An integral part of any Kansas car accident injury claim is determining who is at fault. In states like Kansas, if a driver is deemed to be 51-percent or more at fault for an accident, he is considered liable. Insurance companies use a variety of methods to apportion blame for an accident. Reviewing police reports, eye witness accounts, assessing damage patterns, and gathering evidence from the scene of the car accident are all accepted methods for determining fault.
Kansas is a modified no fault state which simply means this: if you have medical expenses of two thousand dollars (or a fracture of a weight bearing bone, or substantial scarring or a permanent injury, or 1 of 3 more similar exceptions) you meet the threshold under Kansas car accident injury law to make a claim for pain and suffering against the at fault driver or drivers. For this reason, insurance companies often debate which driver is actually at fault for an accident. Ideally, the insurance companies will reach an agreement on their own and you will receive just compensation for your injuries.
The first step of determining liability is a negligence analysis. In order to be deemed negligent, a driver must meet 4 criteria: driver’s duty, breach, causation, and damage. Without meeting these 4 criteria, a driver cannot be deemed negligent and liable.
Every time you get behind the wheel of a car and turn the key, you have a responsibility to do your “driver’s duty” A driver’s duty comprises the duties under law the every driver must perform. Normally, these duties are lookout, avoidance, and adhering to the rules of the road. The duties are relatively self-explanatory. You must be vigilant while driving. That means no distracted driving. You must try to avoid an accident. That means practicing defensive driving and doing all in your power to avoid a crash. Obey the rules of the road means following all traffic laws. If you are found to have violated a traffic law, a certain percentage of fault will be attributed to you.
This is simply the act of determining that one or more driver’s did not perform their driver’s duty. If the driver can be shown to have done his driver’s duty, he cannot be found at fault for an accident.
What if I told you that someone could be black out drunk, be involved in an accident, and be found not at fault? You would probably say I was crazy, but it is true. Determining fault requires something called causation. Causation involves drawing a direct line between the breach of duty and the damages caused by an accident. To demonstrate this, let’s use the previous example. A man has parked his car off the road at the edge of a driveway. He goes into the house and has a few too many. He goes out to his car, but, rightly, decides not to drive home. He falls asleep in the front seat. Later that night, someone hits his parked car. The man’s level of intoxication had nothing to do with the accident. He cannot be held at fault.
The final step to determining liability is damages. There can be no liability without damages. Damages can be bodily injury or property damage. They can also include pain and suffering; however, it is very difficult to prove pain and suffering without some level of tangible damage.
Now that you understand how insurance companies determine negligence and liability, how does your case measure up? Was the other driver negligent? Is he liable for damages? Were your car accident and resulting injuries the result of another driver’s negligence? If you answered yes to these questions, I invite you to take advantage of our free case evaluation service as well as our claims process page. If you feel like you would like to proceed further, please contact me or one of the attorneys in my firm. We would love to help.