Kansas Medical Malpractice Laws
Kansas is an epicenter of tort reform in the United States and imposes some of the tightest restrictions on medical malpractice actions of any state. However, any reasonable medical malpractice claim is still viable and should be considered in conjunction with an experienced attorney to determine its merit and viability under extant Kansas medical malpractice tort laws
From the Earliest Considerations of Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in the Jurisdiction of Kansas
A person who has been injured by medical malpractice in Kansas should consider the following from the outset of their knowledge or realization that medical malpractice may have occurred to themselves as a patient or a patient that they know, including:
- Kansas medical malpractice cases must be filed within two years of the actual date of when the malpractice occurred or two years after the injury is reasonably expected to be visible or known
- With few exceptions, a case that is filed more than four years after occurrence of the medical malpractice will be barred under a statute of repose in Kansas
- Kansas imposes a modified comparative negligence standard that precludes recovery of damages if the injured party is more than fifty per cent responsible for his injuries
- Either party or the judge in a Kansas medical malpractice case can refer the matter to an arbitration panel before trial
- Kansas medical malpractice law caps both noneconomic and punitive damages that can be received by an injured party and precludes claims for vicarious liability against hospital or medical center
Important Deadlines to Observe in Filing a Medical Malpractice Case under Kansas’ Jurisdiction
The strict application of the Kansas statute of limitations is apparent in Kelley v. Barnett, in which the injured party died following a malpractice event. The court determined that the statute had begun to run before her death and that her family had failed to initiate the case within the required two-year window. As this case illustrates, Kansas imposes a very strict burden of early filing on the injured party in even the most consequential medical malpractice matter.
Other critical timeframe-oriented considerations when considering filing a Kansas medical malpractice claim includes the following:
- Medical Malpractice claims in Kansas must be filed within two years of the malpractice or discovery of the injury.
- If the injury is discovered more than four years after the malpractice that caused it, the Kansas statute of repose will likely bar the case altogether unless the injured party was under eighteen years of age when the malpractice occurred.
- In this latter situation, the injured person must file the case within the earlier of one year after his or her eighteenth birthday or eight years after the occurrence of the malpractice.
Damages and Related Statutes in Kansas Medical Malpractice Law
Kansas historically possessed an absolute cap on all damages that was ultimately stricken from the state’s laws as being unconstitutional. Currently, noneconomic damages in Kansas medical malpractice cases are limited to $250,000 per injured party against all of the defendants. Jury awards can exceed this amount and judges do not instruct juries to limit their awards, but if a jury award includes an amount greater than $250,000 for noneconomic damages, the judge will reduce that award to remain within the Kansas cap. Further, punitive damages are limited to the lesser of $5 million, or a multiple of the injured party’s gross income over a defined period. Recovery by Injured parties in Kansas medical malpractice cases is also limited by the state’s elimination of joint and several liabilities and its adoption of a modified comparative negligence standard. Liability can also not be extended to a tangentially at-fault party such as a hospital or medical center, as Kansas does not recognize vicarious liability theories.
Verification of Claims Requirements in Kansas Medical Malpractice Claims
The relatively indifferent treatment given to medical malpractice claims by the Kansas statutory law is reflected by the result in Dru had-Nordhus v. Rosenquist, where the court concluded that no causal connection existed between a deceased party’s injury, which resulted in his death, and a radiologist’s misdiagnosis of internal bleeding. The trial court’s strict application of the causation requirement that is present in every negligence case precluded recovery of damages by the injured party’s widow in this instance. In other cases commonly seen, injured parties in Kansas medical malpractice cases may also find themselves before a screening panel that includes three medical providers and a non-voting attorney. Either party or the judge who is hearing the case can refer a given Kansas medical malpractice case to this arbitration panel, whose findings will be included in a case record if the matter ultimately proceeds to a trial.
In this sense, the severe application of rules and standards in Kansas medical malpractice cases creates a greater sense of urgency for injured parties to consult with legal counsel at the earliest possible date. Kansas has established roadblocks that preclude recovery of damages to compensate for malpractice injuries, and injured party should avail him or herself of all assistance to avoid these statutory hurdles to just compensation.
For the text of the Dru had-Nordhus v. Rosenquist case, see:
For the text of the Kelley v. Barnett case, see: