Understanding Comparative Negligence In Kansas Personal Injury Claims

Personal injuries can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Whether it’s a slip and fall accident, a car crash, or a medical malpractice incident, such injuries often lead to physical, emotional, and financial losses. In Kansas, victims of personal injury accidents can hold the responsible party accountable through a court case or settlement. However, what happens if the victim shares some responsibility for the accident? In such cases, Kansas applies the principle of comparative negligence. This article explores the concept of comparative negligence in Kansas personal injury claims.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that determines the degree of fault of each party in an accident and assigns a percentage of responsibility. In Kansas, comparative negligence is based on the modified comparative fault rule, which states that a victim can recover damages from the other party if their percentage of fault is less than 50%. If the victim is found to be 50% or more responsible for the accident, they cannot recover any damages from the other party.

For example, let’s say that Jay walks while texting on his phone and collides with Mark, who is riding his bike lawfully. In court, the jury finds that Jay is 60% responsible for the accident, and Mark is 40% responsible. Suppose Mark’s damages amount to $100,000. In that case, he can recover $60,000 from Jay, who is 60% liable for the damages. However, if the jury finds that Mark is 50% or more responsible for the accident, he cannot recover any damages from Jay.

How Does Comparative Negligence Affect Personal Injury Claims?

Comparative negligence can affect the outcome of personal injury claims in two ways:

Reduction of Damages

If the victim is found to be partially at fault for the accident, their damages are reduced by the percentage of their liability. In other words, the liable party only pays for the damages that they are responsible for.

For example, suppose that Lucy slips and falls in a grocery store aisle that was wet from a recent spill. Lucy sues the store for her injuries, but the jury finds that she is 30% responsible for not looking where she was going. Lucy’s damages amount to $10,000. As per the modified comparative fault rule, the store is only responsible for 70% of the damages, which is $7,000.

Barred Recovery

If the victim is found to be 50% or more responsible for the accident, they cannot recover any damages from the other party. In such cases, the victim has to bear the entire burden of losses, even if the other party was also partially at fault for the accident.

For example, suppose that Tom gets into a car accident with Susan. Tom was speeding, but Susan made an illegal U-turn. The jury finds that Tom is 60% responsible for the accident, and Susan is 40% responsible. However, Tom’s damages are worth $100,000 because of his severe injuries. Even though Susan is partially liable for the accident, Tom cannot recover any damages from her, as his percentage of fault is more than 50%.

Why Is Comparative Negligence Important?

Comparative negligence is essential because it ensures that each party is held accountable for their actions in an accident. It prevents a victim from making a total recovery if they are partially responsible for the accident, which keeps the liability system fair and reasonable.

Moreover, comparative negligence encourages parties to behave responsibly and avoid accidents in the first place. If they are aware that their actions can affect their share of liability and financial recovery, they are more likely to take preventive measures and avoid risky behavior.

Conclusion

Personal injury accidents can be devastating, but comparative negligence aims to reduce the impact on the parties involved. By assigning a percentage of fault and liability, it ensures that each party is held accountable for their actions, and the recovery amount is proportionate to their damages. If you have been injured in an accident in Kansas, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you navigate the comparative negligence framework and maximize your recovery.

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