Comparative Negligence in Kansas

Under Kansas’ comparative negligence law, you can recover damages from a car accident as long as you aren’t found to be more than 49% at fault for the accident.
Written by Samuel Todd
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Kansas is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that you can recover damages from an accident as long as you aren’t more than 49% at fault.
Let’s imagine a scenario: you’re driving through an intersection, going a little over the speed limit. Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you notice another car speeding through the intersection (running a red light!). You hit the brakes, but can’t quite stop in time, so you skid into the side of their car. So, who’s at fault?
The legal doctrine of comparative negligence can help us solve this problem. Comparative negligence allows blame to be shared—so you’re partially at fault for speeding and the other driver is partially at fault for running the red.
Each state’s law is a little bit different, so it’s good to become familiar with your state’s law. That’s why
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What is comparative negligence?

Essentially, comparative negligence is a legal concept that allows multiple parties to share responsibility. When it comes to car accidents, it means that multiple drivers can share the blame.
If you were found to be 20% at fault for speeding and the other driver was 80% at fault for running a red, you could recover 80% of your own damages (100% minus your 20% share of fault). 
Remember, comparative negligence applies to both personal injury lawsuits and insurance claims. So, if you sue the driver who ran into you, a judge or jury will decide who’s at fault and award damages accordingly. If you file an insurance claim, the insurer will use comparative negligence to decide how much money they’re on the hook for. 

Comparative negligence vs. contributory negligence

The three major types of comparative negligence are pure comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence, and contributory negligence. Here are the basics of each one:
  • Pure comparative negligence: Both injured parties can collect damages according to their share of the blame, no matter how big or small. So, you could recover damages whether you’re 10% at fault or 90% at fault.
  • Modified comparative negligence: An injured party can collect damages as long as they aren’t more than 49% (in some states, more than 50%) to blame for the accident.
  • Contributory negligence: An injured party can’t recover damages if they have any share of the blame. This is an outdated doctrine, only used in a few states, because of its unjust outcomes. Just think, if someone rear-ended you at 100 mph on the highway, you might not be able to recover because you forgot to use your blinker!
Only 12 states recognize pure comparative negligence, and only 5 states recognize pure contributory negligence. 

What is Kansas’ comparative negligence law?

Under Kansas law, you can recover damages as long as you weren’t more than 49% at fault. Kansas is one of 33 states that uses modified comparative negligence.
  • If you were 20% at fault for an accident, you could recover 80% of the damages to you and your vehicle.
  • If you were 50% or more at fault for an accident, though, you couldn’t recover anything.

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties?

If there are more than two drivers in the accident, everybody will split the blame. Here’s the important thing to know: if you were in an accident with multiple drivers, you’ll be able to file an insurance claim with any or all of their insurance companies.
If one of the drivers doesn’t have enough money to pay their share, the other drivers will have to cover for them so that you can get a full recovery. 

How is fault decided in a comparative negligence case?

To ensure that each person gets the recovery they deserve, insurance companies will examine all available evidence and review police reports.
Though handing out blame for car accidents, especially those with multiple drivers, can be tricky, you can help the process. If you’re near an accident and can safely approach the people involved, do the following things:
  • Take note of the types of vehicles involved (make, model, etc.)
  • Take note of the weather conditions and time of day
  • Collect witness reports (or, if you saw the accident, tell an authority what you saw)
  • Take pictures of the damage (be sure to photograph the vehicles in their entirety—it can be easy to miss damage at first glance!)
When you can, be sure to call the police and report the accident. Police reports can be pivotal when a judge, jury, or insurance company is trying to decide who’s at fault.

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence?

If you were in a car accident in Kansas, you can file an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurer.
If you were found to be 20% at fault for speeding and the other driver was 80% at fault for
running a red light
, you could recover 80% of your own damages. Let’s say that you weren’t injured, but the damage to your car is $3,000, you could recover $2,400 (80% of the total damage).
Under Kansas law, because they were more than 49% at fault, they can’t recover anything from you.
Key Takeaway As long as you weren’t more than 49% at fault for an accident, you can file an insurance claim and recover damages.

How to find affordable car insurance

If you were found to be partially at fault for an accident, your insurance rate might jump. Nobody wants the headache of dealing with those increased monthly premiums, especially after a collision.
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Yes. When insurance companies decide on your premium, they take into account past accidents. So, if you were found to be at fault in an accident, expect your insurance rates to jump up (and use Jerry to keep them down!).
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