state, in Kansas if your assigned fault is greater than 50% you are not eligible for any damages. As a comparative fault state if you are awarded 20% blame, then your damage award is reduced by the same percentage.
Severe DUI Consequences
Kansas also has one of the most severe punishment systems for DUI offenses. Not only are there administrative penalties but even a first offense in Kansas is considered a criminal offense. First offense gets 30 days license suspension, required ignition interlock device for 6 months to a year and a reinstatement fee. However the criminal penalties include mandatory minimum jail terms of 48 hours, 100 hours of community service, $750-$1000 fines, license revocation, mandatory alcohol and drug treatment programs at your expense and the court costs. These penalties are assessed by the judge depending on the evidence in the case.
Contributing circumstances for harsher penalties even in a first offense include if a car accident was caused by the DUI, if there was injury or death caused, if a minor under 14 was in the car at the time of the offense, if it is your second or subsequent offense or if you registered a BAC over 0.15%.
Kansas is also an implied consent state for chemical tests, resulting in automatic license suspension if you refuse to submit to a drug or alcohol test in traffic stop.
When you are involved in a car accident in Kansas, even as it is a no-fault state, you should in most cases hire a car accident attorney if you were charged. This is especially true if you caused or were injured in any way, caused a death or was charged with DUI. In most other circumstances the right attorney still may be able to lessen the charges and penalties.