NO FAULT DOES NOT MEAN NO CASE
Insurance companies like to confuse people about the meaning of living in a no fault state like Kansas. Insurance companies refer people involved in wrecks to their own auto insurer to get these no fault benefits, but they fail to mention that they may have a case for their injuries. In the US, there are 12 states that have no fault insurance laws when it comes to car wrecks. Kansas is a no fault state. These laws are intended to require a person’s own auto insurer to provide very basic benefits to anyone injured in a car wreck. However, just because you may live in a no fault state does not mean you don’t have a case against someone else when their negligence causes you to be injured. The no fault laws are intended to stop people from having cases when their injuries are minimal. In Kansas, this means if your medical bills are less than $2000 and you don’t have a fracture, scarring, or permanency to the injury, you cannot recover for pain and suffering. Most people that go to an emergency room or see a doctor more than a few times do qualify as being able to have a case against the negligent driver. You should discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney.
WHAT ARE NO FAULT BENEFITS?
The benefits under Kansas laws are known as Personal Injury Protection Benefits, but when talking to the insurance companies, these benefits are commonly known as PIP benefits and are handled by a “PIP adjuster”. When you own a vehicle in Kansas, your personal auto insurer is required to provide these benefits to you if you are injured in a wreck or injured in any fashion while using your vehicle (like getting hurt while exiting your vehicle). The benefits include a minimum of $4500 that can be used to pay medical bills arising out of the wreck. The benefits include coverage for wage loss, with a minimum coverage of $900 per month calculated at 85% of pre-tax wage loss. Other less used benefits include an additional $4500 towards occupational therapy and essential services where your insurance company reimburses up to $25/day if you are paying others to help with your chores due to the injury.
WRONGFUL DEATH NO FAULT BENEFITS
The PIP benefits when someone dies related to a wreck include reimbursement of a minimum of $2000 towards funeral expenses and wage loss reimbursement known as survivors benefits, which pays the dependents a minimum of $900/month up to one year based on 85% of lost earnings of the deceased. If there are medical expenses, the $4500 of medical coverage is available. If the person survives for a time period prior to death, there are wage loss benefits.
WHICH INSURANCE COMPANY PROVIDES THESE BENEFITS?
If you are a titled owner of a vehicle, the benefits come from your own insurance company, even if your vehicle was not involved in the wreck. If you are not a titled owner, the benefits come from the vehicle you were riding in as a passenger. However, you may also be eligible for these benefits through any relative you resided with on the date of accident through the relative’s auto insurer. If you don’t own a vehicle, if the vehicle you were in was uninsured, if you don’t live with a relative, the State of Kansas has the Kansas Auto Assigned Claims Plan which provides benefits through the state. If you were a pedestrian struck by a car, and you don’t own a car, the insurer of the vehicle that struck you would provide you with benefits.
WHEN I GET A SETTLEMENT, DO I HAVE TO PAY MY OWN INSURANCE BACK FOR THE PIP BENEFITS?
The normal injury case settlement does require these PIP benefits to get reimbursed to your insurance company when you are getting paid for your damages in full. However, your insurer has to pay their share of attorney fees. The reasoning for the right of reimbursement is that if you collected for medical bills and wage loss from your own insurer and then collected again for these same damages from the negligent person’s insurer, you would be getting a double recovery and the law doesn’t favor a person getting paid twice for the same damages.
The PIP subrogation lien (right of reimbursement) can be waived and you don’t have to pay them back if your damages is higher than what you are getting from the negligent person’s insurer. In other words, if you get a policy limits offer and your damages are more than the coverage, it is common not to have to pay back your own insurer.