What to Do as an Injured Passenger
Dec. 29, 2022
Statistics from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) indicate there were 52,469 total traffic crashes statewide in 2020. The moments after a car crash can be confusing to sort through. Oftentimes, the accident victims will be uncertain about the next steps to take or how to seek damages for their injuries.
Essentially, what you do – or fail to do – can have a significant impact on the outcome of your claims. An experienced Kansas personal injury attorney can enlighten you about what you need to do as an injured passenger after a traffic collision.
The attorneys at Grover Law Firm, LLC are dedicated to offering compassionate representation and skilled legal guidance to accident victims in their injury claims. As your legal counsel, they can investigate the surrounding facts of your unique situation and enlighten you about your possible legal options to seek damages.
In addition, Attorney Mark Grover and his trusted legal team will fight vigorously for your rights and help pursue fair financial compensation for your injuries and other potential damages. The firm is proud to serve clients across Overland Park, Kansas, and throughout Kansas and Missouri, including Shawnee, Independence, Olathe, Liberty, and Kansas City.
Determining Fault in Kansas
Kansas is a no-fault auto insurance state. Under Kansas's no-fault system, a person involved in an accident will turn to their own insurance policy – personal injury protection (PIP) coverage – to recover medical costs, lost income, and other accident-related financial losses, regardless of the at-fault party. Also, the driver will cover the medical expenses accumulated by the injured passenger up to their coverage limit.
Filing a Claim in Kansas
As previously mentioned, injured passengers will turn to their driver's insurance coverage to pursue available compensation under the PIP policy. However, you may be able to opt out of the no-fault PIP coverage and file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party if:
You have exceeded your PIP coverage limit for your medical expenses, and
You suffered a serious injury, such as a permanent injury, permanent disfigurement, compound fracture, or permanent loss of body function.
A skilled lawyer can enlighten you about your possible options to recover damages and determine the best way to proceed with your personal injury claims.
Determining Fault in Missouri
Missouri is an at-fault auto accident state. Under the state's at-fault system, the driver who caused the accident (the at-fault party) will hold financial liability for medical expenses, property damages, and other accident-related losses suffered by the injured passengers and other accident victims.
In order to prove fault and seek damages for your injuries, you must show the following elements:
Duty – The defendant or at-fault party owed you a legal duty of care.
Breach – The at-fault party breached their expected duty of care.
Causation – The negligent or wrongful actions of the at-fault party caused your injuries.
Damages – You suffered actual harm, bodily injuries, or losses from the accident.
Filing a Claim in Missouri
To pursue damages as an injured passenger in Missouri, you can:
File a claim with your own insurance carrier.
File a third-party claim against the insurance provider of the at-fault party or the vehicle owner.
File a third-party claim against the insurer of the opposing driver or vehicle owner in the crash.
File a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault party.
An experienced car accident attorney can identify the at-fault party, help establish liability, and determine the amount of compensation you may recover.
In most cases, injured passengers may be entitled to recover full compensation for their injuries. However, there are some scenarios where the incident might have occurred as a result of a safety issue from the careless or negligent conduct of the passenger. For instance:
The passenger tried taking control of the vehicle.
The passenger pushed the gas pedals or brake.
The passenger gave the driver liquor or controlled substances prior to driving.
The passenger obstructed the driver's view.
The passenger encouraged the driver to drive aggressively or recklessly.
The passenger damaged the car.
The passenger caused a distraction by showing the driver something while driving.
In the event that the passenger's actions resulted in or contributed to the traffic accident, this would affect the amount of compensation that they may recover.
Comparative Fault Rule in Kansas
In addition, Kansas follows the modified comparative fault rule, with a 50% bar. Under the system, a claimant may pursue damages if they were partially (less than 50%) responsible for the accident or injury. However, their compensation amount will be reduced by their fault percentage.
Also, a plaintiff will be completely barred from seeking compensation if they were equally or mostly (50% or more) at fault for the accident or injury.
Comparative Fault Rule in Missouri
Conversely, Missouri operates using the "pure comparative fault" rule. According to the principle, a plaintiff's involvement in an auto accident doesn't prevent them from seeking damages for their injuries. However, the amount of compensation that may be recovered will be reduced by their degree of fault.
Hence, you may still be allowed to recover damages in Missouri even if you were up to 99% responsible for the accident or your injuries.
Get the Protection You Deserve
Being injured in an accident as a passenger can be emotional and overwhelming. Regardless, you don't have to face the pain and financial challenges all by yourself. Attorney Mark Grover and his trusted lawyers at Grover Law Firm, LLC have devoted their careers to handling personal injury cases and protecting the legal rights of accident victims and their loved ones.
Contact Grover Law Firm, LLC today to schedule a simple case evaluation with trusted auto accident lawyers. The firm is proud to serve clients across Overland Park, Kansas, and throughout Kansas and Missouri, including Shawnee, Independence, Olathe, Liberty, and Kansas City.