Answers to Your Personal Injury, Workers Compensation, and Medical Malpractice Legal Questions
Your Questions Answered - Your Legal Options Explained
At KCAIA we know that it is essential for every injury victim to get good information about how to pursue their accident claim. Following an accident that causes serious injury to you or a loved one, there are often many unanswered questions.
Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions we get from new clients. You can browse by category using the dropdown menu. Alternatively, for a quicker, more customized search, try typing your question into the search bar above.
Don't see what you are looking for? If you don't find the answers you need, contact us today for answers to your specific questions. Remember, the consultation is FREE and there is no obligation.
- Page 1
What's the statute of limitations to file my motorcycle accident lawsuit in Kansas or Missouri?
If you're injured in a motorcycle accident in Kansas or Missouri caused by a negligent driver, you could suffer catastrophic injuries that prevent you from working and affect your quality of life.
Even less severe injuries might require months off work for your recovery and cost tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Receiving full compensation for your injuries is essential. One critical step to ensure this is to file your lawsuit within the statutes of limitation.
The statute of limitations is the timeframe you have to file a civil lawsuit in your motorcycle accident case. If you fail to file a suit within this time period, the judge will most likely dismiss it. Each state has different guidelines for statute of limitations, and you must follow the law in the state where your collision occurred.
Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accidents in MO or KS
In Missouri, the statute of limitations depends on whether the accident caused someone’s injuries or death. Here are the rules you must follow:
- The deadline is five years from the date of your accident if you suffered injuries in the crash.
- The deadline is three years from the date of a victim’s death if a loved one died as a result of a motorcycle accident.
You have a much shorter time to file your lawsuit in Kansas. Under the state's statute of limitation, you must do so within these time periods:
- Two years from the date of the accident for personal injuries
- Two years from the date of death if a family died in a motorcycle wreck
Contact Us Right Away for Help With Your Claim
Even though you may have plenty of time to file your lawsuit following a motorcycle collision, it's never a good idea to wait. Enlisting the expertise of a skilled motorcycle accident attorney right away prevents case challenges such as lost evidence, witnesses who can't recall details or move away, and other mistakes.
Our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience fighting for the rights of motorcycle accident victims in Kansas and Missouri. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office today at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.
What are common defenses raised in truck accident cases?
There are many. If you were injured in a commercial vehicle crash in Kansas or Missouri, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries from the negligent trucker and/or his fleet transportation company.
Unfortunately, it may not be easy to settle your claim with the liable party's insurance company for what you deserve—even if you believe that you have an open and shut case for fault. The carrier will most likely raise defenses to your claim in an effort to reduce or deny it.
Insurance Companies Defenses Against Truck Claims
The specific defenses an insurance company may raise in your case depends on the facts of your crash and injuries.
However, it's important to understand common defenses that may be used in your case so you can anticipate them and collect the evidence you need to refute the insurance company’s arguments.
This can make your claim stronger and enable you to settle it faster.
Large truck accident defenses often include:
If an insurance company cannot claim you were the at-fault driver in your accident, it may argue you were partially to blame in an effort to reduce your claim. Both Kansas and Missouri have comparative fault laws which limit victims' rights to compensation if they were partially at fault in causing a collision. Under Missouri’s comparative fault guidelines, your compensation is reduced by your percentage of fault in causing the crash. For example, if you were 30 percent negligent, you would only be entitled to 70 percent of the total potential compensation. Kansas follows a modified comparative negligence doctrine that completely bars you from receiving any damages if you're found to be 50 percent or more to blame for your truck accident.
Another common defense an insurance carrier may use is to point the finger at another party. It may argue another driver involved in the collision or another entity, such as the shipper or truck maintenance facility, was responsible for causing your wreck.
Failure To Mitigate Damages.
You have a duty under the law to mitigate or reduce your damages. The insurance company could argue that you caused injuries to worsen by not seeking prompt medical care, or you received excessive or unnecessary medical treatments.
Statute Of Limitations.
The statute of limitations is the deadline to file your lawsuit against the negligent trucker and/or trucking company. If this time period expires, the insurance carrier would use this to bar your claim.
In Missouri, the statute of limitations is five years from the date of the accident for personal injuries; and three years from the date of death if a loved one died as a result of the accident. In Kansas, you must file your complaint for personal injuries within two years of the date of the wreck; and two years from the date of death of a family member due to crash-related injuries.
Our experienced truck accident attorneys can help you build a strong claim and help you to defeat defenses insurance companies raise to try to deny or reduce your claim. Contact us online or call our Kansas City metro office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.
What are some of the factors that increase the risks of delivery truck accidents?
Because many people are taking advantage of the ease of online shopping, the number of packages and other goods being delivered to homes and businesses is increasing dramatically.
Fed Ex, United Parcel Service (UPS), and furniture and big box stores are just a few of the delivery trucks seen regularly on roads and highways in Kansas and Missouri. Unlike other commercial truck accidents, these collisions can occur right in your own neighborhood. Unfortunately, motorists, pedestrians, and bicycle riders injured in these wrecks can suffer catastrophic injuries.
Causes of Delivery Truck Collisions
Delivery truck drivers are under constant pressure to quickly transport packages by the end of the work day. Some factors that increase the likelihood a driver will cause a truck accident include:
Operating a delivery truck or other commercial vehicles takes special skills, training, and licensing. When shipping companies fail to properly train their employees, there's a risk of driving errors caused by a lack of knowledge.
Backing Up and Stopping
Delivery truck drivers frequently must search for a destination address and when they find it, they can stop suddenly without notice or back up without checking for vehicles and people behind them.
Like many commercial operators, those on frequent delivery routes often drive long hours without a break. This can affect their reaction times, judgment, and other abilities.
Lack of Maintenance
Delivery companies and drivers have a duty to regularly inspect and maintain their trucks. When they fail to do so, a component, such as the tires, brakes, or tires, could malfunction and cause the driver to lose control.
Improper Loading or Securing of Load
If a truck is improperly loaded or overloaded, it can lead to a rollover accident, brake or tire failure, or a driver's loss of control. Unsecured loads can also make controlling a vehicle difficult, and can cause a multi-vehicle crash if the cargo shifts during transport.
Were you or a loved one injured in a delivery truck accident? Our experienced truck accident attorneys are here to fight for the compensation you deserve. Act now. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule a free consultation.
What are some of the top causes of fatal truck accidents?
Many fatalities in large truck accidents are the result of differences in size and weight between a commercial truck or bus and a passenger vehicle.
The height of most trucks is much higher than smaller vehicles, which can slip right underneath them. Trucks can weigh up to 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle, so the sheer force of impact can be devastating. These are just a couple reasons for fatalities in truck collisions.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 3,989 people were killed in truck crashes in 2016, and 82 percent of the victims were passenger vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians. If you lost a loved one in an accident caused by a negligent trucker, you may be entitled to compensation from him or her, as well as the fleet transportation company, in a wrongful death action.
Main Reasons for Fatalities in Truck Accidents
Tragic truck wrecks include head-on collisions, jackknife truck accidents, rollover accidents, and underride crashes. While these types of wrecks are similar to incidents between passenger vehicles, the size and weight of commercial vehicles often result in fatal situations.
Other Contributing Factors To Truck Accidents
One of the primary causes of accidents, federal regulations nevertheless permit truck operators to drive up to 11 hours with only a short break. Additionally, some truckers may be pressured to violate hours of service mandates if delivery deadlines need to be met. Trucker fatigue can impair driving ability similar to intoxication: vision, judgement, reaction time, and ability to gauge distance are all compromised.
When a trucker is texting or reading a text, he can travel the distance of a football field in a matter of seconds when his eyes and mind aren't on the road. Talking on a phone, eating and drinking, and reading a GPS are other distracted driving behaviors that lead to fatal wrecks.
Loaded semi-trailers often require up to 40 percent longer distance to come to stop than passenger vehicles. Speeding decreases the ability to brake safely.
Lack of Maintenance
When trucking companies fail to maintain and repair their commercial fleets, key vehicle components, such as brakes, steering, or tires, can fail and cause the operator to lose control.
Losing a loved one due to the negligence of a trucker and transportation company can change your life forever. Our experienced truck accident attorneys are here to fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation today.
Is a car accident settlement taxable?
In general, car accident settlements are not taxed by IRS. This is because most people receive their proceeds in a lump sum payment that doesn't delineate what it's for.
However, there are circumstances when you could owe income taxes on a settlement or jury award.
When Could You Owe Taxes on Your Settlement or Judgment?
When a negligent driver causes your car accident, you're entitled to compensation for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. IRS regulations provide that you won't owe taxes on damages received in a settlement or award if they're to compensate you for personal physical injuries or illness. When you receive a lump sum settlement that doesn't itemize the damages, it will most likely be treated as compensation for physical injuries and not taxed by IRS.
Even if the amount is itemized in your settlement or jury award, some of it won't be taxable. For example, you won't owe taxes on the amounts paid to reimburse you for medical bills or property damage.
However, it can be complicated if you receive compensation for other types of damages. Here's what you should know:
- Lost wages. This portion of your settlement will most likely be taxed just like income, similar to how taxes are deducted from your paycheck when you're working.
- Pain and suffering. If you receive pain and suffering compensation due to your physical injuries, it shouldn't be taxable. However, if you suffered psychological injuries, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD, they're not considered physical injuries. If itemized as such in your settlement, these damages could be considered taxable.
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded to punish the negligent party for especially egregious actions. This type of compensation is rare, but if you receive it, you would owe taxes on it.
You never want to settle an auto collision claim without first consulting with an experienced car accident attorney to ensure you receive rightful compensation. To have your questions answered and learn how our legal team can help, contact us online or call our Kansas City office today at 817.471.5111 to schedule your free initial consultation.
Will my personal injury have to go to court or trial?
It's unlikely your car accident or other personal injury case would go to a jury trial. Over 90 percent of these cases settle before trial. However, you shouldn't count on this.
It's essential that your injury claim be investigated, handled, and prepared as if it were going to court. If there are holes and weaknesses in your case, or an insurance company adjuster doesn't believe you're fully prepared to go to trial, it's unlikely he or she will offer you a fair settlement offer.
Why Insurance Companies Often Settle Personal Injury Cases
Both accident victims and insurance companies can benefit from settling a claim out of court. Some of the reasons that insurance companies will ultimately settle a case include:
- Juries are unpredictable, no matter how strong a party’s claim or defense is.
- The insurance company will incur more legal fees if a case goes to trial.
- When a case goes to trial rather than settles, the insurance carrier loses control of the outcome.
- Trials are public and can lead to more claims. Settlements can remain private between a victim and the insurance company.
Reasons it can be beneficial for an accident victim to settle a claim are similar:
- There's no guarantee a jury will award more than a settlement offer—assuming the offer is fair.
- The process of going to trial is lengthy.
- It could cost more in attorney fees, expert witness fees, and other expenses if a case goes to trial.
- A victim can receive his compensation more quickly if a case is settled.
When Could a Jury Trial Be Necessary?
While most claims settle out of court, this doesn't mean a lawsuit won't need to be filed if the carrier is completely unreasonable, or the statute of limitations to file it will soon expire. Many of these cases are settled during the litigation process before the date set for a jury trial.
However, when an insurance provider refuses to offer a reasonable settlement or denies a claim, a victim may have to take his case to trial.
Even when you believe you may settle your claim quickly, you need the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident. He will help you avoid common mistakes many victims make which irreparably hurt their claims, and can collect the evidence you need to prove the other party’s negligence before it's lost or destroyed.
At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we have decades of experience fighting for the rights of victims of car accident and other personal injury cases. To learn how we can assist you, start an online chat today and schedule your free consultation.
Can I sue for punitive damages if I was injured in an accident with a drunk driver?
Yes, if you're injured by a drunk driver, you can recover punitive damages in both Missouri and Kansas, in addition to collecting for your actual injuries and damages incurred.
The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the drunk driver for his grossly negligent behaviors and not to compensate you. While the reason behind these damages is the same in both states, the laws that govern your right to receive this type of compensation are different.
Your Right to Punitive Damages in Missouri
In Missouri, you must prove the negligent motorist acted with a conscious disregard or complete indifference to your wellbeing and safety. Your burden of proof is greater when requesting punitive damages than for your negligence claim. The judge decides whether you meet this requirement and if so, the jury considers awarding punitive damages.
There used to be a cap on the amount of punitive damages awarded, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled the provision was unconstitutional. Without this cap, a jury can consider the negligent party’s net worth in reaching its verdict. However, half of what is awarded is paid to the State of Missouri.
Punitive Damages in Drunk Driving Cases in Kansas
To be entitled to punitive damages in Kansas, you need to show the other driver’s conduct was wanton, malicious, willful, or fraudulent. Like Missouri, your standard of proof is greater. You need to file a motion to amend your original complaint to ask for punitive damages. The judge decides if there is sufficient evidence for the jury to award them.
While the jury decides your right to punitive damages, the judge determines the amount you should receive at a separate hearing. He or she considers these factors for his decision:
- Likelihood at the time of the crash that you would be seriously harmed.
- How aware the drunk driver was of the danger to you.
- Profitability of his actions.
- How long the inebriated motorist engaged in his wrongful actions and whether he concealed them.
- His attitude when your accident occurred.
- His financial condition.
- Deterrent effect of damages and other punishments on the drunk driver.
There's a cap on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded, which is complicated to calculate.
This amount can be no more than the lessor of:
- Drunk driver’s annual gross income, based on the highest gross income earned for any of the last five years prior to the accident
- Five million dollars
Punitive damages aren't commonly awarded in car accident cases. However, a drunk driving victim is more likely to receive them due to the catastrophic nature of these accidents and the grossly negligent actions of the intoxicated motorist.
Let Us Help You
It's unlikely that you would receive punitive damages in your case without the assistance of an experienced drunk driving attorney who understands the complexities of these claims and the high standards of proof necessary. To discuss your right to these damages and other compensation for your injuries, contact our office to schedule your free consultation with our skilled legal team.
Can I sue the drunk driver who caused my injuries in an accident if I was a passenger in his car?
Maybe. As an injured passenger in the vehicle of a drunk driver, you certainly deserve to cover the costs of your medical care and other damages. However, his insurance company may argue that you were partially at fault because you willingly got into a motor vehicle with somebody who was intoxicated.
What Is the Drunk Driver’s Duty to You as a Passenger?
Every motorist is accountable for taking reasonable care to drive safely to not cause harm to you as a passenger as well as to pedestrians and other motorists. If he drove while intoxicated and this was the cause of your injuries, he would be considered negligent and thus, responsible for compensating you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
This is true even when you voluntarily got into the car.
How Comparative Negligence Could Affect Your Claim for Compensation
Although the intoxicated driver could face liability for the crash, you may also be found partially at fault for getting into the vehicle. Under comparative negligence laws in Kansas and Missouri, this could result in you receiving less than you would otherwise be entitled to. Here’s how comparative negligence works in both states:
- Kansas follows a modified comparative negligence rule. It provides that you would be barred from receiving any money if you were 50 percent or more at fault in causing the crash—unlikely since the intoxicated driver would be primarily negligent. If you were less than 50 percent to blame, you would still be entitled to compensation, but it would be reduced by your percentage of fault.
- Missouri is a pure comparative negligence state. Under this rule, you would be entitled to compensation no matter how much you were to blame for your injuries. However, as in Kansas, the amount you receive would be reduced by your level of negligence.
Your share of negligence depends on the facts in your case. Some of these factors may include:
- Whether you were aware of the driver’s intoxication
- Whether you purchased any of the alcohol consumed
- Whether you encouraged the person to continue to drink and then drive
To learn more about your rights after a drunk driving accident in Kansas or Missouri, take advantage of our free initial consultation. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced drunk driving accident attorneys.
What is GAP insurance, and how will it help me if my car is totaled in an accident?
When individuals purchase collision coverage for their vehicles, they're often under the mistaken impression that it fully covers their vehicles if totaled in an accident.
However, this isn't necessarily true, especially if you financed your car purchase—which the majority of people do. To protect yourself more fully, you may want to purchase optional GAP insurance, which stands for Guaranteed Auto Protection.
Why You May Need GAP Insurance
Whenever you purchase a vehicle and drive it off the lot, it depreciates rather than appreciates in value.
If your car is totaled in a crash and you have collision insurance, your carrier will pay you the actual cash value of your vehicle.
This is what the negligent driver’s insurance company would pay, too—most likely less than the purchase price, and less than what you owe on your auto loan. The insurance company would issue payment for the car’s value to the lender that financed your loan.
However, you still owe a balance on your car loan, and have no money for a new vehicle. This is where GAP insurance can help. It pays the difference between what the insurance company compensates you for the vehicle's value and what you owe on the auto loan.
You should consider purchasing this additional coverage in these situations:
- You paid less than $2,000 in a down payment when purchasing the vehicle.
- You're leasing a vehicle.
- You financed a vehicle loan over a long period of time.
If you're leasing a vehicle, lease GAP insurance is a variation of traditional GAP insurance that pays the difference between what you owe under the agreement and the vehicle’s actual cash value.
You can often purchase GAP policies from your auto insurance carrier.
Were you or a loved one involved in a car accident? Our experienced car accident attorneys are ready to answer your questions and pursue your claim for compensation. To get started, contact us online or call our office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.
Who can I sue for my drunk driving accident in Missouri or Kansas?
Because you're more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries or death if a drunk driver causes your accident, it's vital to your recovery that you receive all of the compensation you deserve—for both past and future damages.
One way to do this is by investigating the liability of all possible parties that contributed to the incident. However, who could be liable in your drunk driving case is different if your collision happened in Kansas or Missouri.
Possible Responsible Parties in Your Kansas and Missouri Drunk Driving Case
In many states, a drunk driving victim has more potential liable parties to pursue claims against than in a traditional crash case.
Here are the entities that may be responsible in a drunk driving accident in Missouri and Kansas:
- Driver. In both Kansas and Missouri, the drunk driver who caused your crash could be responsible for compensating for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Bars and restaurants. Most states enacted dram shop laws that hold the individual or establishment who supplied the alcohol to the drunk driver responsible for injury compensation. In Missouri, owners of bars, taverns, and restaurants can face liability for serving alcohol to a visibly-intoxicated person, or any minor under 18. Kansas is one of the few states that doesn't have a dram shop law.
- Social hosts. Social host laws stipulate that people who serve alcohol at their residences to a minor under 18, or to a person who is obviously intoxicated, can be sued by a victim of a drunk driving accident. Neither Missouri nor Kansas has a social host law. However, in Missouri, a social host who serves alcohol to a minor can face criminal charges with penalties of up to one year in jail.
Any car accident can be traumatic, but an alcohol-related crash resulting in serious injuries or death is especially difficult to endure. Our experienced car accident attorneys are here to help you pursue claims for compensation against the negligent driver and any other responsible parties. To get your questions answered and learn about your legal options, start an online chat to schedule your free consultation.