This article will provide an overview of several important personal injury laws in Wyoming. Keep them in mind as you proceed with your injury-related insurance claim or lawsuit.
In every state, a law known as the statute of limitations sets a limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after you suffer some type of loss. There are different time limits for different kinds of cases.
Wyoming's personal injury statute of limitations is more generous than the rule in place in many other states. In Wyoming, a lawsuit must be filed within four years of the date of your injury. The lawsuit does not have to be resolved within that time frame, but it must be initiated before the four-year limit runs out in order to protect your right to seek compensation for your injuries. If you don't get your lawsuit filed in Wyoming's civil court system before the four-year window closes, chances are you'll forever lose your right to have the courts hear your case.
There are special procedures that apply to personal injury claims against the government. For example, if you are involved in an auto accident with a government employee who was on the job, you will need to file a notice of claim with the government. That formal, written notice needs to be filed within two years of the date of injury, under Wyoming law.
Filing a notice of claim differs from filing a lawsuit. A notice of claim is served on the government entity involved, rather than filed in a court. This simply puts the government on notice that you were hurt, and it starts the administrative process. While this is required before a lawsuit involving the government can be filed, it does not foreclose you from filing an actual complaint in court. You must file your lawsuit within one year of filing your notice of claim or it will be time-barred. In essence, if your claim involves the government, the statute of limitations is effectively shortened to three years rather than the usual four.
(You'll find plenty of background information on these kinds of cases in our Injury Claims Against the Government topic.)
You may be wondering what will happen if a jury ultimately decides that you bear some of the blame for your accident. If you are less than 50% (equally) responsible for the accident, you can still recover compensation from other at-fault parties, but the amount of your award will simply be reduced by the level of fault you share. This is Wyoming's shared fault rule (known as the "modified comparative negligence rule" in legalese).
For example, if you are awarded $100,000 in damages after a favorable verdict, but the jury finds you to be 30% at fault for the accident that led to your injuries, you will recover $70,000 rather than the full award. However, if you are 51% or more at fault, you will not be able to recover anything at all.
There is no specific statute in Wyoming governing personal injury liability for dog bites. Owners will be held liable for injuries caused by their dog (or other animal) if the injured party can show that the owner "should have known" the animal was dangerous. This is known as the "one bite" rule.
Wyoming does not impose "caps" or limits on a plaintiff's ability to recover damages. You can seek compensatory damages -- which includes the value of your medical expenses and lost income. It also includes your non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, often a significant component of an injury award.
Wyoming's state constitution specifically prohibits caps on damages. Learn more about types of compensation for an injury claim.