Wyoming Personal Injury Laws and Statutes of Limitations

Learn all about personal injury claims and lawsuits in Wyoming—statutes of limitations, insurance claims, damages, and more.

By , Attorney University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law
Updated 4/01/2024

You've been injured by someone's carelessness, and you're thinking about a personal injury (PI) claim or lawsuit. Maybe you were rear-ended at a stop sign, or you tripped and fell on a neighbor's poorly maintained sidewalk, or you were hurt by a dangerous product. Before you move forward with your case, you should have a basic understanding of Wyoming's personal injury laws. We'll fill you in on what you need to know.

We begin with the deadlines—called "statutes of limitations"—that limit your time to file a Wyoming PI lawsuit in court. From there, we'll cover some of the special rules that apply if you want to sue Wyoming or a local government, what happens if you're partly to blame for your injuries, whether Wyoming limits the damages you can collect in a PI case, and more.

Wyoming's Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits

Wyoming has several statutes of limitations that apply to PI lawsuits. We start with the state's four-year general rule. Then we'll have a look at some other rules that apply to specific kinds of cases.

Wyoming's General Rule: Four Years to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In most Wyoming personal injury cases, you have four years to sue. (Wyo. Stat. § 1-3-105(a)(iv)(C) (2024).) The four-year clock usually starts running on the date you're injured. This deadline applies to a wide range of PI claims, including lawsuits involving:

Other Limitations for Specific Kinds of Cases

Wyoming's four-year general rule doesn't apply in all PI cases. When there's another statute of limitations that's a better fit for a specific kind of case, that rule probably controls. Here are a few examples.

Intentional torts. When someone acts deliberately to harm you, the law calls it an "intentional tort." In Wyoming, these intentional torts are covered by a one year statute of limitations:

(Wyo. Stat. § 1-3-105(a)(v) (2024).)

Medical malpractice. Special rules apply to medical malpractice lawsuits. In most cases, you must file within two years from the date the malpractice happens. What if you don't discover the malpractice right away? Wyoming's "discovery rule" lets you sue within two years of the date you discover the malpractice if:

  • you couldn't reasonably discover it within two years from the date it happened, or
  • you didn't discover it within two years after it happened, even though you diligently looked for signs and symptoms.

(Wyo. Stat. § 1-3-107(a) (2024).)

Injuries causing death. When injuries result in death, surviving family members might decide to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. The filing deadline is two years from the date of death. (Wyo. Stat. § 1-38-102(d) (2024).)

Can the Deadline Be Extended?

Sometimes, yes, Wyoming law allows a statute of limitations deadline to be extended. Keep in mind that these are exceptions to the case-filing deadline rules. If you're planning to rely on one of them, it's up to you to convince the court that it applies.

The discovery rule. Generally speaking, the limitation clock starts running on the date you're injured. But what if you don't know right away you've been hurt? Should that happen, Wyoming's discovery rule—mentioned above in connection with medical malpractice cases—might give you more time to file your case.

To take advantage of the discovery rule, you'll need to show that:

  • you didn't know you were injured in time to file your case before the statute of limitations ran out, and
  • you couldn't have discovered your injury in time, even if you were reasonably careful to look for it.

When the discovery rule applies—and importantly, it doesn't apply in all PI cases—the limitation clock won't start on the date you were injured. Instead, it runs from the earlier of:

  • the date you discovered your injury, or
  • the date you had enough facts that you should have discovered it, had you been reasonably careful.

Expect the defendant (the party you're suing) to put up a vigorous fight if you claim the discovery rule applies. That's not a battle you want to face alone. Hire experienced legal counsel to represent you and make your argument to the court.

Defendant leaves Wyoming or goes into hiding. The statute of limitations doesn't run during any period when the defendant leaves Wyoming or goes into hiding. (Wyo. Stat. § 1-3-116 (2023).) The Wyoming Supreme Court has interpreted this rule so that it only applies when:

(See Tarter v. Insco, 550 P.2d 905 (Wyo. 1976).)

Minors and people with legal disabilities. A minor or legally disabled person can't manage their own legal affairs—file a lawsuit, for example—without assistance from a parent or legal guardian. For this reason, the statute of limitations doesn't start running right away when they're injured. Instead, they must sue within the later of:

  • the applicable statute of limitations, or
  • three years after turning 18 or no longer being legally disabled.

(Wyo. Stat. § 1-3-114 (2024).)

Suing the Government in Wyoming

Suing Wyoming or a local government like a city, county, or school board involves a two-part process. First, you must file a notice of claim with the government you want to sue. Second, you have to file a lawsuit against the government within a special statute of limitations.

Filing the claim. You can't file a lawsuit against the government unless you first send a written notice of your claim within two years from the date you were injured. The claim notice statute is very particular about what the claim must include and how it's to be delivered. (Wyo. Stat. § 1-39-113 (2023).)

Filing a lawsuit. Filing your claim with the government isn't the same thing as filing a lawsuit in court. After you've filed your claim, if you still want to sue the government you have to file a complaint in court. Your complaint must be filed within one year after you filed your claim with the government. (Wyo. Stat. §§ 1-39-114, 1-39-113(d) (2024).)

When your claim is against the government, it's easy to make an error that can cost you the right to recover payment for your injuries. A government claims attorney will know about the special rules and procedures that apply to your claim.

Comparative Negligence: When You're Partly to Blame

In a typical personal injury case, to collect compensation for your injuries (what the law calls "damages"), you must prove that the defendant's negligence caused the accident. Quite often, the defendant will claim that you, too, were negligent and that your negligence should reduce or eliminate the damages you can collect.

This is a legal defense called "comparative negligence," and a version of it is available under Wyoming law. Specifically, Wyoming has adopted a "modified" comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, you can collect some damages for your injuries even if you were partly to blame. Your damages are simply reduced by your share of the total negligence. But if you're found mostly to blame—meaning more than 50% negligent—you can't collect any damages at all. (Wyo. Stat. § 1-1-109(b) (2024).)

Does Wyoming Limit Personal Injury Damages?

In a word: No.

Many states have limits—called "caps"—on damages in PI cases. Wyoming isn't one of those states. The Wyoming Constitution prohibits the state from "limiting the amount of damages to be recovered for causing the injury or death of any person." (Wyo. Const. art. 10, § 4(a) (2024).)

Wyoming Auto Insurance Requirements

Wyoming is a fault-based auto insurance state. What happens if you cause an auto accident that injures others? Under Wyoming's financial responsibility law, drivers must be able to pay for at least some of the injuries and damages they cause. Most drivers comply with the law by purchasing an auto liability insurance policy.

Under Wyo. Stat. § 31-9-405(b)(ii) (2024), every auto liability policy issued in Wyoming must have minimum coverage limits of at least:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to, or the death of, one person in one accident
  • $50,000 for bodily injuries to, or the deaths of, two or more persons in one accident, and
  • $20,000 for property damages in one accident.

These are the minimum coverages required by Wyoming law. You're responsible for all damages you cause whether you have liability insurance to pay for them or not. Talk to your insurance agent about whether it makes sense to carry more coverage than what state law requires.

How Is a Wyoming Personal Injury Lawsuit Started?

Unless you're filing a case in Wyoming's small claims court, you'll want a lawyer to take care of preparing, filing, and handling your PI lawsuit. In addition to Wyoming law, your case will be governed by Wyoming's Rules of Civil Procedure. These rules are technical and can be difficult to understand and apply. Chances are you're not familiar with them. The time to learn isn't while you're trying to handle your own court case.

Your lawyer will know the rules and what they require. Here's a quick overview of what's involved.

File in the Proper Court

Most personal injury cases are filed in one of Wyoming's district courts. These courts are authorized to hear all large personal injury cases, where the plaintiff—the party who's bringing the case—asks for damages of more than $50,000. If the plaintiff is asking for damages of $50,000 or less, they must file their case in a Wyoming circuit court. (Wyo. Stat. § 5-9-128(a)(i) (2024).) Small claims cases are heard in the circuit court. The most you can ask for in a small claims case is $6,000.

Your lawyer must file your case in the correct venue, or location. A Wyoming PI case can be filed in the county where you were injured or where the defendant lives. (Wyo. Stat. § 1-5-109 (2024).) When the defendant is a Wyoming corporation, your lawyer can also file in the county where the corporation has its principal office or place of business. (Wyo. Stat. § 1-5-105 (2024).) When the defendant isn't a Wyoming resident individual or corporation, you have the option to sue in the county where you live. (Wyo. Stat. § 1-5-107 (2024).)

Filing and Serving the Complaint

The document that starts your lawsuit is called a complaint. Its contents will depend on the kind of PI case you have, but in general the complaint will describe:

  • the parties involved in the case
  • when, where, and how you were injured
  • your injuries and losses
  • what you claim the defendant did wrong to cause your injuries and losses, and
  • the relief (usually money damages) you want the court to award you.

Once the complaint has been filed in the proper court, your lawyer will arrange to have it served on—formally delivered to—the defendant. If a defendant isn't served as required by Wyoming law, they can ask the court to dismiss them from the case.

Get Help With Your Personal Injury Case

Can you handle a personal injury claim without a lawyer? If the facts are simple and undisputed, your injuries are minor, and there aren't any complicated legal issues involved, you might be able to get a fair settlement on your own. Unfortunately, that doesn't describe most PI claims.

When the facts are contested, your injuries are moderate or severe, or the case involves thorny legal issues like the statute of limitations or your comparative negligence, you'll want experienced legal help in your corner. A Wyoming PI lawyer knows how to investigate, prepare, and negotiate your claim. If the case doesn't settle, they're ready to take it to court.

When it's time to move forward with your case, here's how to find a lawyer in your area.

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