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FAQ

Personal Injury FAQ

I've just been in a wreck. What do I do?

The first thing you need to do after an automobile accident is to call the police and get the authorities there to get the scene documented. If you get in an accident with somebody and they say it isn't a big deal, that there’s no damage and they do not want to call anybody, there’s usually a reason for this.  That is all the more reason for you to call the police, and not doing so would be to your disadvantage. Always get it documented. Always get a report as to what happened.

Another good idea if you can, and most people can because they have cell phones, is to take pictures at the accident scene.

The other thing you need to keep in mind is that it's perfectly natural to give it a few days to see how you're feeling after an automobile accident. However, be cautious toughing it out or waiting too long before seeing a doctor. This delay could give the insurance company an out. If you wait weeks to go to a doctor after an automobile accident, the insurance company could say you aren’t hurt or that you got hurt at work or home. You owe it to yourself to get the medical care that you need.

When you get in an automobile accident, call the police, and get the medical treatment you need. If you have questions, talk to a lawyer who deals in automobile accidents. You can always call in the Accident Recovery Team at 316-267-TEAM. We look forward to helping you.

Should I talk to an insurance company after my accident?

We would recommend that you don't talk to an insurance company until you talk with an attorney. The reason for this is that the insurance company will want to take a recorded statement from you, and they could use that recorded statement against you at a later date to reduce the value of your claim.

Auto Accidents and Wage Loss / PIP Benefits

Within your auto policy, you have a provision called PIP, which stands for personal injury protection benefits. Within that PIP portion of your policy, there is some coverage for medical expenses, essential services, and also wage loss.

The minimum policy in Kansas provides to you $900 a month for wage loss. If your wages are less than $900 per month, your auto policy will pay you either eighty or eighty-five percent, depending upon what your policy dictates.

There are many times when people get in an auto accident and they can't work, regardless of what type of job they're doing. If you are not working and don’t have income coming in, it's important to ensure that your PIP policy covers your needs during this time.

There are multiple levels of wage loss within PIP. The minimum benefit provides $900 a month for wage loss. There are policies that provide higher wage loss benefits - $1,200, $1,500, or $1,700 -, so you will need to talk to your insurance agent about your options and choose the appropriate policy benefit level.

You will have to prove that you have wage loss to the other side, the person at fault. If it's within a day or on the day of the accident, your insurance company is probably not going to require much documentation besides the medical bills showing you were at the hospital. But when you make your wage loss claim to the person at fault, they will need verification of how long you were not able to work. This is done with two pieces of information -  a doctor's note stating you are unable to work and a note from your employer verifying your employment and wages.

Sometimes there are special circumstances in your wage loss that need more documentation,  like overtime or working special events. For this, you will need a statement or letter from your employer saying something like, "These are the special events or these are the overtime hours that he or she would have had if they were working. But because they were taken off work because of this loss, they couldn't work that."

Another special circumstance is self-employment. If you're self-employed, it can be difficult to prove your wage loss. You will need to provide the insurance company with invoices or past tax returns to prove your monthly wages. Sometimes self-employed individuals can run into a problem if they don't file taxes correctly. The insurance company is going to look at prior tax filings to determine what you've made in previous years. If you have a new business just starting this year and you haven't filed taxes, then you're going to need invoices or other documentation to prove how much you make.

Who pays my medical bills?

This might seem like a simple question. It's not. Under Kansas law, after you've been in an auto accident, the priority list develops as to who's first in line to pay your medical bills. If you have auto insurance and you've been in an accident, your auto insurance is the first in line to pay your medical bills under something called PIP: personal injury protection coverage. It's important when you go to the doctor after an auto accident that you give that doctor or the hospital or the ER your auto insurance information. If the bills are sent to your health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid and your auto insurance company hasn't paid yet, your health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid is probably going to deny payment. This could cause a situation of creditors calling and asking about payment of the medical bills.

When you get in an auto wreck in Kansas, your auto insurance is first in line to pay under PIP. The process is fairly simple. You need to fill out an application for those PIP benefits. And when you fill out that application, you need to tell your auto carrier what doctors you've been to, and then tell those doctors who your auto carrier is so that the bills get routed appropriately.

Another common question is, "I'm off work. How am I going to get my normal wage when I'm off work?" The answer is PIP coverage also provides a lost-wage benefit. Typically, and it varies depending on what kind of auto insurance you buy, you're going to be entitled to up to about 85 percent of your wage or $900 a month on the typical Kansas policy. However, policies differ and your benefits are determined based upon the kind of policy bought.

PIP is fairly straightforward, but there is a process to follow. If you have questions about the process, if you want to know how to get it done, or want to be sure it's done right, feel free to call the Accident Recovery Team. Any of our lawyers would be happy to walk you through the process of making a PIP claim. Our phone number here is 316-267-TEAM. Call us with your questions.

I just got hit by a guy who has no auto insurance. What do I do?

Every auto policy issued in the state of Kansas is required to have something in it called uninsured motorist coverage. What that effectively means is that if you get hit by a person with no auto insurance, your insurance company needs to step into the place of the uninsured motorist and provide the very same benefits the uninsured motorist's insurance company would have provided if they had an insurance policy. So basically if you get hit by an uninsured motorist and you have insurance on your car, you're still protected through your own insurance company.

Many times when you call your insurance company and tell them your car was hit by someone who doesn't have insurance, they're not going to mention that you have uninsured motorist coverage. Many people don’t know they have this coverage, but you do if you have a Kansas policy. If you get hit by an uninsured motorist and you have questions about the benefits that you're entitled to under your policy, call the Accident Recovery Team. We'd be happy to walk you through the process and answer your questions about an uninsured motorist claim.

What is a Product Liability claim?

A product liability case is one where somebody is injured by a defect in a product that they've been using. That product can be something you might use at home, like a lawnmower or a piece of kitchen equipment, or it could be something that you use at work, like a large piece of machinery that's used in a manufacturing process or some tool that you use during the course of your employment.

A product liability case is a significant event. It's a significant event for the person who gets hurt because often the injuries that flow from a product liability case or defect of a product are significant. A product liability case makes a significant impact on the life of the person who gets hurt.

When you have a product liability claim it's often time-consuming because it’s necessary to hire many experts to prove the person who manufactured the product knew or should have known of the potential defect in the product. Often times that means hiring mechanical engineers, electrical engineers or design professionals. Accident Recovery Team has the capability to find the right people, hire the right experts and prove who is at fault in your case.

The other aspect of a product liability case is proving the damages to the person who got hurt.

That usually entails hiring medical professionals, doctors, and people to estimate the cost of the future medical care someone might need as a result of injury by a defective product.

The attorneys at the Accident Recovery Team know product liability law and want to handle your products liability claim. If you have questions about a product liability case, contact the Accident Recovery Team at 316-267-TEAM or at 267TEAM.com.

Workers Compensation FAQ

What kinds of jobs are subject to the Workers Compensation Act?

The Kansas Workers Compensation Act applies to all employers in Kansas who have an annual total payroll in excess of $20,000 when all employees pay is added together. There are some other limited statutory exceptions, but most employers in Kansas are subject to the statute, even if they are “self-insured.”

What kinds of accidents are covered by the Workers Compensation Act?

The statute covers those accidents which arise out of and in the course of employment. There is a great deal of litigation over what accidents “arise out of and in the course of” employment. You will need a legal consultation of your facts to determine whether the accident is one that should be covered.

What kinds of injuries are covered under the Workers Compensation Act?

The statute defines injury as a physical change or lesion in the body. If you have suffered an injury you are entitled to medical treatment. If the injury results in any permanent residual effects you may also be entitled to compensation. Injuries may be physical injuries that result from a specific event in time, or injuries may be conditions that have progressed or worsened over time through repetitive activity.

Specific accidents and injuries through repetitive activity may also cause an aggravation, acceleration or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition. In this instance the injured worker may still be entitled to treatment and compensation.

Vision loss, hearing loss, respiratory injury and even psychological injury are all compensable if there is sufficient evidence to establish that work activities have caused damages in these areas.

What do I do first and how long do I have to do it?

The date of accident in a case is very important because there are time limitations you must comply with in order to preserve and pursue your workers compensation claim.

If you have suffered an injury you must notify your employer within 10 days of the date of accident. Notice may be verbal, but written notice is preferable. Ask to complete an accident report.

If the injury was the result of a specific event, then the date of accident is well defined, but if the injury is the result of activities over time, the date of accident is more difficult to define. However, the court will still make a determination for a “date of accident” because you must still comply with other timelines. So the court will look at several things to determine what the date of accident should be. First they will look at whether the injury resulted in any lost time from work. The court will also look at when medical treatment was sought, when work restrictions were first imposed, or whether you were ever taken off work by a doctor. In looking at these things the court is looking for when you knew, or should have known, the injury was work related. At this point the court would impose the “date of accident” and you are expected to give notice to the employer within 10 days.

Notice can be extended to 75 calendar days after the date of accident upon a showing of “good cause” for the delay. There is no statutory definition of “good cause” and is generally considered on a case-by-case basis. There have been few exceptions.

Failure to provide timely notice can result in an otherwise valid claim being denied.

If notice of injury is provided, you then have 200 days from the date of the accident to make a demand for any of the recognized workers compensation benefits. Written demand must be in writing, must have your name or signature and make a clear request for benefits. Although no particular form is required, a written claim form is available from the Division of Workers Compensation in Topeka, Kansas.

If, after the accident, treatment is initiated by the employer voluntarily, the written claim and 200 day period does not begin to run until the employer or insurance carrier has stopped providing benefits.

Failure to provide timely written claim can result in an otherwise valid claim being denied.

If a written claim / demand for benefits has been denied or there is no response, you will need to take legal action. You have 3 years from the date of accident, or 2 years from the date of last provided benefit to file a case with the Division of Workers Compensation. Any unnecessary delays will hurt your case even if eventually filed in time.

Failure to file a case in time can result in an otherwise valid claim being denied.

How do I get medical treatment?

Initially a request for medical treatment may be verbal, and made to your direct supervisor, lead or manager. If a verbal request does result in prompt action, make a written demand for treatment and provide copies to your supervisor, lead or manager and a copy to human resources or some other higher department within your employer’s company. If there is still no cooperation, you will need to take legal action.

Who pays for my medical treatment?

Whether the employer or its insurance carrier has voluntarily agreed to initiate medical treatment, or you have forced them to do so through legal representation, the employer or its insurance carrier are responsible to provide all reasonable and necessary medical treatment. Accordingly, they have the right to appoint the authorized treating doctor. The right to appoint the treating doctor is not the right to control the treating doctor. This is something frequently abused by the workers compensation insurance carrier and you may need legal representation to fight such abuse.

Any medical costs you incur from a source other than the authorized treating doctor, the employer or insurance carrier may not have to pay for and you may be responsible for the bill. Try to avoid unauthorized medical treatment without first seeking a legal consultation.

If the employer has terminated your authorized medical treatment and you wish to seek more treatment, you will need legal assistance.

What if I am missing work due to injury?

Time missed from work due to injury may entitle you to a weekly workers compensation check. This is referred to as temporary total disability compensation.
Following a one week statutory waiting period, you would be entitled to a weekly compensation check for time lost from work if the authorized doctor either takes you off work, or has given you temporary work restrictions that your employer cannot or will not accommodate. You cannot create time off from work and become eligible for workers compensation checks by missing work based upon your own determination, regardless of the severity of your injury.

The weekly workers compensation checks are paid at 2/3 of your gross average weekly wage as calculated from the wages for the 26 weeks immediately preceding your date of accident. There are maximums weekly benefits set each year.

If you are missing work due to injury and are not receiving weekly workers compensation checks, your job may be at risk. Do not place your job at risk. Seek legal consultation immediately.

Is my employer required to accommodate my restrictions with light duty work?

No. Under workers compensation laws, the employer is not required to provided accommodated employment. However, the failure to do so may entitle you to a weekly workers compensation check during treatment. It may also result in additional damages at the end of the claim if the employer unable to return you to work when treatment is completed. It may also expose your employer to possible liability for violations of the American’s with Disabilities Act and the Kansas Act Against Discrimination if their failure to return you to your job is deemed a discriminatory decision rather than a true overburdening inability to accommodate. If your employer is unable to accommodate your restrictions, you should seek legal consultation to determine the legal consequences in your particular set of facts.

What kind of compensation can I receive for my injuries?

There are many kinds of damages in a workers compensation case. First, there are weekly temporary total disability payments that pay for lost wages while you are off work, restricted duty and in treatment. Second, at the end of treatment there is also as assessment of physical damages, which is represented by a percentage of functional impairment in the opinion of the doctor, using the Fourth Edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Typically, insurance company appointed physicians rate much lower than other doctors when using these guidelines, thus resulting in a lower value of compensation, and therefore lower settlement offer. You should not settle loss of physical function/disability claims without legal consultation.

Third, in some cases, if the employer is unable or unwilling to return you to work after you have been released from treatment, you may be able to seek damages for loss of the job. This is referred to as a Work Disability. You should never settle loss of job damages without legal consultation.

Finally, in some cases, additional money is paid toward future medical needs. You should never discuss settling future medical needs without legal consultation.

What rights do I have for future medical needs?

If your injuries have resulted in any permanent damage, or if the insurance carrier is making you any offer of settlement, then you potentially have the right to future medical treatment, which would continue to be the responsibility of the workers compensation insurance carrier.

If the judge were to enter an award in your favor, the judge’s award, according to the statute, would retain your right to seek additional medical treatment in the future should your condition change. To do so you must first have an award from the court. Thereafter you may file an application with the Division of Workers Compensation requesting that the judge hear your motion for additional medical treatment. The right to future medical is theoretically open indefinitely following an award, but there are a number of complications that could affect your ability to use it.

Additionally, the closure of future medical rights may expose you to negative consequences should you later seek the assistance of Medicare.

If you do not obtain an award, or a court approved settlement with open future medical, then your future medical rights have not been preserved.

Do not relinquish future medical rights in a settlement without legal consultation.

Can my award ever be changed / Can I seek any additional compensation if my injuries change in the future?

Under either an award from the judge, or through a court approved settlement, you can secure what is called the right to review and modification. The right to review and modification would allow any prior award or settlement to be reopened, reviewed and possibly changed, if your condition changes or your employment status changes.

Do not relinquish future review and modification rights in a settlement without legal consultation.