Find out your legal options after a hit-and-run crash in the Sunflower State
This article provides an in-depth look into hit-and-run laws in Kansas, highlighting the penalties, statistics, and practical steps for victims to recover damages.
Hit-and-run accidents are traumatic events that can leave victims with severe injuries, financial burdens, and emotional distress.
Unfortunately, studies show that only ten percent of hit-and-run perpetrators are caught.
In this article, we’ll look at hit-and-run laws in Kansas, the penalties associated with these offenses, and what steps you can take to recover damages if you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, even if the hit-and-run driver is never found.
Kansas hit-and-run statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a hit-and-run accident occurs every 43 seconds in the United States.
In 2020 alone, 2,564 people were killed in hit-and-run accidents across the country. Unfortunately, the Sunflower State is not unfamiliar with hit-and-run drivers. Roughly three people are killed in hit-and-run accidents for every ten billion miles traveled in Kansas, adding up to about nine hit-and-run deaths per year.
Kansas resident Maria Martinez was crossing the street at the intersection of Central and Edgemoor in Wichita when she was struck by a vehicle.
The driver fled the scene of the accident.
Despite the efforts of emergency personnel, Maria passed away from her injuries at a local hospital.
The driver, Javier Rizo, was later caught and sentenced to life in prison.
Hit-and-run laws in Kansas
Kansas’ hit-and-run laws can be found in Kansas Statutes Annotated Section 8-1604.
The statute requires drivers to take three steps if they’re involved in an accident to avoid a hit-and-run charge:
- Stop at the scene of the accident (or as close to the scene as possible),
- Provide the driver’s name, address, and vehicle registration number to the other parties involved, and
- Render reasonable aid to any person injured in the accident.
In addition to the above steps, the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash must report the accident if:
- No police officer is present, and
- There appears to be property damage of $1,000 or more, or someone was injured or killed in the crash.
What constitutes “reasonable aid” under Kansas’ hit-and-run statute?
Drivers aren’t required to put themselves at risk to help others involved in a crash. For example, a driver involved in an accident isn’t required to break into a burning car to rescue an injured occupant.
However, drivers are required to take reasonable steps to help injured persons. Reasonable aid may take several forms, but Kansas law specifically provides the example of calling emergency services or transporting an injured person to the nearest hospital.
What are the penalties for a hit-and-run accident in Kansas?
The penalties for a hit-and-run in Kansas vary based on the circumstances of the accident.
Here’s a closer look:
|Type of accident
|Property damage less than $1,000
|Up to $1,000
|Up to 6 months
|Injury or property damage over $1,000
|Class A misdemeanor
|Up to $2,500
|Up to 1 year
|Great bodily injury
|Level 8 felony
|Up to $100,000
|Up to 29 months
|Level 5 felony
|Up to $300,000
|Up to 136 months
What should I do if I fled the scene of an accident?
People flee the scene of an accident for all kinds of reasons, including:
- Fear of consequences
- Panic or shock
- Lack of awareness
- Fear of financial liability
- Impaired judgment
From a psychological perspective, the "fight or flight" response is a basic survival mechanism that can be activated during high-stress situations such as car accidents. When this response is triggered, the body releases hormones like adrenaline, which can cause a person to act impulsively or without clear thinking.
If you fled the scene of an accident, you should immediately call the nearest police station and provide notice of the accident, along with your contact information. Doing so might not save you from a hit-and-run conviction, but it’s the right thing to do, and it may result in you receiving a lesser sentence.
How do I recover damages after a hit-and-run accident?
Recovering damages after a hit-and-run accident in Kansas is easier than recovering damages after a hit-and-run accident in most other states. This is because drivers in Kansas are required to carry Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Both types of insurance provide drivers with coverage for injuries sustained in a hit-and-run crash.
Unfortunately, if you suffer damage to your vehicle or your injuries exceed your UM and PIP policy limits, you’ll need to make up the difference by suing the at-fault driver (who may be impossible to locate) or utilizing optional coverage you may have purchased.
Let’s take a look at an example of how someone may seek compensation after a hit-and-run crash in Kansas:
Tom was driving home from work one evening when suddenly, a speeding vehicle ran a red light and collided with the side of Tom's car at the intersection of SW 10th Ave and SW Topeka Blvd. Stunned and in pain from what felt like a broken arm, Tom looked up just in time to see the other vehicle speeding away from the scene.
Tom’s medical bills will cost $50,000. What’s more, it will cost Tom $10,000 to fix his vehicle. Tom has only the minimum PIP and UM coverage required under Kansas law.
Tom’s PIP insurance will cover $4,500 of his medical expenses. His UM coverage will cover an additional $25,000. He’ll need to sue the at-fault driver to recover the remaining $20,500.
Tom will also need to sue the at-fault driver for the property damage to his vehicle.
If Tom can’t locate the at-fault driver, he’ll likely have to cover the additional expenses himself.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a hit-and-run crash?
If you’re able to locate the hit-and-run driver, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover any damages that your insurance doesn’t cover.
In Kansas, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years. This means you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, or your lawsuit will, in most cases, be forever barred.