There are two common questions after a person is hurt in an automobile crash.
1) How do I get my vehicle repaired?
2) How will my medical bills be paid for my personal injuries?
It is important to understand that insurance policies and Kansas law have different rules that apply to property damage (to the vehicle) and bodily injuries (personal injuries).
Let’s look at a hypothetical example of an automobile crash to demonstrate how these different rules may apply.
Let’s assume that a person is driving to visit family in another city. On the way, a semi-truck suddenly crosses the center line and hits the driver-side corner of the person’s car. The person’s car spins into a ditch on the side of the road, the airbags deploy, and the person feels severe pain. In addition, the left front end of the person’s car is seriously damaged. After the crash, the person is able to call 911 to get the local Sherriff to respond to the scene of the crash. The person is then taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital, and the car is towed away to a nearby storage location. In this example, the person will have damage to both the car (property damage) and medical expenses (personal injuries).
There are two ways that the property damage could be paid. First, if the person has property-damage coverage under the person’s own insurance policy, then the person can pay the listed deductible and have the insurance provider issue payment for the cost to repair the vehicle. If the vehicle is considered a “total loss,” meaning it would cost more to repair the car than the car is worth, the insurance company would send payment for the value of the car at the time of the crash, minus the cost of the deductible. The person could later recover the amount of the deductible from the semi-truck driver after resolving a claim for the property damage and bodily injuries.
However, if the car owner does not have property-damage coverage (often when a person has a cheaper “liability only” policy), then a claim must be brought against the semi-truck driver for the value of the repair or the car in the event of a total loss. Even—perhaps especially—if there is no property-damage coverage under the car owner’s insurance policy, the car should be moved out of the storage facility as quickly as possible because there is typically a daily storage fee that begins accruing from the first day the car is towed to the storage lot.
As for the medical expenses, the first $4,500 of expenses are payable through the car owner’s own insurance policy known as “PIP coverage,” which is available no matter who is at fault for the crash and is mandatory under Kansas law. For more information about PIP coverage, read here. https://rbr3.com/what-you-should-know-about-kansas-personal-injury-protection-pip-coverage/
Assuming the person requires more than $2,000 in medical treatment (almost certain in the hypothetical scenario above), the person may open a claim or file a lawsuit to recover the cost of the medical expenses. Navigating the medical portion of an injury claim is complicated because there are often “liens,” meaning payments already made through PIP coverage or a personal health insurance policy, that must be repaid. And there may be additional treatment required, which may make early claim resolution a poor choice due to the need for additional funds to cover future treatment. It is highly recommended that any person with serious personal injuries retain an attorney as quickly as possible following a car crash in Kansas. The legal expertise in this area of the law is often invaluable!
There are of course other forms of damages that may be recovered under Kansas law, such as lost wages and pain and suffering, but there are different rules and considerations for those damages that an attorney is better suited to explain on a case-by-case basis. The above information should be helpful to understand the two most common questions following a car crash in Kansas.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, contact us for a free case evaluation. 620.227.8126.