Prior to June 14, 2019, a Kansas state law imposed limits on non-economic damages in Kansas personal injury lawsuits. On that date, the Supreme Court of the State of Kansas issued an opinion holding that statute unconstitutional, effectively eliminating the previous cap on non-economic damages. However, in some circumstances, comparative fault still may limit financial recovery in a personal injury case.
The term damages refers to financial compensation in a personal injury case. There are different types of damages, including economic and non-economic.
Economic damages, also called compensatory damages, reimburse (or compensate) the victim for out-of-pocket financial losses related to the injury. Economic losses include medical and hospital bills, treatment costs, lost wages, and similar items that can be quantified in dollar amounts.
In contrast, non-economic damages, sometimes called special or quality-of-life damages, are nonfinancial losses. They include items like pain and suffering, mental anguish, permanent disability, and similar losses that are difficult to quantify in monetary terms.
On June 14, 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court invalidated a state statute, found at Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-19a02, that imposed specific limits on recovery for non-economic losses in personal injury cases. The Court held that the law unconstitutionally intrudes on a jury’s determination of compensation for reimbursement of injuries to a personal injury plaintiff.
The Court effectively abolished the previous limitation on non-economic damages for personal injury. If you have a pending personal injury lawsuit, you should contact your attorney to discuss the potential implications of the Court decision on your case.
Kansas still has a different law that may limit compensation in a personal injury case. This limit applies to both economic and non-economic damages. The statute, found at Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-258a, sets out a modified comparative negligence rule that applies to civil actions in the state.
Under the comparative negligence rule, a victim can recover compensation as long as the victim’s own comparative negligence is less than 50 percent. However, if the victim is 50 percent or more at fault, the law prohibits any recovery. In addition, if the victim’s comparative fault is between 1 percent and 49 percent, the victim’s compensation is reduced in the same proportion as the victim’s comparative fault.
Our blog post, How Does the Kansas Comparative Negligence Rule Affect Your Compensation in a Personal Injury Case?, provides additional details about the Kansas rule and how it applies to compensation in a personal injury case.
Application of the comparative fault rules to a specific case involves complex legal analysis. If you are seriously injured and another person is at fault, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney will explain how comparative fault may affect your claim.
At the Salina, Kansas law firm Hampton & Royce, L.C., we assist clients throughout the state with personal injury matters, including car and truck accidents. Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your case with us.