Personal injury is a legal category of tort law, which includes any type of injury. A personal injury claim consists of a physical injury caused by the negligent or unlawful conduct of another that results in compensable damages. Examples of personal injury claims include motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability and product defect or liability.
Each claim, though, does not necessarily have to proceed through a court procedure, but does have to meet the laws and requirements imposed by state law regarding proof of liability and damages. In some cases, there are complicated rules and laws that determine the proper venue and jurisdiction for your claim, especially in diversity, multidistrict and interstate matters.
In What Jurisdiction Will I File My Claim?
You generally are required to file your injury claim in the Wyoming district or circuit court where the injury occurred or where the defendant is living. District courts in Wyoming have jurisdiction over any injury case valued at more than $50,000.
Smaller cases are heard in the circuit courts, which have civil jurisdiction over cases up to $50,000. There is small claims division in the circuit where your recovery is limited to $5,000. The advantage of small claims court is that your case is heard quickly before a judge.
The Statute of Limitations for Wyoming
Any personal injury claim must be resolved or be filed within a limited time, or you may have squandered your right to recover any alleged damages. The majority of personal injury cases are required to be filed in the appropriate Wyoming court within four years of the date of the injury or negligent act.
Medical malpractice and wrongful death claims, however, must be filed within two years of the alleged negligent act or when the conduct that led to the fatality or injury was discovered or, by operation of the discovery rule, should have been discovered through reasonable diligence. Product liability or defect cases have filing deadlines of four years under the discovery rule.
Minors, or those under 18, must file their claims by their 18th birthday or two years after the negligence is discovered.
For lawsuits against the state or political subdivision, you must present a notice of claim within two years of the alleged negligent or wrongful act as a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit within one year of the written notice.
Is Wyoming a Comparative Fault State?
To maintain an injury claim in Wyoming, your own degree of comparative fault cannot exceed 50 percent. If a judge or jury determines that your percentage of fault is 51 percent or more, you are prohibited from collecting any compensation. If your comparative fault is 50 percent or less, your damages are decreased proportionately.
What is the Discovery Process?
Discovery—or the formal exchange of documents, the submission of interrogatories and the taking of depositions—are an essential part of any personal injury lawsuit. Interrogatories are written questions that each side may send to the other regarding the facts of the accident, employment and insurance information. A documents request asks for records supporting your damages, including traffic accident reports, medical records and bills.
Discovery also includes your having to submit to a physical or mental examination since you are placing these into issue. The examining physician is chosen by the defense attorney.
Consider a Personal Injury Lawyer
Many personal injury cases involve complex issues of liability, insurance, evidence and proof of damages. Speak to a Wyoming personal injury lawyer about how to handle your particular case.