Many people get confused when insurance companies tell them after a car accident that Kansas is a “no-fault state.” This means that all involved in the collision must claim their insurance company, even if they are not responsible for the accident. And, it may inhibit the victim’s right to sue. Due to these restrictions, how can the injured driver receive the settlement they deserve for expenses and suffering? At Brian & Brian Pistotnik Law Offices, we can help you better understand the Kansas no-fault laws and how they affect your claim. Start with this breakdown of no-fault laws, and reach out to our experienced attorneys for further details.
No-Fault Laws in Detail
No-fault laws are fairly straightforward. When you are in a collision, whether you are the driver, passenger, or a pedestrian—Kansas no-fault laws mandate that your own insurance company has to pay certain benefits upfront. These benefits are known as personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. These laws help injured victims get some of their medical bills paid soon after their collision and provide wage loss payments before seeking a settlement from the person who was at fault. With these laws, those involved may bypass a lawsuit. But with the no-fault system, those without serious injury can’t recover their damages from the at-fault party, including pain, suffering, and other non-economic losses.
A serious injury usually results in at least $2000 of medical bills. Other serious injuries include a fracture to a weight-bearing bone, permanent disfigurement, or any kind of permanent disability. Once you qualify for coverage with a serious injury, you “breach the threshold.” This means that you have a case where you can seek damages for pain, mental anguish, disability, disfigurement, inconvenience, loss of time, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.
Reimbursing Your Insurance Company
When you receive a settlement from the insurance company of the at-fault person after getting payments from your insurance company, you traditionally have to reimburse your insurance company for the settlement. The reason for reimbursement is simple. If you were allowed to collect medical bills, wage loss, and other PIP benefits from your own insurance company and then later you collect those same damages from the insurance company for the negligent person, you would be getting paid twice.
However, when the negligent party has insufficient insurance and you are not getting paid for duplicative damages, the insurance company providing PIP payments has to waive their claim to get repaid. And if there is a determination that you have a comparative fault and are partially negligent in causing the wreck, the insurance company providing PIP payments must reduce the amount they get reimbursed by whatever fault is attributed to you. The insurance company must also pay a proportionate share of attorney fees when they get their money back to save the injured victim from paying attorney fees on that part of the recovery.
Types of Personal Injury Protection Benefits
Usually, there are five types of PIP benefits available. Kansas requires that auto insurance policies include minimum coverage on these benefits, but you can purchase higher package options as well.
For medical bills related to the wreck, the minimum coverage from your insurance company is up to $4500 for your medical expenses. This includes reimbursing you for your prescription purchases related to the wreck.
For wage loss, the minimum is $900 per month for up to one year. Wage loss is reimbursed at 85% of the gross wage loss, and the insurance companies require two forms of documentation.
- You have to get an off-work slip from your doctor confirming what time frame you are unable to work.
- You must also have written wage loss verification from your employer confirming your absence and rate of pay.
A less used PIP benefit is called substitution services, or essential services. If your injury prevents you from doing your chores at home and you pay someone else to do those chores, you can get reimbursed up to $25 a day for up to 365 days. You need documentation from your doctor that these services are necessary due to your injuries. And, the doctor’s note needs to specify what time frame you needed this assistance. You also need documentation of your payments to others, such as receipts for their work.
Finally, there is a PIP benefit called occupational rehabilitation which provides up to $4500 towards occupational therapy or psychiatric services aimed at restoring your ability to work following an injury. This does not include physical therapy which is billed under medical services.
For cases resulting in a loss of life, there are PIP benefits to assist with funeral expenses up to $2000 and survivors’ benefits to pay dependent heirs. This pays the wage loss of the deceased up to $900 per month for a year to the heirs.
Each of these no-fault benefits is available even if the collision is your fault. In these cases, you get PIP benefits but not a settlement from the other driver for damages like pain and suffering.
Work With an Attorney that Understands Kansas No-Fault Laws
You deserve the best defense, and Brian & Brian at Pistotnik Law are dedicated to delivering the highest standard of legal representation. Don’t wait to contact a personal injury lawyer after suffering a collision. Reach out to us as soon as possible to begin forming and strengthening your case and for more information regarding Kansas no-fault laws! We offer free, no-obligation consultations, and our services are satisfaction guaranteed. To begin, give us a call at 316-689-8035 or send us a message. Our lawyers will get in touch with you shortly to discuss the details of your collision and determine the right plan of action for your settlement.