While one person is clearly to blame in some car accidents—for example, when a driver runs a red light or crosses into oncoming traffic while texting—in many other crashes, two or more drivers share some amount of blame for the crash. The victim of an accident in which the other driver is 100 percent at fault is clearly entitled to full compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, when multiple parties share blame, deciding who gets what in a settlement becomes complicated. Both Kansas and Missouri follow versions of comparative fault laws, which means you may be able to recover some compensation even if you are partially to blame.
The Amount of Each Party’s Blame Is the Key to Compensation
Insurance adjusters will look at several factors in order to determine how much each party was to blame in a car accident. The report submitted by responding police officers will be the most heavily weighted factor, but victim and witness statements could also be considered, along with photos of the scene and any admissions of fault from the scene of the accident. Once each party is assigned a percentage of fault, what happens next depends on whether you live in Kansas or Missouri, as the two states follow different rules regarding comparative fault.
Missouri Is a “Pure” Comparative Fault State
Missouri follows the rule of pure comparative fault. In a pure comparative fault state, the amount awarded to an injured party by the other party’s insurance company will be reduced by the percentage of fault the victim is assigned. For example, if Driver A stops suddenly to avoid hitting an obstacle and is rear-ended by Driver B, Driver B may be found to be primarily at fault for following too closely, but Driver A may be assigned some degree of blame for stopping suddenly. If Driver A proves damages of $100,000, but is assigned 40 percent of the blame, he can only recover $60,000. In Missouri, there is no cutoff point at which an injured victim will not get any compensation. So even Driver A is found to be 60 percent at fault, he may still recover $40,000 in damages. It’s a different story in Kansas.
Injured Victims in Kansas Face More Difficulty
Kansas follows “modified” comparative fault guidelines. In Kansas, this means that if the plaintiff is found to be 50 percent at fault or more, he can recover nothing from the defendant’s insurance company. In the example given above, if the plaintiff is 40 percent, or even 49 percent at fault, he can still be awarded compensation ($60,000 or $51,000, respectively). But, if he is found to be 50 percent at fault or more, he will receive nothing. This places more of a burden on the victim than the comparative fault laws in Missouri.
In Either State, You Will Need an Attorney
Clearly, no matter which state you live in, the determination of fault will be vitally important to your claim. If you disagree with the fault determination made by the insurance company, you can appeal their decision, but you will need strong evidence in order to overturn their decision. The experienced car accident attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury know what evidence will convince an adjuster in an appeal. In fact, if you secure our representation immediately following the accident, you may avoid the need for an appeal altogether. We will protect your claim by gathering the following:
- An accurate police report
- Witness statements
- Depositions from involved parties
- Photographs of the scene, damage to vehicles, and injuries
- Medical records
- Accident re-creation, if needed
Insurance companies will always offer the lowest possible settlement and, without someone in your corner fighting for you, you may not be able to get the compensation you truly deserve. Call us now for a free consultation and to start learning more about your rights.