The value of a catastrophic personal injury claim is usually dictated by two main factors. The first is the amount of insurance that is available to pay a settlement. This will often be a limited amount, and so a person needs to make sure that whoever is responsible is not independently wealthy, or has money beyond their policy limits. The second factor is the cap in Kansas, which has limits on how much you can recover in pain, and suffering. We are currently working on a number of cases that if they go through the litigation process, they will well exceed the cap in pain, and suffering damages.
If we have to litigate these cases through the court, we will argue that this cap of $300,000 is unconstitutional, because it unfairly limits a person’s rights to a jury trial for pain and suffering in Kansas, but in the past, it has had a significant cap on pain and suffering.
Most of your medical bills are going to be submitted to an insurance company for payment pending the settlement of your personal injury claim. Most of the time, people have a no-fault insurance policy, if it is a car insurance policy, that will pay an initial amount of medical bills, and then once that sum is exhausted, then the medical bills will be submitted to health insurance. You should not be bashful about submitting those bills to your health insurance, because that is what the policy is for. Generally speaking, in most situations, bills are taken care of in that fashion, and in that order. The bills are not pending at the time of the settlement. They are already paid.
Sometimes, we have been able to work out arrangements with healthcare providers to hold off on trying to collect on medical bills pending a settlement, that is a possibility.
If the catastrophic accident was partly your fault, the percentage of fault that would be assigned to you would reduce the value of the claim by that percentage. In Kansas, you can be forty-nine percent at fault, and still recover against the other party who was at greater fault than you were. Once you reach the threshold of fifty percent fault, you cannot recover. Therefore, you have to be careful in your analysis, and make sure that you understand the law, and apply it to your case. The short answer to this question is if you think that you are partly at fault in an accident, you need to retain a lawyer immediately after an accident to have this fault issue evaluated along with the damages to determine whether or not it is worth your time to pursue the matter, and whether or not an attorney can be successful in making a recovery on your behalf.
If you wait in those types of cases, most times, you will lose any chance to prove that percentage of fault was more appropriately assigned to the other party as being greater than your fault. Waiting is your enemy in those cases.
Most of those catastrophic personal injury claims are ordinary negligence claims, and in Kansas, the statute of limitations is two years with some exceptions to extend those two years. I would never rely upon exceptions to the statute of limitations in negligence claims, in Kansas. I would always file my lawsuit whenever possible within two years from the date of the accident. If it takes you longer than two years to get back on your feet, a lawsuit can be filed, and the court with the effective assistance of counsel delay proceedings for a period if your injuries reach a point of maximum medical improvement within a short period.
I have the courts to stall cases until a person does get to that point of maximum medical improvement, where all the damages can be properly assessed. If you are not able to get to that point of maximum medical improvement before you have to try your case, at the very least, you can obtain a doctor’s opinion that supports this as future medical care, and those doctor’s opinion can be used in your case to protect your rights to any future medical care.