In a Kansas negligence action, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty to commit an act or refrain from committing an act; the defendant breached their duty; the breach of the duty caused an injury to the plaintiff; the defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the injury and the plaintiff suffered damages.
Partial Comparative Negligence
K.S.A § 60-258(a) states that Kansas follows a comparative negligence standard in negligence cases. Comparative negligence does not completely bar a plaintiff’s potential monetary recovery for damages even if the plaintiff was partially responsible for their injury. Instead, comparative negligence allows for a plaintiff to recover as long as their apportionment of fault was not greater than 49%. If the court finds that the plaintiff was 50% or more responsible for their own injury, the plaintiff is completely barred from monetary recovery.
Further, any award of damages is reduced by the amount of fault attributed to each party in the case. For example, if a jury awards a plaintiff $100,000 but also finds the plaintiff to be 10% at fault, the court will then reduce the total award to $90,000 to account for the 10% of fault assigned to the plaintiff.
Joint & Several Liability
Joint and several liability has been abolished in Kansas since the state follows a comparative fault standard. This means that a defendant is never responsible for the fault of other defendants in a negligence action. As a result, there is no right of contribution in negligence actions because the liability of each defendant must be compared, and recovery against each defendant is limited to that defendant’s proportion of the total attributable fault.
Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
Compensatory damages include reasonable expenses necessary for medical care; hospitalization and treatment; loss of earnings and loss of earning capacity; pain and suffering; disfigurement; mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Compensatory damages that fall under the category of being non-economic are capped. Under Kansas law, the cap is $250,000 for causes of action accruing up until July 1, 2014, and go up to $300,000 until July 1, 2018, $325,000 until July 1, 2022, and are capped at $350,000 for causes of action on after July 1, 2022.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff.
Per K.S.A. § 60-3702, the jury shall determine, under the clear and convincing standard, whether punitive damages should be awarded. If the jury finds that punitive damages are warranted then a separate hearing is held in state court in which the judge assesses the amount of punitive damages to be awarded. (In federal court the jury decides whether punitive damages should be awarded as well as the amount of punitive damages to be awarded.) To recover punitive damages the plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s conduct was outrageous or aggravated and provoked by willful or wanton conduct, malice, spite, fraud, or some other “evil” motive.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Kansas. Should you have a question/concern specific to Kansas law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Kansas.