Here’s an all-too common scenario we see at our Kansas City injury law firm.
Our clients are injured in an accident, and they thinks it’s clear who was at-fault. They leave the accident scene to get medical care. As they pursue medical treatment and recovery, days, weeks and sometimes months pass before they even think about contacting a lawyer. They may even think they can handle this claim alone because the accident was so clearly the fault of the other party – of course, they’ll pay!
Then, the bad news. Their claim was denied. The other party is denying fault. They may have changed their version of what happened - they may flat-out lie about it. The insurance company buys into their story and refuses to pay a dime.
It’s important to understand why the insurance company believes they have legal grounds to deny your claim. Their denial is based on the law of comparative fault or negligence where the accident occurred. The laws of comparative fault or negligence come into play when multiple parties may be at fault for causing an accident.
Comparative Negligence in Missouri & Kansas
Our firm routinely handles accident and injury cases in Missouri and Kansas. Here’s a brief summary of how these states handle the issue of comparative fault.
Missouri: Missouri is considered a “pure” comparative system. This means that your recovery for your injuries will be reduced by the percentage that you are found liable. It is a “pure” system because this rule applies no matter how much you were at fault. For instance, suppose you were injured in a slip and fall accident in Missouri and had damages of $100,000. If the jury finds you were 20% at fault, your recovery would be reduced accordingly to $80,000. If you were 90% at fault, then you may only recover $10,000.
Kansas: Kansas is considered a “modified” comparative fault state. If you are injured in Kansas and are less than 50% at fault, your recovery would be reduced similarly as in Missouri. So, in the first example, if you were 20% at fault, you would still be able to recover $80,000. However, Kansas law is harsher for plaintiffs if they are 50% at fault or greater. If you are 50% or more at fault, your injury claim is barred and you recover nothing, regardless of your injuries.
What to Do If the Other Party Blames You for the Accident
The most important thing to do after an accident is to get yourself in a safe place and seek medical treatment for any injuries. However, the next best thing you can do is to document the accident scene as much as possible. This includes photographs and video of the accident scene, the injuries, and damages caused. If your accident was caused by a dangerous property condition, you need to photograph that and preserve any evidence relating to it. In addition, you should write down the contact information for any witnesses and any statements from them or other parties involved. We consider documenting and photographing the accident to be one of the top 10 things you can do to maximize your recovery in an injury case.
It’s always beneficial to have an accident report made of the event. If it is a car, truck or motorcycle crash, the police should be called to secure the scene and create a report. This report will be helpful in establishing what happened, and it may even identify who caused the accident. If the accident occurred on the property of a business or retail establishment, their own security or personnel may create a report of what happened.
Regardless, it is critical that this report is complete and accurate in detailing the event. If you receive a copy of the report and it contains inaccuracies, you should have them corrected as soon as possible.
Lastly, if you are injured in an accident and fault is disputed, you really should consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our Kansas City personal injury lawyer has handled this sort of situation many times and can help gather and preserve evidence, interview witnesses and obtain experts to prove your case to the adjuster and a jury, if necessary.
A lawsuit is not always needed in a personal injury case. However, in cases with disputed fault or liability, it helps to have an experienced advocate in your corner.
Call Our Kansas City Injury Lawyer
Our Kansas City injury lawyer is licensed in Kansas and Missouri and is ready to assist you. Call us today for a free consultation at 816-203-0143. If you would like more information about Kansas and Missouri accident or personal injury claims, download a FREE copy of our book, Crash Course, 9 Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Injury Claim. Whatever you do, don’t wait. Strict deadlines apply to your case, so it’s critical to pursue your claim as soon as possible.