Wichita Car Accident Lawyers
Handling Complex Car Wreck Cases
The two Brians at Brian and Brian at Pistotnik Law know how to help you with your injuries due to your wreck. Car wrecks typically involve three cases: property damage to your vehicle, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits as part of Kansas No Fault laws, and bodily injury claims that allow you to get a settlement to recover for your medical bills, past and future, wage loss, past and future, other economic losses, as well as noneconomic losses including past and future pain and suffering, mental anguish, disability, disfigurement, inconvenience, loss of time, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium or loss of spousal services.
Don’t Wait to File Your Claim
According to the Kansas Statutes section, 60-513 the statute of limitations for car accident cases in Kansas is two years. This means you have two years from the date of your car accident to file a claim or you may lose your right to receive compensation. Kansas does recognize some exceptions to this two-year rule depending on the specifics of your case. An attorney from our firm can let you know if you qualify for an extension to the statute of limitations.
What Is Comparative Fault?
Kansas comparative fault pursuant to K.S.A. 60-258a requires an analysis of who was as fault for a collision. Passengers typically have no fault. Drivers are required to follow the rules of the road. The “rules of the road” are laws that have been in existence under the common law, as well as laws that are contained in Kansas statutes. A violation of a statute is negligence per se.
The laws impose many duties upon drivers, including but not limited to the following:
- A duty to keep a proper lookout
- A duty to drive at an appropriate speed
- A duty to maintain control of your vehicle
- A duty to keep a safe and appropriate distance between your vehicle and the vehicle you are following
- A duty to yield right of way under certain circumstances
- A duty to use reasonable care while driving
Obviously there are laws preventing drunk drivers from driving while drunk and laws preventing negligent motorists from texting while driving. Sometimes these extraordinarily dangerous activities can result in punitive damages in addition to actual damages. Distracted driving leads to many collisions and people get distracted for many reasons: animals or children in vehicles, use of cell phones, eating/drinking/smoking while driving, even using vehicle equipment like the radio or GPS while driving.
Damages You Can Recover in a Car Accident Cases
“Damages” is a legal term used to describe the types of compensation injury victims are eligible to pursue in a personal injury case. There are three types of damages available, economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Together economic and non-economic damages are known as “compensatory damages,” which are damages responsible for compensating the injured party for the losses they suffer. Compensatory damages are the most commonly talked about and awarded. Among other things, theses damages compensate the injured party for:
- Loss of income
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
The last type of damages, punitive damages, differ from the first two in that their main purpose is to punish the at-fault party rather than compensate the injured party. Because of this punitive damages are not often awarded in personal injury cases and are usually reserved for cases where the at-fault party knew they were behaving negligently.
What Does No Fault Insurance State Mean?
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.
No Fault Does Not Mean No Case
In the U.S., 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 from 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.
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 the accident through the relative’s auto insurer. If you don’t own a vehicle, if the vehicle you were in was uninsured, or 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.
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.
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 are 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.
Why You Need an Attorney
It is crucial to get legal advice as soon as possible after the collision, and we are ready to guide you through the whole process. Don’t allow the insurance company to record you in a recorded statement, as that is often the biggest mistake made by people who don’t have lawyers.
The experienced Wichita car accident lawyers at Brian and Brian at Pistotnik Law are ready to help you and explain to you the specific rights available to you for the particular circumstances of your wreck. Call now for free! No-cost consultations are available 24/7. Get help now, before a mistake is made.
Insurance companies are trained to contact you quickly to get you to give them information about the wreck. The information they obtain can and will be used against you in your case! The less contact you have with the insurance company, the less chance you will jeopardize your case. Let us handle the insurance company for you! Something as simple as a statement like, “I wasn’t paying attention to the other car,” or, “I don’t think I am hurt too bad,” can make a large difference on the value of your case later.
Types of Vehicle Accident Cases We Handle
- Car wrecks
- Truck wrecks
- Semi-truck wrecks
- Motorcycle wrecks
- Bicycle wrecks
- Pedestrian versus vehicle wrecks
The initial consultation at Brian and Brian at Pistotnik Law is always free and we charge nothing up front. No recovery, no charge, contact us today!