Kansas Negligence Laws
Negligence is the legal concept of owing a duty to other people, and not meeting the standard of care that duty requires. For example, a shopkeeper should maintain a clean floor. If the floor is still wet from a coffee spilled on it hours ago and a customer slips and is injured, that could be seen as the shopkeeper’s fault for not cleaning floor in a reasonable amount of time.
The Elements of Negligence
Negligence law itself is fairly uniform from one state to the next. Typically, the elements of a negligence case are:
- The defendant owed a duty to act or refrain from acting.
- He or she breached that duty.
- This breach of duty caused the plaintiff to be injured.
- The defendant’s actions or omissions were a reasonably foreseeable cause of plaintiff’s injuries.
- The plaintiff suffered some type of damage, such as medical bills, lost wages, loss of a limb, etc.
Comparative and Contributory Negligence
There are two main legal systems of negligence in the U.S. The first is the traditional contributory negligence where any fault on the part of the plaintiff bars recovery at all. This draconian system where the plaintiff could be found 1% at fault and the defendant 99% at fault, and still the plaintiff gets no relief for their damages is only used in a few states today. The second method is called comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is when a plaintiff recovers from the defendant, but only for the percentage the defendant was at fault.
Comparative negligence can further be broken down into “pure” and “modified.” In a pure system, a jury can find the defendant 1% at fault and the plaintiff 99% at fault, and the plaintiff can still recover that minimal amount. In a modified system, such as Kansas', the plaintiff can only recover if he or she was only about half at fault. Some states say the plaintiff can recover as long as 50% or less at fault, others say 49% or less. Kansas is a 49% or less recovery state.
The following chart further details the negligence laws in Kansas.
|Code Section||Kansas Statutes Section 60-258a: Comparative Negligence|
|Comparative Negligence||Since 1974, Kansas has used a comparative negligence system of recovery for various torts (personal injury or accident law).|
|Contributory Negligence||Contributory negligence isn’t a bar to recovery if the claimant’s negligence is less than the causal negligence of defendants, but damages diminished in proportion to the amount of attributable negligence.|
|Contribution Among Tortfeasors||Kansas has a pure several liability legal system, meaning each defendant is only responsible for his or her assigned portion of damages based on the percentage the jury found him or her responsible for the plaintiff’s damages. The Kansas Supreme Court in Brown v. Keill determined the Kansas legislature abolished joint and several liability when it adopted comparative negligence.
Joint and several liability permits one defendant to have to pay the plaintiff’s judgment for all other defendants and then seek contribution for each defendant’s share. That isn’t the law in Kansas, although it is in other states, including neighboring Missouri and Colorado.
|Uniform Act||No, Kansas didn’t adopt the Uniform Law Commission’s Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act, which dates back to 1939.|
Note: State laws often change over time, contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these negligence laws.
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