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Being involved in a car accident is a terrifying experience that can leave you in shock, disbelief, and fear. When that accident is caused by someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may also feel anger and frustration, and the need to hold the responsible person accountable.
A DUI accident caused by someone else's reckless behavior is a tragic and preventable event that results in significant harm to anyone involved, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and other innocent parties on the road. Drunk driving accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or even fatalities. In Kansas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that alcohol-impaired driving accounted for 1,046 traffic atalities between 2009 and 2018.
If you have been injured in a DUI accident, or you have lost a family member in a drunk driving accident, we understand that the aftermath can be overwhelming. You may find yourself facing significant financial burdens once medical bills start coming in. Having an injury that has rendered you unable to work means no income, further complicating the situation. That's where the law offices of Martin & Wallentine come in. We understand the complexities of Kansas DUI accident cases and are dedicated to providing our clients with the best possible legal representation. Contact us today at 913-754-9700 to learn how we can help you achieve the compensation you deserve.
The Basics of Drunk Driving Accidents
DUI stands for "driving under the influence." A DUI accident is a car accident that occurs when a driver is operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A drunk driving accident tends to be more severe than other car accidents not involving substance use, due to the high speeds and reckless driving often involved. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on average, one person is killed every 52 minutes in a DUI accident in the United States.
In addition to alcohol, drivers can be impaired by illicit drugs, over-the-counter meds, or prescription medication. Any of these could potentially lead to a DUI accident. Drugs that increase the risk of car accidents include:
- Cold and allergy medicines
- Sleep aids
Overview of Kansas DUI Laws
In Kansas, it is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving under the influence is defined as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or any other substance that impairs driving ability. Here are the basics of DUI laws in Kansas:
- Blood Alcohol Concentration - The legal limit for BAC is 0.08% for drivers 21 years and older. For drivers under 21, any BAC level above 0.00% is considered illegal.
- Breath or Blood Tests - Refusing to take a breath or blood test when suspected of DUI can lead to severe penalties. If you refuse to take a breath or blood test, your driver's license will be automatically suspended for one year. This penalty is separate from any criminal penalties that may apply.
- Ignition Interlock Devices - Kansas also requires IIDs for all DUI offenders. An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer installed in a car's dashboard. The driver must blow into the device to start the vehicle, and the device will prevent the car from starting if alcohol is detected.
- DUI Checkpoints - Kansas law enforcement uses DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols to detect and prevent drunk driving. A DUI checkpoint is a roadblock where police officers stop drivers to check for signs of impairment. Saturation patrols involve more officers on patrol, specifically looking for impaired drivers.
Penalties for DUI Offenses in Kansas
The severity of the criminal offense and the penalties for DUI in Kansas depends on the number of prior convictions and the specific circumstances of the offense. The different types of DUI offenses in Kansas include:
- First-time DUI offense: A first-time DUI offense is considered a Class B misdemeanor and carries a fine of up to $1,000, a minimum of 48 consecutive hours in jail, and up to six months imprisonment. The offender's license will also be suspended for 30 days, followed by restricted driving privileges for an additional 330 days.
- Second-time DUI offense: A second-time DUI offense in Kansas is also considered a Class A misdemeanor and carries a fine of up to $1,750, a minimum of 90 days in jail, and up to one year's imprisonment. The offender's license will be suspended for one year, followed by restricted driving privileges for an additional year.
- Third-time DUI offense: For a third-time DUI offense in Kansas, the offender is considered a habitual violator and charged with a level 8 nonperson felony. This offense carries a fine of up to $2,500, a minimum of 90 days in jail, and up to one year's imprisonment. The offender's license will be suspended for one year, followed by restricted driving privileges for an additional year.
- Aggravated DUI: Aggravated DUI is a more serious offense with harsher penalties. This violation occurs when the driver's BAC is 0.15% or higher, when a child under 14 is in the vehicle, or when the driver causes an accident resulting in injury or death. The penalties for aggravated DUI in Kansas depend on the number of prior DUI convictions and the specific aggravating factors present. A first-time aggravated DUI offense can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Subsequent violations can result in longer prison sentences and higher fines.
Overview of Common Causes of Kansas DUI Accidents
According to Kansas Health Matters, 19.4 percent of traffic fatalities involved alcohol between 2016 and 2020. The sad reality of drunk driving accidents is that they are preventable. These tragic incidents occur when a driver chooses to get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This impaired state affects their ability to make good driving decisions, decreases their reaction time, and increases the likelihood of an accident.
Common factors that contribute to DUI car accidents include:
- Alcohol and drug use: Alcohol and drugs impair judgment, reduce coordination, and affect reaction time, making it difficult for drivers to react to changing road conditions.
- Speeding and reckless driving: Drivers who speed or engage in reckless driving behaviors are more likely to be involved in accidents, especially when under the influence of pharmaceuticals or alcohol.
- Distracted driving: Anything that takes a driver's attention away from the road, such as texting or eating, can increase the likelihood of an accident. This risk escalates when an individual drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Fatigue and drowsy driving: Tired drivers who are under the influence of a substance have a slower reaction time and are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel, increasing the risk of a DUI accident.
- Poor weather and road conditions: Wet or icy roads can make it difficult to control a vehicle, especially when a driver is under the influence of any substances.
- Inexperience and lack of skill: Drivers who are inexperienced or lack the necessary driving skills are more likely to be involved in drunk driving accidents.
- Failure to obey traffic laws: Running red lights, failing to yield the right of way, and other traffic violations are more likely to happen when a driver is impaired, and they increase the risk of a DUI accident.
- Vehicle maintenance issues: Problems with a vehicle's brakes, tires, or other components can increase the likelihood of an accident, especially when combined with driver impairment.
- Medical conditions affecting driving ability: Medical conditions such as seizures, heart conditions, or other illnesses can impair a driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely, especially when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Injuries Caused by Drunk Driving Crashes
Drunk driving accidents in Kansas can result in devastating harm, emotional trauma, and financial loss. Victims of these accidents may experience long-term effects that can impact them and their families for years. DUI accidents cause a range of impairments, from minor to severe. Here are some types of harm a DUI accident may cause:
- Head Trauma: In a DUI accident, drivers and passengers can suffer from head injuries due to the impact of the collision. These can range from minor concussions to traumatic brain injuries.
- Neck and Back Ailments: Whiplash, herniated discs, and spinal cord injuries are some of the most common physical injuries caused by DUI accidents. These injuries can be debilitating and require extensive medical treatment.
- Broken Bones: Fractured or broken bones are another common injury in car accidents. The impact of the collision can cause bones to break or shatter, leading to long-term pain and mobility issues.
- Internal Injuries: A DUI accident can result in internal organ damage, such as the liver, spleen, or lungs. These injuries may not be visible but can be life-threatening.
- Burns: If the vehicle catches fire during a DUI accident, burns can be a significant risk. Burns can range from minor to severe, and severe burns may require skin grafts and long-term treatment.
- Soft Tissue Injuries: Impairments, such as bruises, sprains, and strains are common. These injuries can cause significant pain and discomfort and may require ongoing treatment.
- Psychological Injuries: Psychological harm, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are also possible after a DUI accident. These injuries can be long-lasting and may require counseling or therapy to treat.
Emotional Damages Caused by DUI Accidents
A DUI accident's psychological and emotional impact can be just as severe as physical injuries, requiring help from qualified mental health professionals. Some of the most common emotional damages include:
- Depression: After a DUI accident, victims may experience sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in daily activities.
- Anxiety: Some people may develop anxiety or panic attacks triggered by memories of the accident or even the thought of driving.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Victims of car accidents may develop PTSD, which can cause flashbacks, nightmares, and intense fear or anxiety.
- Guilt: Some people may experience guilt, even if the accident was not their fault, due to survivors' guilt or feeling like they could have done something to prevent the accident, even when that is not the case.
- Anger: Victims may feel anger towards the driver who caused the accident or the justice system if they think the driver did not receive appropriate punishment.
- Shame: Some may feel ashamed or embarrassed about the accident, especially if they sustained visible injuries.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: People who get serious injuries may experience a decreased joy of life and loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed due to the physical and emotional toll of the accident.
- Relationship problems: The emotional trauma of a DUI accident can strain relationships with family and friends and could even lead to divorce or estrangement.
- Decreased self-esteem: Victims may experience low self-esteem and confidence due to the physical and emotional scars left by the accident.
Financial Damages Caused by DUI Accidents
A drunk driving accident can have severe financial implications for those injured and their families. If you or a loved one has suffered harm after being involved in a DUI accident, seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you secure compensation for your damages. DUI accidents can result in significant financial damages, which can be catastrophic for the victims and their families. Here are some of the monetary damages:
- Medical Expenses: Car accidents can result in severe injuries requiring immediate medical attention. The medical expenses can be exorbitant, ranging from emergency room care to ongoing rehabilitation and therapy.
- Property Damage: Drunk drivers can cause significant damage to the victim's vehicle or other property. The cost of repairing or replacing the car or property can be substantial.
- Lost Wages: DUI accident victims may need to take time off work to recover from their injuries, which can result in lost wages. If the injuries are severe, the person may be unable to return to work, resulting in a long-term loss of income.
- Reduced Earning Capacity: If the injured person suffers permanent disability or injury, they may be unable to perform the same job they did before. This damage could result in a reduction in earning capacity, leading to financial hardship.
- Funeral Expenses: In cases where a victim loses their life in a DUI accident, funeral expenses can be significant. These expenses include funeral home services, burial or cremation costs, and other related expenses.
- Other Miscellaneous Expenses: Other expenses associated with a drunk driving accident may include car rental costs, transportation expenses, and additional related costs.
Steps to Take After a Kansas DUI Accident
Drunk driving accidents are among the leading causes of fatalities and injuries on American roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,142 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2019. If you are in a drunk driving accident, below are the first steps you need to take to protect yourself and ensure that you receive the necessary medical attention and legal representation.
Take Immediate Action
Ensure safety first. Move your vehicle to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. Check for injuries and seek medical attention if needed. Avoid talking with the other motorists and passengers involved, as your words could be misconstrued as admitting fault or in some other way used against you later. Document the scene with photos and notes to preserve important details and provide evidence for insurance and legal purposes.
Contact the Authorities
You should contact the local police or 911 after a DUI accident, even if no one is seriously hurt. Emergency services will need to come to the scene to assess injuries, damage, and so the police can write up a police report. This will be important to have as evidence should you pursue a personal injury lawsuit for the DUI accident.
Seek Medical Care
Also immediately after a DUI accident, see medical treatment, even if you don't have any obvious injuries. Long-term severe effects may arise from internal or traumatic brain injuries that are not immediately apparent. A medical record of treatment and injuries is also needed for legal and insurance purposes.
Collect Evidence for the Accident
After a DUI accident, gathering evidence is crucial to protect your rights and receive fair compensation for damages. Collect driver contact and insurance details, take photos of the accident scene and vehicle damage, and obtain witness statements. A copy of the official police report should be obtained as well. Seek advice from a personal injury attorney for guidance on evidence collection.
Legal Options for Kansas DUI Accident Victims
If you have been involved in a DUI accident in Kansas, you have legal remedies available to help you recover damages. Under the law, you can take action against the drunk driver if you are a DUI accident victim. Filing a personal injury lawsuit to achieve a verdict, or negotiating a settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance company are two of the most common options.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
A personal injury lawsuit involves going to court to prove the negligence of the at-fault driver and recover damages. The process of filing a personal injury lawsuit can be complex, and it's crucial to hire an experienced personal injury attorney.
First, the attorney will investigate the accident and gather evidence to support your claim. They will then file a complaint with the court and conduct pre-trial discovery to collect more evidence. Settlement negotiations or a trial may follow after this. Most cases settle before trial begins.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit can allow you to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It can also hold the at-fault party accountable for their actions and encourage safer driving practices. However, the process can also be time-consuming, expensive, and uncertain.
Negotiating a Settlement with the At-Fault Party
Negotiating a settlement involves reaching an agreement with the at-fault party or their insurance company outside of court. If you desire an out-of-court payout, you must produce evidence supporting your claim, determine a fair settlement amount, and communicate effectively with the at-fault party or their insurance company.
Negotiating a settlement can have benefits, including a faster resolution than a trial, lower legal costs, and maintaining control over the outcome. However, the at-fault party or their insurance company may dispute the claim, and there is a possibility of receiving a lower settlement amount than what is fair. There is also a potential for a breakdown in negotiations.
Benefits of Hiring a Kansas DUI Accident Lawyer
Being involved in a DUI accident can be a life-changing event. Seeking legal representation from a Kansas DUI accident lawyer can help you navigate the maze of legal bureaucracy and red tape to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Knowledge and Experience in DUI Accident Cases
A Kansas City DUI lawyer has the necessary knowledge and experience to handle the complexities of a DUI accident case. They know Kansas state laws and regulations. They know how to investigate and gather evidence to support your claim and can anticipate and prepare for the opposing party's arguments.
Negotiate with Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are known for using various tactics to reduce settlements. A DUI accident lawyer has experience negotiating with insurance companies to avoid these traps. They can communicate with them effectively to negotiate a fair settlement. They also have the skill to calculate the claim's fair value based on the full scope of your injuries' severity, lost wages, and other damages.
Assistance in Determining the Fair Value of the Claim
A Kansas DUI accident lawyer can assist you in determining the fair value of your claim. They can evaluate the extent of injuries and the impact on the your life, assess the financial losses incurred, including medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage, and calculate intangible damages, such as pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
Legal Representation in Court
If the case goes to court, a DUI accident lawyer has the skill to represent you effectively. They know the court procedures and rules of evidence, and can argue your case persuasively before a judge and jury.
A DUI accident lawyer can help reduce the stress you experience by handling all legal aspects of the case on your behalf. They provide guidance and support throughout the legal process, allowing you to devote energy to your recovery process
What to Look for in a DUI Accident Lawyer
When searching for a Kansas DUI accident lawyer, look for someone with experience handling DUI accident cases, knowledge of Kansas state laws and regulations, and a track record of successful negotiations and court cases. They should also seek someone who is available to provide personalized attention to their case, communicates effectively, and has a transparent fee structure with no hidden costs.
FAQs About Kansas DUI Accidents
What's the difference between a DUI and a DWI?
In Kansas, there is no difference between a DUI (driving under the influence) and a DWI (driving while intoxicated). The state uses DUI to refer to all impaired driving offenses, regardless of whether alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both influenced the driver. Most states may use the term DWI to specifically refer to drunk driving and DUI to refer to driving under the influence of medications, but in Kansas, they are used interchangeably.
What is negligence in Kansas DUI cases?
Negligence in Kansas DUI cases refers to the failure of a driver to exercise reasonable care while operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Negligence can be proven if the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit of 0.08% or if the driver exhibits signs of impairment such as slurred speech, erratic driving, or failed field sobriety tests. Negligence can lead to both criminal charges and civil liability for damages caused by the driver's actions.
Can I file a lawsuit if I am injured in a DUI accident in Kansas?
If you are injured in a DUI accident in Kansas, yes. You may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for your injuries and damages.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a DUI accident in Kansas?
In Kansas, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years from the accident date.
What damages can I recover in a lawsuit after a DUI accident in Kansas?
You may be able to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and other losses related to the accident.
Can I recover damages if I was partially at fault for the DUI accident in Kansas?
Yes, Kansas follows a modified comparative fault system, meaning you can still recover damages even if you were partially at fault for the accident. However, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
How much does it cost to hire a Kansas DUI accident lawyer?
The cost of hiring a Kansas DUI accident lawyer can vary depending on the lawyer's experience, the difficulty of the case, and the fee structure. Many lawyers offer a free initial consultation and work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they recover compensation for you.
Can I sue the bar or restaurant that served alcohol to the driver in a DUI accident in Kansas?
In some cases, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the bar or restaurant that served alcohol to the driver if they were visibly intoxicated at the time. This legal concept is known as a dram shop claim.
Can I still recover damages if the driver in the DUI accident was uninsured or underinsured?
A: You may still be able to recover damages if the driver in the DUI accident was uninsured or underinsured. In these cases, your insurance policy may provide coverage through uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.
What is the difference between a criminal case and a civil case in a DUI accident in Kansas?
The state brings a criminal case in a DUI accident in Kansas against the at-fault driver, and can result in fines, license suspension or revocation, and jail time. A civil case is brought by the victim or their representative against the at-fault drunk driver to recover compensation for their injuries and damages.
Can I recover punitive damages in a DUI accident case in Kansas?
In some cases, you may be able to recover punitive damages in a DUI accident case in Kansas. Punitive damages are designed to punish the at-fault driver for their reckless or intentional conduct and deter similar behavior in the future.
How long does a DUI accident case in Kansas typically take to resolve?
The time it takes to resolve a DUI accident case in Kansas can vary depending on the case's complexity, the extent of the injuries and damages, and the court's schedule. Some cases may be resolved within a few months, while others may take several years.
At Martin & Wallentine Law Firm, We Fight for Your Rights
Have you or a loved one been injured in a Kansas DUI accident? You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Martin & Wallentine are here to help you get the justice you deserve.
Trustworthy Legal Representation for Your Kansas DUI Accident Case
At Martin & Wallentine, we believe in building trust with our clients. We understand the stress and frustration of a serious injury, and are committed to providing you with the guidance and support you need.
Our experienced team of personal injury lawyers will represent your interests and fight for your rights. We will handle the legal complexities of your case, negotiating with insurance companies and ensuring you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Experienced DUI Accident Attorneys for Successful Outcomes
When you hire Martin & Wallentine, LLC, you can rest assured that you have the support of an experienced legal team. Our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of Kansas DUI accident cases and are dedicated to achieving successful outcomes for our clients.
We understand that every case is unique, and we will work tirelessly to ensure you receive personalized attention and guidance throughout the legal process as well as a favorable resolution for your case.
Injured in a Kansas DUI Accident? We Can Help. Contact Us Now
Don't wait to get the legal representation you need. Contact Martin & Wallentine Law Firm today at 913-754-9700 to schedule a consultation. Let us help you fight for your rights and get the maximum compensation you deserve.
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