Thinking about filing a Kansas personal injury (PI) insurance claim or lawsuit? Before you do, take some time to learn about the rules that will control your case. We'll walk you through the basics of the Kansas motor vehicle insurance system, deadlines for filing lawsuits in Kansas courts, limits on the damages you can collect, and more.
Like all states, Kansas has deadlines, called "statutes of limitations," that limit your time to file a lawsuit in court.
What happens if you don't know right away that you're injured? Kansas has adopted the "discovery rule," which might give you some additional time to file your lawsuit.
If your injury isn't "reasonably ascertainable" when it happens, then the statute of limitations doesn't begin to run until "the fact of injury becomes reasonably ascertainable… ." (Kan. Stat. § 60-513(c) (2023).) In other words, if your injury wasn't discoverable when it happened, the limitation clock starts running when you reasonably should have discovered you were injured.
There's a deadline on the discovery rule. This deadline is called a "statute of repose," and it runs (and can run out) even if you never discover your injury. For medical malpractice cases, the deadline is four years from the date of the malpractice.
In other PI cases, the same discovery rule applies. That is, the two-year limitation clock doesn't begin to run until "the fact of injury becomes reasonably ascertainable… ." (Kan. Stat. § 60-513(b) (2023).) Here, too, Kansas law has a statute of repose. You must file your PI lawsuit within 10 years from the date of the event that caused your injury.
You have one year from the date of the act that caused your injury to file a lawsuit for:
(Kan. Stat. § 60-514 (2023).)
As a rule, the statute of limitations doesn't run while an injured person is legally disabled. "Legal disability" usually means that a person is younger than 18 years old or is "incapacitated," typically by a mental or emotional illness or condition.
A legally disabled person must file suit within the earlier of:
(Kan. Stat. § 60-515(a) (2023).)
The statute of limitations doesn't run while the person you want to sue for your injuries (the "defendant") is outside of Kansas or is hiding. The clock starts running (or resumes) when the defendant returns to Kansas or comes out of hiding. (Kan. Stat. § 60-517 (2023).)
Before you can file a personal injury lawsuit against a Kansas municipality (as defined in Kan. Stat. § 12-105a(a) (2023)), you must file a written notice of your claim with the clerk or governing body of the municipality. Your notice must include the information required by Kan. Stat. § 12-105b(d) (2023).
You can't file a lawsuit unless your claim is completely or partially denied. When your claim is denied within 90 days of the expiration of the statute of limitations, you've got 90 days from the date of denial to file a lawsuit in court.
Kansas is a no-fault state. Among other things, this means you're required to buy no-fault auto insurance, in addition to the liability coverage mandated by Kansas law.
If you're injured in a Kansas motor vehicle accident, you first must look to your own no-fault insurance—called "personal injury protection" (PIP) coverage—to pay for your losses. PIP will pay you benefits even if the wreck was your fault. When you buy a Kansas auto liability policy (see below), it must include PIP coverage.
Here are the minimum PIP benefits required by Kan. Stat. § 40-3103 (2023):
$4,500 per person
Loss of income/disability
$900 per month
$25 per day
Funeral and burial/cremation
PIP benefits cover:
(Kan. Stat. § 40-3107(f) (2023).)
The advantage of no-fault insurance is that it pays your medical bills and lost wages more quickly than if you had to go after the at-fault driver's liability insurance coverage. The big disadvantage is that PIP won't pay you noneconomic damages for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and the like.
Kan. Stat. § 40-3113a(a) (2023) lets you bring a lawsuit if you're injured by a negligent (careless) driver, but only if you meet one or more of Kansas' injury severity thresholds. Specifically, you must show that your medical expenses are $2,000 or more, or that your injury involves:
(Kan. Stat. § 40-3117 (2023).)
You're not allowed to sue for noneconomic injuries if you were hurt in an auto accident while driving without the required PIP coverage. (Kan. Stat. § 40-3130(a) (2023).) This rule, sometimes called "no pay, no play," doesn't apply if:
You must bring a claim for PIP benefits within two years from the date of your injury. (Kan. Stat. § 40-3110(a) (2023).)
If you fail to sue an at-fault driver within 18 months after the date of the accident, your failure to sue acts as an assignment to your PIP insurer of your right to sue. (Kan. Stat. § 40-3113a(c) (2023).)
In addition to PIP, Kansas law requires that you have liability insurance, as well as uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverages.
With a few narrow exceptions, to register your motor vehicle in Kansas, it must be covered by liability insurance. (Kan. Stat. § 40-3118 (2023).) These are the minimum coverage amounts:
(Kan. Stat. § 40-3107(e) (2023).)
Under Kansas law, your liability insurance policy must include both UM and UIM coverages in amounts equal to your bodily injury liability insurance. (Kan. Stat. § 40-284(a)-(b) (2023).) If you have liability insurance that's greater than what Kansas law requires ($25,000/$50,000), you can waive UM and UIM coverages in excess of those amounts. (Kan. Stat. § 40-284(c) (2023).)
In a typical PI case, you must prove that the defendant was negligent. Quite often, the defendant will claim that you're at least partly to blame for the accident. This defense is called "comparative negligence," and it's available in Kansas.
Kansas has adopted what's called a "modified comparative negligence" rule. If you're partly to blame for an accident but your share of the negligence isn't more than 50% of the total, you can still recover some damages for your injuries. Your percentage share of the blame simply reduces the damages you get by that amount. If you're 50% or more to blame, though, you can't collect any damages. (Kan. Stat. § 40-258a(a) (2023).)
Suppose you were shopping in the grocery store. Because your attention was focused on items on the shelves, you didn't see a broken floor tile in your path. You tripped and fell on the tile, badly injuring your knee. You sued the grocery store for negligence. The store raised your comparative negligence as a defense.
After a trial, the jury found your total damages were $60,000 and assigned 80% of the fault to the store. But the jurors found you 20% to blame. How much of your total damages can you collect?
Because you were 20% at fault, you can collect 80% of your total damages: $60,000 x 80% = $48,000. What would be the outcome had the jury found you were 50% (or more) to blame? Under Kansas' modified comparative negligence rule, you'd collect zero damages.
Kansas, like many states, has enacted limits, sometimes called "caps," on personal injury damages. Specifically, Kan. Stat. § 60-19a02(b) (2023) caps per-person noneconomic damages in Kansas personal injury cases at:
The jury can't be told about these caps. (Kan. Stat. § 60-19a02(d) (2023).)
Filing a personal injury lawsuit—in Kansas or anywhere else—is likely to be a difficult and time-consuming task. Where and how you file suit will be controlled by Kansas court rules called the Rules of Civil Procedure. If you aren't familiar with these rules, you should think seriously about hiring an experienced Kansas PI lawyer to handle your case.
You start your Kansas PI lawsuit by filing a petition with the district court. (Kan. Stat. § 60-203(a) (2023).) In separately numbered paragraphs, Kan. Stat. § 60-210(b) (2023), your petition should describe:
Make sure that your petition includes the information required by Kan. Stat. § 60-210(a) (2023), as well as the designation that it is a "Petition Pursuant to K.S.A. Chapter 60" as specified in Kan. Stat. § 60-207(c) (2023).
If you want the court to award you damages of more than $75,000, your petition should say only that you're asking for damages in excess of $75,000. In a case where you're asking for damages of $75,000 or less, you must specify the amount of damages you want. (Kan. Stat. § 60-208(a)(2) (2023).)
Once you've filed the petition, there's more work to be done. You'll need to have each defendant served with a copy of the petition and a summons—an order directing the defendant to appear in court and defend the case. Any defendant who isn't correctly and timely served can ask the court to be dismissed from the case.
If you're looking for legal advice that's tailored to your situation, talk to a personal injury lawyer in your area. You can also learn more about personal injury lawsuits, settlements, alternatives to resolving your case in court, and more:
- Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Determining Fault in a Personal Injury Case
- What Are Mediation and Arbitration?
- Tips for Getting the Best Personal Injury Settlement
- The Cost of Taking Your Personal Injury Case to Court
- The Deposition in a Personal Injury Case
- Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer or Handle Your Own Claim?
- Common Kinds of Personal Injury Cases