Today’s cars are safer than ever, yet even with the latest safety features, the number of auto accidents is rising, with more than 4.5 million people injured in U.S. car accidents annually.¹
The State of Kansas has its share of car accidents, with yearly studies reporting more than 59,000 traffic accidents resulting in 13,000 people injured or killed.²
Car accidents happen when you least expect them. One minute you’re driving along your usual route. The next minute you’re part of an accident scene, waiting for help to arrive.
You can’t avoid every accident, but you can be ready to protect yourself when an accident happens. Your successful insurance claim starts at the accident scene, if you know what to say and do, and just as importantly, what not to say or do.
What You Need to Know if You’ve Been in a Kansas Car Accident
If you’ve been the victim of a Kansas car accident, you’ll want to be fully compensated for your personal injuries and damaged property. This guide can help.
Here are 10 steps to help you build a successful car insurance claim. We’ve also answered 31 of the most frequently asked questions about accident claims.
Tell the 911 dispatcher:
Your location: Emergency responders can get there faster if they know where to find you, so tell the dispatcher the roadway you’re on, which direction you were heading, the nearest intersections or mile markers, GPS coordinates, or any landmarks that will help pinpoint your location.
Possible injuries: Tell the dispatcher if anyone is hurt or asking for medical help.
Scene description: Accident scenes can be unsafe, with lots of commotion around the wrecked cars and from passing traffic. Tell the dispatcher if anyone may be in danger, if there are overturned vehicles, or if there are hazards in the area like leaking fuel or downed power lines.
Dispatchers will usually send a police officer to an accident scene that has reported hazards, requires traffic control, or where people are injured.
When anyone has been injured or killed in a Kansas car accident, drivers must provide their name, address, car registration and insurance information, and if asked, also show their driver’s license.
Kansas law also requires drivers to give “reasonable assistance” to anyone who was hurt or is asking for medical help. This means making arrangements to transport the injured person for medical treatment, either by driving them yourself or by calling for emergency services.
Your injuries from a car accident may be obvious, like deep gashes or broken bones. But accident injuries aren’t always easy to see, even critical injuries like head trauma or internal bleeding. Some injury symptoms may not appear for hours or even days after the crash.
Never refuse medical treatment at the scene. Tell emergency responders about any symptoms you’re experiencing, even if you think they are mild. Distress or shock can mask injury symptoms. If paramedics want to transport you to the hospital, go.
If you are not taken directly to a hospital from the accident scene, make sure you are seen by a medical provider as soon as possible after the accident.
Refusing or delaying medical treatment after an accident can seriously undermine your insurance claim when the insurance company contends that your injuries were not caused by the accident.
If you’ve hit a parked and unattended vehicle, you must stop at the scene. Try to find the owner and share your name, address and the name and address of the car owner, if you were driving a car belonging to someone else.
If you can’t find the owner of the vehicle, leave a note in an obvious place on the car. The note should have your name, address, registration information for your car, and an explanation of what happened.
You must also report the accident to local police as soon as possible.
Unless an officer is already on the scene, drivers must immediately contact the local police by the fastest method available when an accident has caused death or injury to any person or property damage of $1,000 or more.
You must also notify police if you’ve hit an unattended vehicle and haven’t located the owner, regardless of the amount of damage.
You must provide your name, address, vehicle registration and auto insurance information to the driver or occupants of the other car. If requested, you must also show your driver’s license to the driver or occupants of the other vehicle.
To ask for your copy of the police accident report go to the Kansas Highway Patrol Accident Report Request page.
When you’ve been injured, or your vehicle is damaged in an accident, you’ll want to be fully compensated for your damages.
To get a fair insurance settlement, you’ll need evidence that the at-fault driver was negligent or did something wrong.
Gathering evidence at the accident scene will significantly help your claim with the insurance company, especially if the accident happened because of a negligent driver.
Accident scenes change quickly. Damaged cars are soon towed, and the drivers and witnesses leave. Take advantage of the critical window of time right after the accident to get information and comments from the other driver, passengers, and any witnesses.
Take pictures or video of the cars, the road conditions and anything in the area that affected what happened.
Make notes of the date and time, the weather, if it was daylight or dark, and anything else you saw, heard or even smelled (like alcohol) before, during and after the accident.
Property damages include:
- Vehicle repair costs
- Rental costs while your car is being repaired
- Car value, if it is “totaled”
Personal injury damages can include:
- Medical, chiropractic, and therapy bills
- Out-of-pocket expenses for medical needs
- Costs of travel for treatment
- Mental health services
- Pain and suffering
Be prepared to exchange the following information with the other driver:
- Name and address
- Vehicle owner name and address, if different from driver
- Vehicle registration information
- Driver’s license information
- Insurance information
Passengers: Ask for all passengers’ full names, dates of birth, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and any other contact information. Passengers don’t have to disclose information to you, but you can make notes for yourself about how many passengers, their ages, what they looked like, how they were acting, and any passenger statements you heard.
Vehicles: Look for the make, model, year, license plate number, expiration date, and vehicle identification number (VIN) for each vehicle involved in the accident. The VIN can normally be found on the car’s dashboard in the left corner at the bottom, on the driver’s insurance card, or inside the door jamb of the driver’s side door. Don’t enter the other driver’s vehicle without permission.
Witnesses: Witnesses are not obligated to stay and speak with you, but you can try to talk with potential witnesses long enough to determine if they saw anything that might help your claim. If you have a willing witness, ask for their name, address, phone numbers, e-mail address, and if they’ll write down a statement of what they observed. Have the witness sign and date any written statement.
Diagrams: Make a drawing of the crash scene showing where each car was before and after the accident. Indicate the direction each car was heading. Include notes on road conditions, the weather, road construction, and anything else that contributed to the accident.
Yes. Taking pictures or videos with your cell phone, camera or any other device is tremendously helpful to your claim. Take as many photographs and videos as you safely can from different angles.
Photos and video footage can show important details of the vehicles involved, the accident scene and the surrounding area. Sometimes, pictures or video can show how the drivers and passengers were behaving, apparent intoxication, and other significant factors that may have been involved.
Photographs and videos often become convincing evidence that makes it harder for those involved to change their story after the accident.
We’ve made it easier for you, with a free Car Accident Information Form. Keep a copy of the form and a pen in your car along with your proof of insurance. You’ll always be ready to collect important information you need from an accident scene.
Your auto insurance policy is a legal contract between you and the insurance company. You want your auto insurance to protect you if anything happens while you are driving.
Understanding your obligations under the policy will keep those protections in force after an accident.
Most auto policies have a Notice of Occurrence and Cooperation clause. The clause means you agree to tell your insurance company when you are in an accident, and you also agree to cooperate with your insurance company’s accident investigation. The clause will look something like this:
“Insured (you) agrees to notify the insurer (your insurance company) of any accidents and thereafter comply with all information, assistance, and cooperation which the insurer reasonably requests, and agrees that in the event of a claim the insurer and the insured will do nothing that shall prejudice the insurer’s position…”
Yes. There are apps for Apple and Android devices to make reporting a Kansas car accident faster and easier. Many of the apps help you collect vital information and start the insurance claims process.
Accident report apps can help:
- Gather personal information, including driver’s license information, car registration, and insurance information
- Collect witness names and contact information
- Create diagrams of the accident scene
- Take photographs and video
- Pinpoint the GPS location of the accident scene
- Notify your insurance company
Below are a few free accident reporting applications. Check with your insurance company to see if they offer a similar app.
Yes. You agreed to report all accidents to your insurance company, even if an accident wasn’t your fault or no one seems to be hurt.
Your insurance company needs to hear your side of the story as soon as possible. By promptly alerting your insurer, and cooperating with their investigation, you give the insurance company the best chance to protect your interests.
Reporting the accident, even a fender-bender, will help protect you later if the other driver tries to blame you for the crash, or anyone from the other car starts to complain of injuries.
If the other driver hires an attorney, you can be sure their attorney will notify your insurance company, putting you and the insurance company in a tough spot if you hadn’t already reported the accident.
Failing to notify your insurance company can cause the company to charge more for your premiums, decide not to renew your policy, or even cancel your auto insurance.
Here’s a sample Notice of Occurrence Form with examples of accident details to tell your insurance company.
Kansas is a No-Fault Insurance state. No-Fault means that if you are in an accident with another vehicle, no matter who caused the accident, each driver must file a claim for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage under their own policy to pay for medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages.
PIP will not pay for property damages, or pain and suffering resulting from injuries. However, for property damage, and some kinds of serious injuries, you can seek compensation from the at-fault driver.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) protects you and anyone else covered under your auto policy. Kansas requires PIP coverage of at least:
- $4,500 per person for medical expenses
- $900 per month for one year for disability or lost income
- $25 per day for one year for in-home services
- $2,000 for funeral, burial or cremation expense
- $4,500 for rehabilitation expense
Kansas PIP coverage must also provide up to a year’s worth of Survivor Benefits with $900 per month for disability or lost income, and $25 per day for in-home services.
Liability Insurance covers injuries or damage to other people or property when you are at fault for an accident.
Kansas requires at least minimum Liability Insurance coverage for bodily injury in the amounts of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, as well as $25,000 per accident for property damage.
Uninsured Motorist coverage is triggered if you are injured in an accident caused by a driver who has no insurance.
Underinsured Motorist coverage comes into play when you’re injured in an accident caused by another driver, and the cost of your injuries is more than the at-fault driver’s liability coverage.
In Kansas, drivers must carry Uninsured/Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
Visit the Kansas Insurance Department website for more information on coverage types, rates, and shopping for insurance in Kansas.
You can pursue the at-fault driver for your pain, suffering, mental anguish, out-of-pocket medical expenses, lost wages, and more when your medical expenses have exceeded $2,000, or you’ve suffered any of these types of injuries:
- Permanent disfigurement
- Fracture of a weight-bearing bone
- Compound, comminuted, displaced or compressed fracture
- Amputation or loss of use of a body part
- Permanent injury
If you want compensation for severe injuries from a Kansas auto accident, you have three options:
- File a claim with your own insurance company
- File a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company
- Sue the at-fault driver
Kansas follows a modified Comparative Negligence rule, meaning you can file an accident claim against the other driver, even if you are partially at fault (liable) for the accident, so long as the other driver is more to blame for the accident than you.
If you are 50% or more to blame for the accident, you won’t be able to recover any damages from the other driver. If your liability is 49% or less, you can still receive a settlement, but the amount will be adjusted according to your share of liability for the accident.
Example of how Kansas comparative negligence law can affect a settlement:
John was driving west on Cedar Street to pick up his daughter from daycare. He was texting his wife to let her know he was running late.
At the same time, Jane was driving northbound on Washington Street, heading home from school. As she approached the intersection of Washington and Cedar, she sped up to make it through the intersection before the yellow traffic light turned red.
Unfortunately, the light turned red as Jane entered the intersection. She crashed into the side of John’s car, causing serious injuries to John.
John was seeking $100,000 for his personal injury claim, to cover his medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Jane’s insurance company refused to pay more than $50,000, so John sued Jane.
During trial, the evidence showed Jane failed to stop at the red light, so she was legally responsible for causing the accident. However, the jury also saw evidence that showed John was texting at the time of the accident.
While the jury agreed that John’s personal injury claim was worth $100,000, they determined that he was 20% at fault because he was texting while driving. Jane was 80% at fault for the crash, for failing to stop at the red light.
Since Jane was more to blame for the auto accident, under the Kansas comparative negligence law, John was awarded $80,000 (80%) of his damage claim.
If the jury had determined that John was 50% or more at fault, he wouldn’t have recovered any money for his personal injury claim.
No. Because of Kansas’ comparative negligence law, it is never appropriate to discuss fault at an accident scene. Avoid the mistake of making a statement that can be used against you. Every accident is unique, and you simply don’t have enough information to admit fault.
Until the accident has been carefully investigated, you won’t know about acts or omissions by the other driver that contributed to the accident.
Remember, the Kansas comparative negligence law means that if the other driver is partially to blame for the accident or more to blame than you, they may only be entitled to a partial settlement or nothing at all from you or your insurance company.
When the local police, county sheriff, or Kansas Highway Patrol arrive at the accident scene they are there to perform an important job; one that can ultimately help you with your property damage and personal injury insurance claim.
Law enforcement officers are highly trained in accident investigation. When the police respond to a car crash, they are authorized to:
- Secure the accident scene
- Make arrangements for the care and transport of the injured
- Take statements from the drivers, passengers, and witnesses
- Conduct sobriety tests
- Determine fault
- Issue traffic citations
No. While you have the right to try to explain your side of the story, the officer is not required to listen to you. The police have a job to do. When a police officer asks you to wait or otherwise gives you instructions, you must cooperate.
Don’t argue with the police. Challenging remarks like “Give me your badge number. I want to talk to your boss!” not only interfere with the accident investigation, but they can also lead to a citation, or possibly your arrest.
If the investigating officer decides you violated Kansas traffic laws, you may be issued one or more citations. You can try to convince the officer not to give you a ticket, but once the citation is issued, you should accept it.
Accepting a traffic ticket is not an admission of guilt. If you want to dispute the citation do it in court, not at the accident scene.
Some insurance claims can be settled without an attorney. Other claims need an experienced attorney to persuade the insurance company to pay enough to adequately compensate you for your damages.
Before deciding to represent yourself in a personal injury claim, think about the type of injuries you suffered in the accident:
“Soft tissue” injuries include scrapes and bruises, strains and sprains, and similarly minor injuries. Soft tissue injury claims are uncomplicated and usually consist of medical, chiropractic, or physical therapy bills, some lost wages, and a limited amount of pain and suffering.
Soft tissue injuries don’t usually need a lot of expensive medical tests, and can often be settled without expert medical testimony, legal procedures, or filing a lawsuit.
“Hard” injuries are much more serious and can include deep lacerations, multiple fractures, internal bleeding, head trauma, extensive burns, and similar severe, and sometimes life-threatening injuries. Hard injury claims are complicated, requiring the insurance company to pay out significantly more money for a fair settlement.
There’s just too much at risk for you to represent yourself in a severe injury claim.
Convincing the insurance company to pay what your claim is worth when you’ve suffered hard injuries usually involves expert medical testimony, subpoenas for records, interrogatories, depositions, the threat of litigation, and more.
When you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, you have limited power to handle insurance negotiations and legal procedures on your own. Without an experienced attorney, once the insurance company makes their “final” offer, you probably won’t have the knowledge or energy to fight them. Insurance companies count on that and regularly offer far less settlement money to claimants without legal representation.
Experienced personal injury attorneys have the skills, knowledge and legal tools needed to convince the insurance company to pay a settlement amount you deserve, to fairly compensate you for your injuries and suffering.
Most reputable personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation. You may consult with more than one attorney before selecting the one who will fight for you.
If you’ve been seriously injured, gather your medical records, accident report, witness statements and other accident-related documents. Bring those documents to the first consultation with each attorney you meet.
After reviewing your documents, the attorney will discuss your claim’s value, how long it could take to settle, and if you’ll need to file a lawsuit.
Personal injury attorneys normally charge a contingency fee, meaning that your attorney’s fees will be paid out of your insurance settlement or court award. Contingency fees can range from 25% up to around 40% of the gross settlement amount or court verdict.
If your attorney doesn’t settle your claim or loses your case in court, you won’t pay any attorney fees.
The purpose of small claims court is to provide an informal way for people to settle small legal cases without an attorney.
There are no attorneys allowed in Kansas small claim court unless an attorney is suing someone. In that case, the other party will be allowed to bring an attorney.
Small claims cases are decided by a district judge.
Filing a small claims lawsuit may be a good option if:
- The insurance company offers a low-ball settlement
- The insurance company denies your claim
- The at-fault driver was uninsured
- An attorney won’t take your case on a contingency basis
Kansas small claims courts allow cases for claims valued up to $4,000.
Your Kansas small claims court action should be filed against the at-fault driver, not the driver’s insurance company.
Go the the Kansas Court Small Claims page for more information about filing a small claims case.
A statute of limitations is the legal time period for an accident victim to either settle their insurance claim or file a lawsuit.
If you miss the statute of limitations deadline, you will lose your legal right to pursue your claim with the negligent driver or the driver’s insurance company.
Kansas has a two-year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims.
The statute starts to “run” on the accident date. This means you have two years from the date of the accident to settle your claim or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
The insurance company and the claims adjuster aren’t obligated to settle your claim before your time runs out. If negotiations are going slowly, it’s up to you to be vigilant about the statute of limitations deadline.
The insurance company doesn’t have to settle your claim before the statute of limitations expires. If you miss the two-year deadline, there is nothing you can do to make the insurance company pay for your damages.
Don’t risk forfeiting your claim. If you don’t have a signed settlement agreement in your hands, don’t wait until the statutory deadline to protect your claim.
Remember, the insurance company doesn’t have the authority to give you an “extension” on the statute of limitations. They know what happens if your claim isn’t settled and you haven’t sued their insured before the deadline.
If you don’t file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver within two years of the car accident date, you can’t do it later by blaming the insurance company.
Keep a sharp eye on the statute of limitations deadline for your accident. Schedule alerts on your phone, mark the date on your calendar, or whatever it takes to remind you. Don’t wait until the last day to act on preserving your claim.
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