Personal Injury in Wyoming
Any time you turn on day-time or late-night television, you will inevitably see advertisements from personal injury attorneys hawking their services and promising to get you all the money you deserve if you were injured in an auto accident.
While there are many stereotypes and monikers for these types of lawyers, the fact of the matter is that what they are saying may not be far from the truth. You'd be surprised how difficult it can be to get fair compensation from an insurance company for medical bills and pain you suffered due to someone else's negligence.
And while you are sitting in front of the tube shaking your head in antipathy at yet another "ambulance chaser," there are other people thanking their lucky stars. They are forever grateful for the lawyer who helped them secure a fair settlement, enabling them to pay exorbitant medical costs or be out of work until their injuries healed.
It is always easy when the ball is not in your court, and despite the interesting methods of communicating to the public, personal injury attorneys can, and do, help a great deal. Besides, there are tons of attorneys out there who completely avoid the used-car-style TV commercials.
Wyoming is an "at fault" state. Thus, if a driver is found to have caused an accident that resulted in injury to someone else, then it is the responsibility of that driver and his or her insurance carrier to pay the ensuing costs.
It sounds simple, but it is not. Between filing a claim and accepting a final settlement, an accident victim must navigate a convoluted process involving a small encyclopedia of esoteric terms, definitions, facts, and invaluable details that could be easily overlooked in the whirlwind of paperwork.
Unless you have an uncanny knack for the law, it is imperative that you have an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of the process and is a pro at negotiating with insurance companies. Before you decide that hiring an attorney is not an option, consider speaking to one who offers free initial consultations. Even a little gratis insight into the process can help you do it right yourself.
Before anything is pushed into motion, fault has to first be established. This has usually been determined by the law enforcement agency investigating the crash, either based on firsthand observation or the filed accident report. Many times, this aspect is pretty cut and dry.
If a person is hurt in the accident and was not the party liable, then that person must clearly establish that the injuries sustained were actually caused in the crash. This is not so straightforward. There are many other facets that need to be considered besides the obvious physical injury.
Of course, you can file an injury claim without overwhelming evidence that the accident was the cause of the injury; it just may be harder to prove. When stepping into these waters, the entire process can turn into a minefield that only a skilled lawyer may be able to tread.
Once a claim is filed, and in some cases before it is even filled out, the insurance companies will start calling you. Without a lawyer, you will be on your own during these bantering sessions. It is imperative that you remain calm and make sure to jot down thorough notes―especially if you intend to eventually retain an attorney.
Remember that an insurance company's first goal is to make money for itself. To that end, many insurers will make at least some effort to minimize their payout for a personal injury claim. They may do this by trying to settle with you immediately, before you have had a chance to see just how serious your injuries are, or how much the accident affects your quality of life. It's wise to avoid reassuring the kind insurance assessor that you're OK, because you may not be.
A broken bone or blatant wound and the ensuing costs of treatment for these injuries are rather easy to assess. Even loss of a paycheck due to time missed from work is simple for an insurance company to add up. When the claim process becomes tricky is when an injury is so serious that it causes damage to areas of your life that are rather difficult to describe in monetary figures.
How does an injury affect family relationships or the overall quality of the plaintiff's life? What is the cost of this loss? Can you put a dollar amount on emotional damage such as depression and stress caused by the injury (not to mention the claims process)?
Generally, the injured party is entitled to receive monetary compensation for these matters, but coming to a resolution might entail some difficulties.
Injury damages are split into three categories:
- Economic damage―Medical expenses, wages lost (past and future), and any other "real" damages or expenses incurred.
- Noneconomic damage―The category for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life.
- Physical disfigurement and impairment―The financial consequences of irreparable physical injury or permanent disability.
Insurance companies have a calculation method to determine a settlement figure. They multiply the easily pinpointed monetary figure (i.e. economic damage) by a number based on the extent of the injury in order to compute a total for the subjective (i.e. noneconomic damages).
If the injuries sustained are slight, the economic cost is multiplied by 1.5 or 2 to devise a noneconomic settlement figure. The worse the injury, the higher the number used (going up to 10).