Personal injury law is a field of civil law dedicated to compensating plaintiffs who have been hurt or injured due to the actions or omissions of others. It is also referred to as a tort action and is typically between private parties. It is often founded on negligence, where a defendant causes harm to the claimant due to a lack of care or diligence required at the moment.
In Wyoming, personal injuries cover many incidents, ranging from car and truck accidents to dog attacks and medical malpractice.
Motor Vehicle Accident Laws in Wyoming
Vehicle drivers in Wyoming owe a duty of diligence to fellow users of the road. There is an obligation to take all reasonable measures to prevent accidents, ranging from following traffic rules to staying sober behind the wheel. It is easy for a motor vehicle case to escalate into a criminal one, especially if recklessness or intoxication is a factor.
Whenever an accident happens, there is a duty to stop if death or personal injuries ensue. The perpetrator has to remain at the scene or as close as possible to aid the injured and give information about the incident to the responding authorities and the victim. There is a duty to report the incident if people are harmed or killed or if there is property damage amounting to $1,000.
Wyoming is an at-fault state when it comes to recovering damages from a car accident insurance plan. The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant was to blame for an accident before claiming money. Before a vehicle can operate on the road, it has to meet these mandatory minimum coverage levels:
$25,000 for death or bodily injury to one person hurt by the owner or driver,
$50,000 maximum if there is death or bodily injury to more than one person,
$20,000 for property damage.
Driving without insurance in the state is a criminal offense. It is punishable by a fine of up to $1,500 and jail time of up to six months.
Dog Bite Laws in Wyoming
Bases for Liability
Liability for dog bites in Wyoming is founded mostly on jurisprudence though the rules on quarantine are in the state statute. Dog bite cases have three potential bases: the owner knew that the dog had a propensity for vicious behavior, negligence per se, or negligence. The state applies the scienter standard, which requires this knowledge before liability attaches. Thus, it has been said that it is difficult to win a dog bite case in the jurisdiction and that there is a one-bite rule. There is, in fact, no such thing in the law books as a one-bite rule; it just so happens that a single bite is what gives the animal’s custodian knowledge that the pooch is dangerous.
Negligence per se exists when a person can be automatically considered negligent because they were violating animal control laws. An example is leash laws: keeping an animal unrestrained gives rise to a cause of action because of automatic negligence.
Negligence exists independently of any prior knowledge that the animal was vicious. Letting a stray dog inside a school is negligent behavior, regardless of knowledge of prior violence.
Dog owners are covered by section 11-31-301, subsection D of the 2010 Wyoming Statutes. It calls for the impoundment of any animal that has bitten or viciously attacked any person. The quarantine period will be for 10 days, which will be completed at home if the dog has been duly vaccinated, or at the pound if there is no up-to-date vaccine certificate.
Medical Malpractice Laws in Wyoming
Basics: Burden of Proof
The plaintiff in a medical malpractice case has to show that there was a failure to meet the minimum standard of care by a certified healthcare professional or that a non-certified party also failed to meet the same standard followed by health workers. A consequence is that expert witnesses are needed to demonstrate the minimum standards and how they were violated. The expert needs the requisite education and experience in the field to build up the credibility that judges and juries will look for.
Repeal of Medical Panel Laws
There is no need to submit a medical malpractice case to the medical review panel since July 1, 2022. Medical malpractice suits used to be submitted to a review panel before going to court. This requirement was instituted to prevent unmeritorious cases from being filed. After the repeal, all current cases already with the medical review panel will continue until decided. The immediate effect of the repeal is on new cases.
Comparative Negligence in Wyoming
Comparative negligence on the part of the plaintiff will not prevent recovery in a personal injury case filed in Wyoming, which has been the status quo for over five decades. The Wyoming Statutes state that contributory fault will not bar compensation in a plea for damages over a personal injury or wrongful death. The caveat is that the claimant’s share in the fault cannot exceed 50%. In layman’s terms, the plaintiff and defendant can be equally at fault, but the former cannot be more culpable than the latter. The damages thus awarded will be reduced in proportion to the fault shared by the claimant, meaning, for example, that one who is 50% at fault will only receive 50% of the amount hoped for.
Wyoming Business Liability Insurance Requirements
Wyoming employers must apply for workers’ compensation insurance coverage before commencing business. This applies whether a venture wishes to work in or hire anyone from the state. Compliance has to be registered with the Division of Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Insurance. The state’s policy is to ensure that every laborer will be compensated for injuries sustained while on the job and to minimize the hassles of getting duly treated.
The business registration process is possible online at wyui.wyo.gov. After registration, proof of compliance or coverage may be requested from firstname.lastname@example.org. If the commercial venture also operates motor vehicles, the car accident liability coverage rules mentioned previously are applicable.
How Much Can Someone Sue for an Injury in Wyoming?
Personal injury claimants in Wyoming may claim economic and non-economic damages following an incident. The former refers to tangible losses, while the latter refers to intangible losses.
The tangible losses compensable under economic damages include any harm that can be quantified through the use of receipts or similar documentation. These range from the costs of medical treatment and property repair to the renovation of a home to make it more hospitable for a disabled victim.
Intangible losses include pain and suffering, humiliation, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment. These are harder to quantify, and the court uses multipliers and factors to decide how much to award. These include the severity of the injuries, the permanence of the effects, and the extent of treatment needed in the future.
Punitive damages are designed to punish instances where the defendant acted maliciously or in a manner that is grossly reckless, oppressive, or violent. These are permissible in personal injury suits within the state.
There is generally no statutory limit on the amount of damages recoverable in a civil tort case. This constitutional mandate covers every class of damages, including punitive.
The Statute of Limitations in Wyoming
A personal injury plaintiff in Wyoming generally has to file suit within four years of an incident. This refers to the time it takes for the matter to take the court and does not indicate how much time the court has to resolve the case. The public policy recognizes that plaintiffs should not have boundless time to go to court, as evidence may degrade over time and leave the defendant without defenses.
Wrongful death claims in Wyoming do not follow the four-year rule and must be brought to court within two years of the victim’s passing.
For medical malpractice claims, the time limit is likewise two years instead of four years. This is tempered somewhat by the repeal of the medical review panel requirement.
Legal Resources for Injured Folks in Wyoming
Personal injury law is a complicated field, and its topics and nuances are too extensive for this article to discuss completely. Interested readers may check out the following resources for their enrichment:
This web page discusses the essentials of personal injury law on a single page. It is a basic outline of civil torts and a starting point for further research. The site has a quick summary of topics, ranging from basic elements of negligence to specific causes of action, but does not go into excessive detail.
This website offers an introductory discussion of the general issues surrounding personal injury law and high-level explanations of concepts that regular readers will find digestible. The language has been simplified so that those without legal training can understand the content and make informed decisions. It covers topics ranging from the basic foundations of civil torts to specific types, such as product liability and medical malpractice. The presentation is akin to a dictionary, where each topic covers half a page or less and is written in the form of a basic definition with minimal discussion.
This is a straight copy of the Wyoming Statute, which covers the basis for civil law in the state. It is a primary source and is a repetition of the black-letter law covering every aspect of life and existence in the jurisdiction. Criminal statutes are also covered, and readers may locate instances where a civil tort has a criminal aspect, like in cases of drunk or reckless driving. While the text is complicated to read, it is laid out in a clean and presentable manner. Downloads are also encouraged, as every title is formatted in PDF form.
This website allows readers to ask civil-law-related questions, including those relating to health, disability, and civil rights, which may have a tort-related component. While lawyers in the state usually work on a contingency basis and charge no fees upfront, potential plaintiffs may still use this web page to conduct preliminary research before formally meeting with the attorney.
This page discusses the fundamentals behind the workers’ compensation coverage required by the state. It teaches businesses what they need to do and how to comply with the requirements of the law. Readers may use this resource to brush up on topics ranging from obtaining proof of compliance to the extraterritorial implications of state insurance laws.
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