Personal Injury

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Wyoming?

By David Goguen, J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law
Here's how the Wyoming personal injury statute of limitations works, and why compliance with the filing deadline is so crucial to your potential claim.

If you're thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit in Wyoming, it's very important to understand the statute of limitations and how it applies to your potential case. If you miss the filing deadline set by this law, you're almost certain to lose your right to any legal remedy against the person who caused your accident. Read on for the details on this law, and exceptions that could extend the filing deadline.

You Have Four Years to File Most Personal Injury Lawsuits in Wyoming

Wyoming Statutes Annotated section 1-3-105 gives you four years to ask the state's courts for a civil remedy for any injury you suffer as a result of someone else's action.

So, whether it's based on a car accident, a slip and fall, or any other kind of mishap, if you want to file a personal injury lawsuit of any kind in Wyoming, you need to get the initial paperwork -- including the personal injury complaint -- filed in court within four years. The "clock" starts running on the date of the underlying incident (unless an exception to the standard deadline applies; more on these later). (More: Common Kinds of Personal Injury Claims.)

Why Does This Deadline Matter?

It’s critical that you be aware of Wyoming's four-year deadline as it applies to your potential personal injury lawsuit. With rare exceptions (discussed below), if you miss the deadline, you will no longer have the right to sue the at-fault party and ask the court to award you damages for your injuries and other losses, no matter how badly you were hurt or how egregious the at-fault party's conduct.

Even if there’s a strong possibility that your case will settle outside of court (which is very common with personal injury claims) the threat of a looming lawsuit can be very useful in settlement negotiations. But if you’ve missed the statute of limitations deadline, and the other side knows it, you will have lost all of your bargaining power.

Exceptions to the Standard Wyoming Statute of Limitations

In certain situations, the Wyoming personal injury statute of limitations "clock" won't start running on the date of the accident, or the circumstances might pause the running of the clock after it has already started, effectively extending the filing deadline.
For example, special rules usually apply if, at the time of the underlying accident, the injured person is under the age of 18 or is subject to any other "legal disability" (they have been deemed mentally incompetent, for example). In those situations, once the period of disability ends -- the injured person turns 18 or is declared competent, for example -- he or she will have the full four years to get a civil lawsuit filed over the accident. This rule can be found at Wyoming Statutes Annotated section 1-3-114.
Also, if the person responsible for the plaintiff's injuries (the defendant) is absent from the state of Wyoming -- or takes steps to conceal him/herself within the state -- at some point after the underlying accident, but before the lawsuit can be filed, the period of absence or concealment probably won't be counted as part of the four-year filing period (the "clock" won't run during this time, in other words). (Wyoming Statutes Annotated section 1-3-116.)
These are just a few examples. If you have specific questions about how the Wyoming personal injury statute of limitations applies to your case -- especially if the filing deadline has already passed or is right around the corner -- you may want to discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney. Learn more about finding and working with the right personal injury lawyer.
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