Get in Touch With a Kansas City Car Accident Lawyer
If you or someone close to you has been the victim of an automobile accident, contact an experienced Kansas City car accident attorney at Dickerson Oxton, LLC. At our law firm, our attorneys offer client-specific strategies to help make your case a success.
You can reach one of our knowledgeable Kansas City injury lawyers at (913) 428-8220 or you can fill out our free case evaluation form on our website and we will get back to you promptly.
The mangled steel and broken glass that litters accident scenes pale in comparison to the personal injury that victims of car accidents suffer. Many of these injuries last a lifetime. Tragically, the lives they cut short can never be replaced. This is why you need to contact an experienced attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve.
“Everyone involved exceeded the scope of what their responsibilities to clients should have been. Very open and honest, a degree of integrity exemplified by the firm’s actions. Thank you!”
– Leroy C
- Why hire a car accident attorney after a car accident?
- How do you determine who is at fault after a car accident?
- What is the liability laws in Missouri and Kansas?
- What is the statute of limitations in Missouri and Kansas?
- What should you do if you were involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist?
Why Hire a Car Accident Lawyer in Kansas City?
Many people say to themselves, “I don’t want to pay for a lawyer, I’ll just deal with the claim myself.” Why not just handle the insurance company directly? Well, without a lawyer, the insurance company may very well try to get you to take compensation that is not very fair to you. A lawyer can handle the claims process and take on the legwork of negotiating an insurance settlement, which can allow you to focus on recovering from your injuries.
Medical expenses and lost wages due to missed work can be easily calculated, but it’s more difficult to place a monetary value on the loss of quality of life. Injuries that cause permanent or long-term disabilities can place a strain on relationships and keep you from enjoying life. This is where hiring a lawyer can be crucial, because they will fight for your rights and just compensation not just for the injuries themselves, but for the pain they caused.
Determining Who Is At Fault
Under state law, Kansas City automobile accident fault is determined by the law of negligence. Drivers commuting on public and private roads have what is known as a “Duty of Care” to those sharing the road with them. This duty was created to ensure the safety of those around the driver and extends to pedestrians and cyclists alike. When a driver breaches this duty, thus acting negligently, then that driver is said to be “at fault” or the “causation of” a given accident. Negligence by definition is a conduct that a person engages in which is culpable in that it falls short of what a reasonable person would or would not do in a given situation.
Missouri and Kansas Liability Laws
In order for someone to be proven negligent in a car accident in which an injury occurs, five things would have to be true.
- Duty – The other person, a.k.a the defendant, owed a duty of care to you, the plaintiff. This is true every time a person drives a car. A duty is owed to all the other drivers that you drive as safely as possible.
- Breach of Duty – By failing to exercise reasonable care, the defendant put you in jeopardy. If the defendant was speeding, inattentive or under the influence, these would all qualify as actions which breached the duty of care.
- Cause in Fact – The actions of the defendant directly caused harm to you and/or your property, and would not have happened otherwise if the defendant wasn’t careless.
- Proximate Cause – This means that the potential harm caused by the plaintiff should have been foreseeable, which may be the most difficult aspect of negligence to prove, depending on the situation.
All four of these things would have to be true in a negligence claim stemming from an injury accident. Deciding how much they were at fault may be another issue.
Missouri operates under the comparative fault rule, which means that fault is determined as a percentage. For example, if you are awarded $10,000 in damages from an auto accident, but were found to be 25 percent at fault, you would only receive $7,500 of that. Things that may change your percentage of fault depend on whether you were wearing a seatbelt or whether you disobeyed any rules of the road. Kansas has a modified comparative fault rule, which means that if you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault, you won’t receive any compensation at all.
While many different behaviors and acts can constitute negligent driving, several stand out as the root for a majority of Kansas City automobile accidents. Such acts include:
- Traveling with excessive speed
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Running stop signs or ignoring other posted signage
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Texting while driving
As mentioned before, there are a number of varying situations that give rise to automobile accidents. If you feel that a negligent driver was at fault in your accident, contact an experienced Kansas City car accident attorney as soon as possible.
The Statute of Limitations in Kansas and Missouri
In Kansas, the statute of limitations to file an injury claim is two years. In Missouri, it’s five years. In both states, the clock starts from when the incident first occurred that caused the injury or damage, as opposed to when the injury was discovered. These limitations only apply to the deadline for filing a case in court; the deadlines and process for filing an insurance claim may very well be different.
The statute of limitation laws are why it’s crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident. Because neither state operates under the discovery rule, it doesn’t matter when an injury is discovered. However, if you do not go to a doctor as soon as possible, the defendant’s insurance may try to deny compensation by saying that your injuries must not have been bad enough to require extensive care.
Car Accident Statistics in Kansas and Missouri (2015)
In 2015, more than 35,000 people were killed in auto accidents across the country, the most since 2008 and a 4.5 percent increase over 2014. While car accident fatalities are on the rise overall, it varies at the state level. For instance, Kansas saw 355 fatalities in 2015, a 7.8 percent decrease from 2014. Meanwhile, Missouri saw 869 fatalities for a 13.4 percent increase over 2014. Corresponding with the uptick in 2015, Missouri’s motor vehicle fatality rate has historically hovered slightly above the national average.
Car Accident Fatalities
In recent years, there has been a sizable reduction in DUI accidents, along with an increase in safety belt usage, but the total number of fatal and injury accidents have gone up. One possible culprit of this is distracted driving, much of which is related to increased cell phone use.
In Kansas alone, driver inattention was the number one cause of accidents, at 20.7 percent. In Missouri, they caused 27 percent. Texting and driving is the most dangerous form of this, because it takes your mind, hands and eyes off the road. In fact, your eyes are off the road for an average of five seconds when using your phone while driving; if you are traveling 55 mph, that’s enough time to travel the length of an entire football field.
Contrary to popular belief, new drivers (those aged 14-19) were not the most common culprit of distracted driving. In Kansas, drivers aged 20-24 were responsible for roughly 25 percent of injury accidents involving cell phone use. More than one-third of drivers have admitted to using a cell phone while driving. As more young drivers are getting their license and cell phone use is continually rising, many efforts are being made to curb cell phone use.
Young drivers are also much more likely to be behind the wheel in accidents involving excessive speed – both fatal and non-fatal crashes. In Kansas, over 55 percent of speed related crashes were attributed to drivers between the age of 15 and 29.