Any car accident is frightening enough but what happens in Kansas if you’re involved in an accident that was the fault of an uninsured or underinsured driver?
This situation complicates matters because not only is it against the law to be uninsured while driving but it can limit the amount of compensation that an injured party can claim from the negligent party.
Kansas state law requires that drivers carry a minimum of:
- $25,000 auto insurance for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 auto insurance for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 auto insurance for property damage per accident
Often, after a car accident, the best option is to pursue damages via the at-fault driver’s third-party insurance policy. If that option is not available, what can you do?
Let’s consider your legal options if you’re unfortunate enough to suffer injuries from an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver in Kansas…
Types of damages we can pursue in uninsured/underinsured accidents
Car accident expenses can quickly amount to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars with medical bills and damage to your vehicle. You shouldn’t be left to pay the costs of an accident that was no fault of yours.
Fortunately, all is not lost if the at-fault party had no (or minimal) insurance. Depending on the severity of your injuries, we may be able to pursue other avenues to claim the following expenses under Kansas personal injury laws:
- Medical, hospital and surgical expenses (past, present and future)
- Loss of income and earning potential (past, present and future)
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Home modifications
- Loss of consortium (deprivation of benefits of a family relationship)
- Loss of time/services
- Nursing home/attendant care expenses
Recovering these expenses may be possible but with an uninsured or underinsured driver, a positive outcome may require legal action from a car accident lawyer with experience in fighting such cases in the Kansas courts.
What if the driver flees the scene?
A driver may flee the scene of the accident in an attempt to avoid responsibility and/or because he/she has no auto insurance.
So-called “hit-and-run” accidents are, unfortunately, quite common in Kansas and can leave accident victims with more than just their injuries to worry about.
If the driver cannot be located, he or she is considered a “phantom motorist” and we may need to pursue an uninsured motorist claim on your behalf.
Who will pay for my uninsured motorist claim – and how much?
If you have the right insurance policy, you can make a claim to cover your accident-related expenses.
This is sometimes easier said than done because insurance companies are out to protect their own profit-based interests. They often deny or low-ball claims and it may take the involvement of an experienced car accident lawyer to recover the compensation you are due under Kansas law.
The threat of legal action usually convinces insurance companies to settle out of court but your lawyer may be required to protect your rights and assist in the negotiation process.
The value of your claim will depend on many factors. There is no formula to calculate this but your car accident lawyer should be able to provide an estimate based on previous cases.
As the innocent victim of the accident, it’s fair to expect full compensation for your accident expenses, including all of the types of expenses outlined above (if applicable).
Your lawyer should not settle for anything less than the maximum you are entitled to under the no-fault (PIP) and uninsured and underinsured insurance laws in Kansas.
What to do after an accident caused by an uninsured driver
If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, taking the following steps should help you protect your rights and strengthen any future claim.
- Report the accident to the police
By immediately calling 911 and reporting your accident (regardless of whether you think the accident is serious), you will receive emergency assistance and generate an official report of the accident. Get a copy of the police report as this will help with your insurance claim.
- Get the other driver’s details, if possible
Provided the other driver doesn’t flee the scene, be sure to get his/her name, address and license number (take a picture if possible). If there is a reluctance to provide these details, the police can get them when they arrive at the scene.
- Take other photos at the accident scene
If you are in a fit condition to do so and it’s safe, try to take photos and make a video of the accident scene. This will help determine the at-fault party, damage to vehicles, the positions of the vehicles, road signage, etc. Try to obtain the contact details of any witnesses too.
- Go for a medical checkup/medical treatment
This step will likely be the first step you take if the accident is serious and you have sustained obvious injuries. However, not all accident injuries are immediately clear (often due to shock) so you should always get a full medical checkup as soon as possible after a car accident so that any injuries can be documented.
- Inform your insurance company
Report the accident to your insurance provider as soon as possible. Just provide the basic details of the accident and resist the urge to say too much.
Your provider will be able to tell you the amount of your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, which is $25,000 per person minimum in Kansas ($50,000 per accident). If it is insufficient to cover your expenses, there may be other avenues that you can discuss with a lawyer for claiming compensation.
- Seek legal advice
Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency (“no win/no fee”) basis, with a free initial consultation, so it will cost nothing to get legal advice about your accident.
Accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers can get complex and claims are frequently underpaid or denied.
Contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible for a fair assessment of your claim and the recommended next steps. A seasoned lawyer will investigate the accident, gather evidence to prove fault and help you maximize your claim against an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Don’t discuss your accident claim with an insurance adjuster or sign any paperwork with the insurance company without first talking to a personal injury lawyer at ITR Law in Topeka. We offer a free case evaluation where we can advise you of your legal options.