Wyoming Accident Laws and Resources
From Caspar to Cheyenne, there are thousands of miles of varied roadways in the state. The different types of roads here will take you from the bottom of the Rocky Mountains to Big Horn Canyon and into Yellowstone National Park. The roads in Wyoming are used by 400,000 licensed drivers, each of whom average more than 16,000 miles of driving per year. Given the higher than the national average mileage for each driver, it is understandable that there are many accidents. As you drive through Wyoming or make it your home, it is wise to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations of the roads.
Statistics and Notable Accidents
Recent media and government reports indicate that fatal car accidents are on the rise in Wyoming. It was reported that nearly twice as many people were killed on highways in Wyoming in 2014 as 2013. It was noted that oil field traffic and drunk driving were the major causes.
Regarding oil field traffic, it was noted that the weight of the oil carrying vehicles was causing some of the roads to break down, such as Route 789, which was leading to more crashes. Many of these heavily traveled roads to and from the oil fields are not wide enough to handle commercial vehicle traffic.
- In 2015, there were 129 fatal crashes involving impaired drivers in Wyoming, and a total of 52 deaths involving impaired drivers. In 2013, 23% of crashes involved alcohol; this rose by 4% in 2014.
- According to CBS, the deadliest state for teen drivers is Wyoming. More than 35 teenagers per every 100,000 are killed in the state. This is more than 216% higher than the average for adults across the country. The odds of a teen being killed in a car accident in Wyoming is the highest in June.
A recent vehicular homicide case in Wyoming made news across the state. A man in Tunkhannock was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for a DUI crash that killed a 90-year-old woman. He fled the accident scene and was pulled over by the police two hours later. He had a BAC of .12%, which means his blood alcohol content was much higher when the crash happened.
Wyoming Negligence Laws
This is a contributory negligence state. It means if you are in an accident and bear less than 50% of the fault, you can still recover damages for your property damage and injuries. However, your settlement or judgement will be reduced by your degree of fault for the accident. But if you are 51% or more at fault, you cannot recover damages for the accident.
Wyoming is a fault state when it comes to assigning blame for auto accidents. The at fault driver is the person who is personally liable for all the property damages and injuries that are caused in the accident. This means in Wyoming, you have three options for recovering damages:
- File a claim with your own auto insurance company, who then will try to collect damages from the insurance company for the other party.
- File a claim with the auto insurance provider for the other driver.
- Sue the other driver in a personal injury lawsuit.
Wyoming Car Accident Settlement Calculator:
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Wyoming Statute of Limitations
If you are in a car accident in Wyoming, note that you have four years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you file after that, you may have the case dismissed by the court.
However, if you are injured by a government employee who was working at the time, you have only two years from the date of the accident to file suit.
Wyoming Accident Settlement Taxes
In Wyoming and at the federal level, compensation for a personal injury settlement is not generally taxable, but there are exceptions. It is smart to have your case run by a tax professional if you are not certain what parts of your settlement are taxable at the state and/or federal levels.
First of all, your compensation for medical expenses is not taxable at the state or federal level. The only exception would be if you deducted your medical expenses on your tax return in a previous tax year. In this case, you would need to pay taxes on the amount that you deducted.
Next, you may have received compensation for lost income. In most cases, you will need to pay income taxes at the state and federal level on that amount. The IRS will consider this as ordinary income that you would have earned if you have been working, which would have been taxed.
The amount of compensation you receive for pain and suffering may or may not be taxable. If your pain and suffering is from a physical injury, then it is not taxable. But if the injury is not visible, then it will be taxable as income.
In all causes, punitive damage awards are taxable at the state and federal level.
Dram Shop Laws in Wyoming
Note that a licensed alcohol vendor may be held liable in this state if a third party has been injured. This applies of that vendor served alcohol to someone who is underage, and whose intoxication injures another party. Vendors also face limited liability if they serve an adult that is already intoxicated.
Defective Roadway Lawsuits in Wyoming
A money damages award against the Wyoming state government is limited to $250,000 per injured victim and $500,000 per accident.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Wyoming
Like most US states, you are required to carry a certain level of auto insurance. The minimum coverages for Wyoming are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury for each person in an accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury for each person in an accident
- $20,000 in liability for property damage
- $25,000 and $50,000 uninsured motorist coverage for bodily injury
You can waive uninsured motorist coverage in writing if you choose. You also do not have to carry collision and comprehensive insurance. However, if you own a lot of assets or an expensive vehicle, it is recommended to carry more than the minimal requirement insurance.
Other Wyoming Driving Laws
Below are some of the recent laws that have been put in effect covering driving in Wyoming:
- There is a texting and driving ban in effect for all drivers.
- No cell phones at all can be used while driving for beginner drivers.
- As of July 2013, Wyoming drivers only may exceed the posted speed limit by 10 MPH on a two-lane highway to pass vehicles going slower than the speed limit.
- In 2013, the state increased jail time for regular or habitual drunk drivers. Any four-time drunk driver can get up to seven years in state prison.
- The Department of Transportation may charge anyone a $125 fee who must get an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.
Wyoming Car Accident Resources
If you have been in a Wyoming car accident, below are some resources and advice that can help you to get through this stressful time.
- You need to file a Traffic Crash Report in Wyoming if the accident involved a death, serious injury or more than $1000 in property damage.
- If you do not file the report to the Wyoming Department of Transportation, you could be imprisoned for 20 days and face a fine of up to $200.
- If you had a car accident in another state, the laws that you need to follow could vary. Check out the other car accident law state pages at Lawsuit Info Center now.