How Do I Report a Car Accident in Wyoming?
Immediately after an accident, your priorities should be helping anyone who is injured and preventing another accident. If your car is still on the road and is in drivable condition, pull off the road so there won’t be an obstacle for other cars. If you can’t move the car, turn on your flashers to warn other drivers.
How To Report a Car Accident in Wyoming
Wyoming law requires you to report any accident that causes injury or death or apparent property damage of at least $1,000. If your accident happens inside city limits, you can call the local police department’s non-emergency line. Outside of the city limits, you can report your accident to the state highway patrol or county sheriff. If anyone involved in the accident is hurt and needs an ambulance, call 911.
What Else Should You Do After a Car Accident?
Check yourself and your passengers for any injuries. If everyone is okay and you can safely exit the car, approach the other vehicle and check on the occupants. Call for an ambulance if needed, and follow the 911 operator’s instructions for helping the injured.
When no one needs assistance, you should exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. Try to be polite and avoid getting into an argument about whose fault it was. Many people have inadvertently said something at an accident scene that the insurance company later used to deny their claim.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts at amicability, the other driver is angry and wants a fight. It can be frustrating but don’t engage. If necessary, return to your car and wait for the police to arrive.
If you’re uninjured, we recommend taking pictures of the accident scene and any damage to your car because these photos may be helpful in seeking compensation for your damages. Additionally, getting the name and contact info of any other witnesses you see at the scene is a good idea.
Give a Statement
When the police arrive, they will ask for your ID, proof of insurance, and other necessary information, then inquire about what happened. Respond to their questions honestly, but try not to give your opinion about fault. You may not have the complete picture of what happened to cause the accident, and a surprising number of people think they are at fault when they aren’t.
The police report will usually be finished within 1-2 weeks. To get a copy of your report, follow the instructions on the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s page.
Seek Medical Attention for Any Injuries
This is still good advice if you feel fine immediately after the crash but begin having pain later. A scary experience like an accident causes your body to release adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone. Among other functions, adrenaline helps temporarily suppress pain, so you might not notice some of your injuries at first. At the same time, as your body starts the healing process, the injured area may become swollen and inflamed, causing more pain. If you thought you were uninjured after your accident but woke up the following day in pain, see a doctor as soon as possible and let them know about your accident.
Get Legal Advice Before Making Any Decisions
A common mistake people make after accidents is thinking they don’t need to talk to a lawyer. There are a lot of reasons for this:
- “The other party promised to take care of the repairs/damages.” Great! You should speak with a lawyer to be sure you know all your damages. Many people don’t realize until later that they had expenses they didn’t account for. Additionally, some people who promise to pay for repairs change their minds when they see the bill. If this occurs, your lawyer can help you pursue compensation from the other party or their insurance carrier.
- “I already received an offer from the other driver’s insurance company.” Before accepting any offer from an insurance company, you should review it with an attorney – especially if you received an offer relatively quickly. Often a fast offer seriously undervalues your damages, and if you accept it, the insurance company has no further obligation when you realize you have other costs.
- “I think the accident was partly my fault.” A lawyer can also help you with this. Even if you had some fault in an accident, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t collect damages. Wyoming uses modified comparative negligence statutes, which allow you to receive compensation if you were less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. Aside from your own damages, you may also need to consider that the other driver could seek compensation from you. There’s no reason why you and your insurance company should end up paying for the other driver’s damages if they were mostly at fault.
More About Fault and Recovering Damages
In most cases, the insurance companies will determine who pays for what. They can do so without your lawyer’s input, but this will likely result in a smaller payout for you. Insurance adjusters have a laundry list of reasons for not paying claims or undervaluing them:
- They might claim you were all or partly at fault. Remember that under modified comparative negligence, you can collect damages unless you are more than 50 responsible for the accident, so it’s common for insurance adjusters to claim the injured party is primarily at fault.
- In cases where claiming you’re mostly responsible isn’t a good option, they can still argue you had some fault to reduce their liability. Modified comparative negligence also calls for deducting the injured party’s percentage of responsibility from the final award. If you had $30,000 in damages and were found to be 20 percent at fault, you might only receive $24,000, and the insurance company would save $6,000.
- They might decide that some of your medical expenses were “unnecessary.”
- They could comb through the policy and look for other reasons why this particular claim is excluded.
How Can You Protect Your Right to Seek Compensation After a Car Accident in Wyoming?
Speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident, preferably before filing your insurance claim. An attorney can help you file the forms and avoid pitfalls that might complicate your claim. However, if you’ve already filed a claim, we can still help you if the insurance company makes an offer or denies your claim.
What Kind of Damages Are Available After a Car Accident?
It depends on the specific losses you suffered due to the accident. Your attorney will talk with you and thoroughly list all your damages, then help you come up with a reasonable amount of compensation for them. Potential damages include the following:
- Medical bills. It’s helpful to collect all your current bills for your lawyer. They will ask if you’re still in treatment or have fully recovered. If you need further care, your attorney may estimate your future costs or wait until your treatment is finished to ensure no expenses are left uncounted. Additionally, they will ask about expenses related to your medical care that many people forget about – travel costs to see a specialist, equipment for physical therapy, mobility aids like crutches or a wheelchair, paying someone to help with household tasks you can no longer do yourself, etc.
- Lost income or earning potential. List any time you missed at work because of your injuries. It doesn’t matter if you used PTO or other paid time off; you still deserve compensation for those lost days. What if you suffered a permanent injury and can’t return to work at all or can’t do the same type of work? You could seek compensation for lost earning potential.
- Property damage. Get an estimate for your car repairs and any other property that was damaged in the crash (such as a laptop or phone that was in the car).
- Pain and suffering. You also deserve compensation for both your physical and mental pain associated with the accident.
- Wrongful death. If you lost a loved one in a car accident, you can seek damages for funeral and burial costs, loss of consortium or companionship, loss of financial support if your loved one was the primary earner, and medical costs related to their fatal injuries.
How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Wyoming?
That statute of limitations is four years or two years for a wrongful death case, but we don’t recommend waiting any longer than necessary. The other party may be busy filing a claim with your insurance company. At the same time, we will be better able to gather evidence in your case if you call us sooner rather than later.
Get Help with Your Wyoming Car Accident Case
Attorney Sean Olson has been helping accident victims through the Olson Law Firm since 2011. He gets to know every client personally and, with the help of the firm’s experienced staff members, fights for their rights to compensation. If you’ve been in a car accident, please contact the Olson Law Firm for a free consultation on your case.