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The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) releases its Traffic Crash Facts Book every year. This report contains statistics on all the traffic crashes on Kansas public roads that "involve at least one motor vehicle and a fatality, an injury, or property damage greater than $1,000." Its latest report shows that the state recorded 57,598 traffic crashes in 2021. Of these, over 78% or 45,306 cases involved cars, while car occupants were identified as the most common victims of fatal crashes.

The 2021 data also show that the contributing circumstances for most crashes are driver-related. These include inattention, right-of-way violation, DUI, and noncompliance with driver's license restrictions.

Car accidents can be complex legal situations that require knowledge of state laws. If a person has been involved in a car accident in Kansas, it is important to understand the following relevant laws and how they may affect the plaintiff’s personal injury claim:

Kansas Distracted Driving Laws

In 2020, Kansas recorded 4.49 deaths per 100,000 licensed drivers, making it the state with the second most distracted driving fatalities, following New Mexico. On average, it records 2,223 distracted driving car crashes every year. While many people associate distracted driving with texting and calling, the act can take various forms. In fact, 65% of distracted driving accidents in Kansas are due to drivers performing common tasks like eating, applying makeup, and talking to other passengers.

Under Kansas law, the following forms of distracted driving are prohibited:

  • Reading, writing, and sending texts while driving

  • Using cell phones or any type of electronic communication device if the driver is under 18 years old

Although it is not illegal to eat a sandwich or drink coffee while driving, engaging in other activities while behind the wheel could still result in accidents or other violations (e.g., running a red light) if the driver loses focus.

If a person gets injured in an accident due to another distracted driver, it is recommended to contact a local car accident attorney who can handle communications with the victim’s insurance company and the at-fault party.

Kansas Seat Belt Laws

The Safety Belt Use Act requires all occupants in the front seat, regardless of age, to wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt when the car is in motion. Violation of this can lead to a $30 fine.

In addition, all occupants aged 14 to 17 must wear a seat belt, regardless of where they are sitting in a vehicle. This provision applies to all cars with fewer than ten passengers. If a law enforcement officer observes that an occupant between the ages of 14 and 17 is not wearing a seat belt, they can pull over and issue a citation even if there is no other violation committed. The fine for this violation is $60.

Kansas also has a law to protect children while on the road. Under the Child Passenger Safety Act, all children under four must be in a rear-facing car seat that meets federal safety standards. Children between four and seven years old must ride in a forward-facing booster seat unless they are taller than 4'9" or weigh over 80 lbs. For children 8 to 12 years old, a booster seat is necessary until they are tall enough to wear a seat belt properly.

The Kansas seat belt and child passenger safety laws are in place to help ensure the safety of all passengers in a vehicle and reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that occur in motor vehicle accidents.

Kansas Graduated Driver Licensing Laws

Kansas implements graduated licensing laws for teen drivers so that new drivers can get used to the roads and gain more driving experience before getting a license with no restrictions. The Kansas Graduated Driver's License program allows people to get a permit or license depending on their age, experience, and other specific circumstances. The following are the types of licenses they can acquire:

Instruction Permit

Teens between 14 and 16 can obtain an instruction permit if they have parental approval and pass the written and vision exams. This permit allows them to drive in Kansas as long as they are accompanied by an adult who is at least 21 years old and has a driver's license. The adult must also be in the front seat at all times, and the teen is not allowed to use any wireless communication device while behind the wheel.

People over 17 don't need permission from their parents to get an instruction permit as long as they pass the same tests. With an instruction permit, they must still be with a licensed adult to drive. However, the cell phone restriction does not apply to them.

Farm Permit

Teens who live or work on a farm can get a restricted permit (age 14 and 15) or a less restricted farm permit (age 16).

A restricted farm permit allows a licensee to use a car to get to and from the farm and school, but they are not allowed to drive non-sibling minors around.

Meanwhile, a less restricted farm permit is given to those who have completed 50 verified hours of driving. The permit holder can drive to and from the farm and school anytime and travel anywhere within the hours set by the law.

Restricted License

To get a restricted license, a person must:

  • Be 15 years old.

  • Have parental approval.

  • Have completed vision tests, 25 hours of verified driving time, and driver education.

  • Have held an instruction permit for at least one year.

Individuals with a restricted license still need an accompanying licensed adult when driving, except when going to and from school and work. They also cannot transport non-sibling minors and use a phone while driving. When they turn 16, they can apply for less restricted privileges if they have a satisfactory driving record and have completed the 50-hour affidavit.

Non-restricted Driver's License

After six months, teens with less restricted driver's privileges can acquire a non-restricted license without parental approval and additional tests.

With a non-restricted driver's license, holders can drive anytime and anywhere and use a phone while driving.

Violations of the restrictions for each license type can result in revocation or suspension for at least 30 days.

In 2021, there were 266 traffic crashes in Kansas that resulted from noncompliance with driver's license restrictions. When an individual breaks these restrictions, they are putting themselves at risk for accidents because they are operating a car in a situation where they may not have the necessary skills and experience.

Kansas Speeding Laws

In 2021, over 4,400 vehicle crashes in Kansas were reported due to speeding on the road. These crashes led to the deaths of 75 people.

According to the report by KDOT, a huge percentage of speed-related crashes involved drivers in their teens and 20s. More than half of speed-related fatal crashes in 2021 are associated with drivers aged 14 to 29.

To ensure public safety, the state has established two types of speeding laws.

Basic Speeding Law

The basic speeding law prohibits drivers from traveling "at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual hazards then existing." This means that drivers must adjust their speed according to the current conditions on the road and maintain a safe and reasonable speed for the current situation. For instance, a motorist driving below the posted speed limit of 50 mph can still be convicted of a speeding violation if they weren't driving at a speed that's considered safe for the weather at that time.

Under the law, there is no specific speed limit or formula to tell whether a driver's speed is considered safe. However, there are several factors that judges look at to decide a driver's case. These include the difference between the driving speed and the posted speed limit.

Absolute Speed Limits

Absolute speed limits are the maximum speed legally allowed to be driven on a particular road, regardless of the driving conditions or the driver's experience. They are fixed limits that must be followed at all times.

In general, absolute speed limits depend on the road's design, location, and traffic flow. For example, highways and interstates usually have higher speed limits than school zones and residential areas.

Imposing absolute speed limits is important to promote road safety as it helps reduce traffic accidents that can result in property damage, injuries, and even death. According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, if a vehicle goes faster than 50 mph, the driver’s risk of suffering a serious injury or death in a crash increases twice as much for every additional 10 mph in speed.

Below are the state’s speed limits on different types of roads:

  • 75 mph maximum on rural segments of a freeway with a 40 mph minimum.

  • 75 mph on the Kansas Turnpike, unless otherwise posted, with a 40 mph minimum.

  • 70 mph on some improved highways in rural areas.

  • 65 mph on improved two-lane highways.

  • 55 mph on two-lane paved highways unless otherwise posted.

  • 30 mph in residential areas unless otherwise posted.

The fines for speeding in Kansas vary depending on the severity of the offense. The penalties and court cost increase with the vehicle's speed.

For example, driving 1 to 10 mph over the speed limit can incur a $45 fine, while driving 31 mph above the limit can result in a fine of $195 plus $15 for each mph over 30 above the speed limit.

If a person violates the speed limit in a school or construction zone, they will be fined twice as much as they would for a regular speeding violation.

In case a speeding violation leads to a car crash, the driver may need the help of an experienced attorney who can assist them in navigating legal procedures and represent them in court.

Kansas Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements

Kansas law mandates that motor vehicle owners and operators have an insurance policy that includes the following minimum coverages:

Liability coverage

  • $25,000 per person per accident for bodily injury.

  • $50,000 total per accident for bodily injury.

  • $25,000 per accident for property damage.

Personal injury protection (PIP or no-fault)

  • The minimum amount required by law:

    • Medical expenses: $4,500/person.

    • One year for disability/loss of income: $900/month.

    • In-home services: $25/day.

    • Funeral, burial, or cremation expense: $2,000.

    • Rehabilitation expense: $4,500.

  • Survivor Benefits: Disability/Loss of income up to $900/month for one year.

  • In-home services: up to $25/day for one year.


  • $25,000/person.

  • $50,000/accident.

These minimum requirements ensure that car accident victims get proper medical care or that their families receive compensation if the policyholder causes an accident that leads to injuries or death.

Under Kansas law, the principal operator of a covered car is entitled to reduced premiums if they complete a motor vehicle accident avoidance course that follows a curriculum approved by a state or federal agency or a nationally recognized driver training program.

Kansas Is a No-Fault State for Insurance Claims

The Kansas Automobile Injury Reparations Act, or the no-fault insurance law, requires every driver to acquire personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. If a car accident occurs, the victim’s PIP insurance covers their medical expenses and some economic losses (e.g., lost wages), even if the accident was due to another driver's fault.

The injured driver can only file a legal claim against the at-fault driver if they sustain serious injuries and losses that their PIP insurance does not fully cover.

Additionally, the law limits drivers' rights to recover compensation for non-economic losses, such as emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. A victim may only obtain compensation for non-economic losses if their medical bills amount to $2,000 or more or the accident results in permanent disability or disfigurement, loss of a body part, or death, among others.

Kansas Is a Modified Comparative Fault System State for Car Accident Lawsuits

Kansas is one of the 33 states that practice the modified comparative fault system. Under this fault allocation framework, a judge or jury compares the at-fault party's negligence to the plaintiff's contributory negligence and decides on each party's fault percentage. Different states have a designated percentage.

In Kansas, if the plaintiff's percentage of fault reaches 50% or more, they cannot file a claim for compensation against the other party. On the other hand, if the victim's contributory negligence is 49% or below, they can obtain compensation for damages. The payment amount is reduced in proportion to the amount of fault assigned to the plaintiff. For instance, the jury awards the victim $50,000 for damages and determines they are 30% at fault for the auto accident. This means they would only receive $35,000 since 30% has to be deducted from the total amount.

Kansas also uses a system called "pure several liability," which is different from the modified comparative fault system. This system ensures that when more than one person is to blame for an accident, each person only pays the amount that matches the percentage of their fault.

Kansas Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents

In Kansas, the statute of limitations for car accidents is two years from the date of the accident. For example, if the crash happened on April 2, 2021, the victim has until April 2, 2023 to file a compensation claim.

The same length of time also applies to wrongful death claims. If a car accident results in the death of a person, their surviving family members have two years from the date of the victim’s demise to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover economic and non-economic damages.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Kansas Car Accidents

There are some exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations for car accidents. Under the delayed discovery rule, the clock on the statute of limitations will start ticking when the plaintiff finds out about the injuries, not when the injuries happened.

The statute of limitations may also be suspended if:

  • The plaintiff was a minor during the accident and couldn’t negotiate or manage a settlement on their own.

  • The plaintiff suffers from a mental or physical disability that prevents them from filing a claim.

Average Settlements for Kansas Car Accident Lawsuits

Below are the average car accident settlement amounts in Kansas based on the severity of an injury:

  • Minor injury: $6,719.

  • Moderate injury: $28,419.

  • Severe injury: $1,092,112.

In addition to the injury severity, the percentage of fault, insurance coverage, and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, also affect the settlement amounts in Kansas. All of these factors can make the settlement computation and other legal proceedings lengthy and complicated.

If a driver has been in a car accident and doesn’t have enough funds to cover their legal expenses, they may consider getting an attorney who offers a contingency fee arrangement. Under a contingency fee agreement, the lawyer won't charge the client any upfront costs for handling their claim. Instead, they will get paid from an agreed-upon portion of the settlement the client will receive.

Legal Resources for Kansas Car Accident Victims

Kansas Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service

The Kansas Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service assists individuals looking for legal representation by connecting them with qualified and licensed attorneys in their area. The service provides referrals to attorneys with experience in the relevant legal scope of the client's concern. The referral is free, but the attorneys who offer services may charge a consultation fee.

Kansas Insurance Department’s Motor Vehicle Accident Checklist

The Kansas Insurance Department has a checklist that victims can use while at the accident scene to keep them safe and help them acquire the information they need to process an insurance claim.

Kansas Department of Transportation - Property Damage Claims

If a car has sustained damage caused by road defects on any Kansas highway, the owner can file a property damage claim and email it to KDOT's representative.

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