Kansas Personal Injury Laws and Statutes of Limitations

An introduction to the basic rules that cover your Kansas personal injury lawsuit, including the deadlines to file your case in court, how your lawsuit will be filed, what happens if you're partly to blame, limits on your damages, and more.

By , Attorney · University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law

Your Kansas personal injury (PI) case is governed by a maze of state laws and court rules. The good news is that your lawyer—yes, if you're planning to file a PI lawsuit, you almost certainly should have a lawyer—knows what to do. Even so, you'd probably like to understand some of the basics.

Starting with the filing deadlines for Kansas PI cases, we'll tell you what you need to know. We also explain where and how your lawsuit will be filed, what happens if you're partly to blame for your injuries, the limits Kansas law puts on the compensation (called "damages") you're allowed to collect, and much more.

Kansas Personal Injury Lawsuit Filing Deadlines

A "statute of limitations" is a law that puts a deadline on your time to file a lawsuit in court. Kansas has several of them that apply to personal injury cases. We start with the two-year general rule. Then we'll cover some other deadlines that apply in particular kinds of PI cases.

Kansas' General Rule: Two Years From the Date of Injury

As a general rule, you have two years to file a Kansas personal injury lawsuit. (Kan. Stat. § 60-513(a)(4) (2024).) This two-year deadline applies to lawsuits involving:

(Learn more about Kansas medical malpractice and wrongful death laws.)

When Does the Statute of Limitations Start to Run?

The limitation clock usually starts to run on the date you're injured, as long as you're aware that you've been hurt. (Kan. Stat. § 60-513(b) (2024).) The clock on your malpractice claim runs from the date the malpractice occurs—provided, once again, that you're aware of your injury when it happens. (Kan. Stat. § 60-513(c) (2024).)

The Discovery Rule

What happens if you don't know right away that you're injured? It might sound far-fetched, but consider this example. You have abdominal surgery on June 1, 2021. During the operation, your surgeon accidentally leaves a surgical sponge inside you. On August 15, 2023, you see your family doctor for complaints of abdominal pain. The doctor orders an X-ray that day, revealing the leftover sponge.

Through no fault of your own, by the time you discover your injury the two-year filing deadline has already run out. To avoid this unfair result, Kansas has adopted the "discovery rule," which might give you extra time to file your lawsuit. Here's how it works.

When the discovery rule applies. The discovery rule applies when the fact that you've been injured isn't "reasonably ascertainable." (See Kan. Stat. § 60-513(b)-(c) (2024).) This generally means you couldn't have known right away that you were hurt, even if you were being reasonably careful to look for the signs and symptoms of an injury.

What the discovery rule does. When the discovery rule applies, the lawsuit-filing deadline doesn't begin running on the date you're injured. Instead, it starts on the date your injury becomes "ascertainable" through the use of reasonable care. Simply stated, the discovery rule pauses the running of the statute of limitations until you discover your injury.

But there's a catch. Kansas law puts a deadline on the time you have to discover your injury. This deadline is called a "statute of repose." In medical malpractice cases, the statute of repose deadline is four years from the date of the malpractice. In all other personal injury cases, the statute of repose is 10 years from the date of the act or event that caused an injury or death.

What does the statute of repose do? The statute of repose clock runs regardless of whether you've discovered your injury. In other words, when the statute of repose deadline expires—if there's no exception that gives you more time—your lawsuit is time barred even if you never discovered your injury.

Note that special rules might apply when you're injured by a dangerous product. (See Kan. Stat. § 60-3303 (2024).)

Different Statutes of Limitations in Specific Cases

The Kansas two-year general rule doesn't apply in every personal injury case. Be on the lookout for more specific statutes of limitations that are a closer fit for your kind of case. Here are a couple of examples.

Intentional torts. Most PI cases involve a claim that the person who injured you acted negligently, meaning carelessly. When someone injures you deliberately or on purpose, the law calls that an "intentional tort." Kansas law gives you just one year from the date you're injured to file a lawsuit for these intentional torts:

(Kan. Stat. § 60-514 (2023).)

No-fault auto insurance claim and lawsuit deadlines. Kansas is a no-fault auto insurance state. When you're injured in a wreck—regardless of who was to blame—at least part of your medical bills, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket costs will be covered by your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. You must bring a claim for PIP benefits within two years from the date of your injury. (Kan. Stat. § 40-3110(a) (2024).)

You're allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver when your injuries satisfy one of Kansas' "tort thresholds." (See Kan. Stat. § 40-3117 (2024).) You have 18 months after the date of the accident to sue. If you don't, your failure acts as an assignment to your PIP insurer of your right to sue. (Kan. Stat. § 40-3113a(c) (2024).)

(Learn more about Kansas auto insurance laws.)

Can the Lawsuit Filing Deadline Be Extended?

In addition to the discovery rule, discussed above, there are situations when Kansas law extends the lawsuit filing deadline. Here are two common examples.

People with a legal disability. The statute of limitations doesn't run or it's temporarily paused when:

  • a person with a legal disability is injured, or
  • a person who's been injured later suffers a legal disability.
For purposes of this law, a legally disabled person is someone who's:
  • a minor (younger than 18 years old)
  • "incapacitated," or
  • imprisoned for less than a term of life and without access to the courts to file suit.

A legally disabled person must file suit within the earlier of:

  • one year from the date the disability is removed, or
  • eight years from the date of the act that caused their injury.

(Kan. Stat. § 60-515(a) (2024).)

Defendant leaves Kansas or goes into hiding. The statute of limitations doesn't run while the person you're suing (the "defendant") is outside of Kansas or is hiding and you're unable to serve them with your lawsuit. The clock starts (or resumes) running when the defendant returns to Kansas or comes out of hiding. (Kan. Stat. § 60-517 (2024).)

Suing the State or a Municipal Government

When you've been injured by a government employee—state or municipal—one of the first calls you make should be to an experienced government claims lawyer. Suing the government isn't like suing a private person or a business. Oftentimes, you need to follow special rules and procedures. And even if you win, the compensation you're allowed to collect (called "damages") is probably going to be limited.

The special rules you must follow in Kansas are found in Kan. Stat. Chapter 12, Article 1 (claims against Kansas municipalities) and Kan. Stat. Chapter 75, Article 61 (claims against state or municipalities).

Special Notice Requirements

Before you can file a personal injury lawsuit against a Kansas municipality (as defined in Kan. Stat. § 12-105a(a) (2024)), you must provide written notice of your claim to the clerk or governing body of the municipality. Your notice must include the information required by Kan. Stat. § 12-105b(d) (2024). Note, importantly, that giving notice of your claim isn't the same as filing a lawsuit in court.

Once you send your notice, you can't file a lawsuit until the first of these to happen:

  • the municipality completely or partially denies your claim, or
  • 120 days pass and the municipality fails to act on your claim, meaning it's treated as having been denied.

There aren't any special notice requirements if your lawsuit is against the state.

The Statute of Limitations

The two-year general rule, described above, applies to lawsuits against Kansas or a Kansas municipality. When you're suing a municipality and your notice of claim is denied within 90 days of the expiration of the statute of limitations, you've got 90 days from the date of denial to file your case in court.

Limits on Damages You Can Collect

In a lawsuit against Kansas or a Kansas municipality, you're not allowed to collect more than $500,000 in damages. Punitive damages—damages meant to punish a wrongdoer for extreme or outrageous misconduct—typically aren't allowed. (Kan. Stat. § 75-6105 (2024).)

What If You're Partly to Blame for the Accident?

To collect damages in most PI cases, you need to prove that the defendant was negligent. Quite often, the defendant will claim that you were negligent too, and that your negligence should reduce or eliminate your damages. This is a legal defense called "comparative negligence." Kansas has adopted a version of it.

Kansas Is a "Modified Comparative Negligence" State

Kansas has adopted a "modified comparative negligence" rule. If you're partly to blame for an accident but your percentage share of the negligence is less than 50% of the total, you can still recover some damages for your injuries. Your percentage share of the blame simply reduces the damages you get by that amount. When you're 50% or more to blame, you can't collect any damages. (Kan. Stat. § 60-258a(a) (2024).)

Example: Kansas Modified Comparative Negligence

You were shopping in the grocery store. Because your attention was focused on the shelves, you didn't see a broken floor tile in your path. You tripped and fell on the tile, badly injuring your knee. You sued the grocery store for negligence. The store raised your comparative negligence as a defense.

After a trial, the jury found your total damages were $60,000 and assigned 80% of the negligence to the store. But the jurors found you 20% to blame. How much of your total damages can you collect?

Because you were 20% at fault, you can collect 80% of your total damages: $60,000 x 80% = $48,000. What would be the outcome had the jury found you were 50% (or more) to blame? Under Kansas' modified comparative negligence rule, you'd collect zero damages.

Kansas Limits the Damages You Can Collect in Personal Injury Cases

Kansas has enacted limits, sometimes called "caps," on certain personal injury damages. Specifically, Kan. Stat. § 60-19a02(b) (2024) caps per-person noneconomic damages—for injuries like emotional distress, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and the like—at:

  • $325,000 for cases arising on or after July 1, 2018 and before July 1, 2022, and
  • $350,000 for cases arising on or after July 1, 2022.

The jury can't be told about these caps. (Kan. Stat. § 60-19a02(d) (2024).)

How to File a Kansas Personal Injury Lawsuit

Your lawyer will take care of preparing, filing, and handling your PI lawsuit. Here's a quick overview of the process.

The Kansas court where most cases begin is called the district court. That's where your lawyer will file your lawsuit. Kansas' venue rules tell you the county in which to file. If you're suing a person who lives in Kansas, for example, your lawyer likely will file in the county where the defendant lives or where the accident that caused your injury happened. (Kan. Stat. § 60-603 (2024).)

Your PI lawsuit starts by filing in the district court a document called a "petition." (Kan. Stat. § 60-203(a) (2024).) In separately numbered paragraphs, your petition will describe:

  • the parties involved in the case
  • when, where, and how the accident or event that caused your injuries happened
  • your injuries
  • what the defendant did wrong that caused your injuries, and
  • the relief (normally money damages) you want the court to grant you.

Once your lawyer files the petition, there's more work to be done. Each defendant must be served with a copy of the petition and a summons—an order directing the defendant to appear in court and defend the case. Any defendant who isn't correctly and timely served can ask the court to be dismissed from the case.

Get Help With Your Kansas Personal Injury Case

We've covered some of the basic Kansas PI laws that will control your case. Your lawyer will be well-versed in these laws and more, including the court rules that will also apply. When you're ready to move forward with your lawsuit, here's how to find an attorney in your area who's right for you.

Make the Most of Your Claim
Get the compensation you deserve.
We've helped 285 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you