Under Kansas law, leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offence.
Licensed drivers must accept all state traffic laws. As such, all drivers are required to do the following after an accident, regardless of who was at fault:
- Remain at the scene
- Determine if anyone is injured and, if so, provide necessary assistance
- Exchange insurance and contact information
- Notify law enforcement and fill out a police report if there are injuries
Yet leaving the scene of an accident (“hit and run”) is relatively common in Kansas and usually happens because of:
- No insurance
- Legal problems
- No awareness that an accident occurred
- Impairment by drugs or alcohol
- Distracted or reckless driving (fault)
Regardless of the reason a driver left the scene, it is generally against the law. So, if you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident in Kansas, you have certain rights that a personal injury lawyer can help you to establish and exert.
What’s the first thing to do after being hit?
If you’re a motorcyclist hit by a road user who flees the scene of the accident, you may be highly disoriented and in need of urgent medical help.
Your priority will be to seek the necessary medical assistance and treatment. If possible, call for assistance if nobody else is present. It’s best to do this even if you think you’re relatively uninjured. Also, you should call law enforcement to the scene.
As soon as possible, start documenting the following:
- Your injuries
- Your location
- As much as you recall about the driver/car that hit you (license plate, make/model/color)
- Details of any witnesses who may have seen the accident
If possible, take video footage and/or pictures of the aftermath of the accident scene. If you’re fortunate enough for CCTV to be present in the area, point it out to the police if they have not already documented it.
The police will be keen to find the driver who struck you. If they cannot, at least you will have the police report when you claim compensation for your accident injuries.
Learn More Car → Accident Injury Rights and Compensation Guide for Kansas
What if the police locate the hit-and-run driver?
The driver who hit your motorcycle and fled the scene may be liable for criminal penalties as well as civil penalties — but that only applies if law enforcement can locate them.
Penalties for hit-and-run drivers in Kansas include fines and possible prison sentences, especially if the victim suffered injuries.
If you suffered minor injuries or property damage only, the driver may be charged with a misdemeanor, but this could be elevated to a felony crime for more serious injuries (or death).
To be compensated financially for your injuries, you will need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or (if the driver is uncooperative) file a lawsuit against the driver. You can do this regardless of whether criminal charges are filed against the driver (and regardless of whether these charges result in a conviction).
A compensation claim can be made against the driver for the following:
- Medical expenses related to your injuries
- Damage to your motorcycle or other property
- Lost wages (past, present and future)
- Pain and suffering
Insurance claims and civil lawsuits are notoriously challenging, especially when you’re recovering from hit-and-run accident injuries. It’s generally best to hire a personal accident lawyer to follow up for you and manage the claim/lawsuit from start to finish.
What if the hit-and-run driver cannot be located?
Many hit-and-run drivers are never identified or located. This not only means that they escape criminal justice, but it also makes it more challenging to claim the compensation you deserve for your accident injuries.
You can’t file a lawsuit or claim compensation from his/her insurance company. However, your health insurance provider may cover the medical costs associated with your accident.
Your auto insurance may cover some or all the expenses related to your lost wages or property damage — but it will be much more difficult to be compensated for pain and suffering without locating the driver.
For this, you may need to rely on your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (see below):
- No-fault coverage or “personal injury” insurance: provides compensation for accident losses regardless of who was at fault — but any claims may increase your future premiums.
- Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage: Kansas requires drivers to have uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This provides coverage if you’re hit by a driver who has insufficient insurance or no insurance at all and can help pay for medical expenses if the driver can’t be located, as well as lost wages and pain and suffering.
What penalties are there for a hit-and-run involving property?
If you’re in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident that causes no injuries but does cause property damage, the driver who fled the scene can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
This carries a potential one-month jail sentence, a fine of up to $500, and an immediate license suspension.
Penalties for a hit-and-run involving injury
If you’re in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident that causes bodily injuries, the driver who fled the scene can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor or even a felony.
A Class A misdemeanor carries a potential one-year jail sentence and a fine of up to $2,500, as well as an immediate license suspension.
If the accident results in the death of another road user, the hit-and-run driver is likely to face a felony charge with a potential 5-17 months in prison.
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident in Topeka, speak to a personal injury lawyer during a free case evaluation. We will begin by advising you of your legal options and assessing how best to claim the compensation you deserve for your accident injuries.