Wyoming’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations: What You Need to Know
A statute of limitations is the time period during which you can bring a legal claim. After that time period expires, you will generally be barred from bringing a lawsuit, no matter how strong your case may be.
In Wyoming, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is four years. That means you have four years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. There are some exceptions to this rule, however.
- If you were injured as a result of medical malpractice, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit, or two years from the date you should have reasonably discovered the injury, whichever is later. There are some special exceptions where there is continuing treatment.
- If you are bringing a claim against a government entity, you have two years to file a claim notifying the government of an injury and of a lawsuit. You have then one year after the claim to file the lawsuit. (Note: This is for claims against the Wyoming State Government. A different rule applies against the Federal Government.)
- If you are bringing a claim for libel or slander, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, assault or battery (not including sexual assault), you have one year from the date of the publication of the defamatory statement or date of the incident to file a lawsuit.
- If you are bringing a wrongful death claim, you have two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.
Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines. It’s always best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to find out exactly how long you have to file your claim.
When does the clock start ticking on the statute of limitations in a Wyoming personal injury case?
Generally speaking, Wyoming is a discovery state. This means the statute of limitations is triggered when you knew, or had reason to know, of the existence of a cause of action.
As a practical matter, the statute of limitations in a Wyoming personal injury case usually starts on the date of the accident. That’s generally the date when the injuries were sustained.
Note, if there is an injury that is not immediately apparent, it may be possible to file a lawsuit later when the injury was discovered. However, this is the rare exception. Generally, it’s assumed that most people would seek medical attention soon after an accident, so the injuries must have been sustained on that date.
Below are several more examples where it may be possible to argue that the statute of limitations begins to run when the injury is discovered. But again, this is the exception, and it is always safest to file it sooner than later.
If you’ve been injured as a result of medical malpractice, the statute of limitations may not begin until you discover the injury or should have reasonably discovered the injury. For example, if you had surgery and it was only later that you realized the surgeon made a mistake, the statute of limitations would begin on the date you realized or should have realized there was an injury, not the date of the surgery.
The same is true for injuries caused by defective products. The statute of limitations may not begin until you discover the injury or should have reasonably discovered the injury. For example, if you buy a car and it’s only later that you realize the brakes are defective, the statute of limitations would begin on the date you realized or should have realized there was an injury, not the date you bought the car.
When in doubt, ask a lawyer
This blog covers only several statute of limitation rules. There are many more depending on the type of wrong, how long it’s existed, and why and how it’s discovered. There are also various exceptions.
If you’re not sure whether you have a case or if you’re worried that the statute of limitations may have expired, it’s always best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.
The Law Offices of R. Michael Shickich, LLC. is a personal injury law firm in Casper, Wyoming. We have over 20 years of experience handling all types of personal injury cases, including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, dog bites, and more. If you’ve been injured in an accident, don't wait until it's too late. Call us today or fill our online contact form for a free consultation.