Wyoming Motor Vehicle Accident Laws and Safety Requirements

Although Wyoming only suffers about 150 traffic accident deaths per year, it is the most dangerous state in the United States to drive in on a per-capita “risk of death” basis. The victim of an injury road accident can file a personal injury claim on his own behalf (through a guardian if necessary), while the personal representative of the probate estate of a deceased victim can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Some of the basics of Wyoming road accident law appear below.

Statute of Limitations: In Wyoming, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit seeking damages for personal injury or property damage. To file a wrongful death claim, you have two years from the date that the victim died. These limits also apply to insurance claims, since you will have no leverage if you can’t file a lawsuit.

When the Victim is Partly at Fault: In many cases the victim shares blame for the accident. This doesn’t necessarily prevent a recovery, however. Wyoming is a “modified comparative fault” state. The court will rely on the evidence to apportion fault between the parties, and then subtract a percentage from the plaintiff’s damages that equals his percentage of fault. If he was at least 51 percent at fault, however, his claim will be dismissed and he will receive nothing.  

Fault/No Fault Rule: Wyoming is a “fault” or “tort” auto insurance state. An injured victim doesn’t have to look to his own insurance company for compensation – he can claim against the at-fault party’s liability insurance policy or file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party.

Minimum Insurance Coverage: In Wyoming, the minimum acceptable liability insurance policy covers $25,000 per injured victim, $50,000 for all injured victims combined, and $20,000 for property damage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Wyoming doesn’t require its motorists to maintain insurance covering uninsured or underinsured motorists.

Types of Damages Available: Full compensatory damages (both economic and non-economic) are available, since limitations on these damages are constitutionally prohibited unless the state government is the defendant. Punitive damages are not capped, but they are difficult to obtain unless the defendant intentionally harmed the victim.

Product Liability for Defective Vehicles: No-fault product liability is available in Wyoming, subject to comparative fault principles that may reduce or eliminate the plaintiff’s recovery.

Suing the Government over Defective Roadways (Sovereign Immunity): A money damages recovery against the state government is limited to $250,000 per injured victim and $500,000 per injury accident, or to the state government’s maximum insurance coverage limit, whichever is greater.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws: All riders under 18 must wear helmets.

Seat Belt Laws: Occupants nine years old and older must buckle up. The maximum first-offense fine is $25 if the offender is the driver, and $10 if the offender is a passenger. The offense is secondary, meaning that a police officer cannot pull you over for this offense – he must pull you over for some other valid reason before he can ticket you under the seat belt law.

Dram Shop Law: A licensed alcohol vendor can be held liable to an injured third party under Wyoming’s “dram shop law” if he serves alcohol to an underage patron whose intoxication later injures the third party. Vendors face limited liability for serving already intoxicated adults. Social hosts face similar liability for serving underage drinkers, but no liability for serving intoxicated adults.

DUI/DWI Penalties (first offense): A first-time DUI (sometimes referred to as DWUI in Wyoming) offender will face up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $750, and a 90-day suspension of his driver’s license.

Penalty for Refusing a Sobriety Test: A DUI/DWUI suspect who refuses to take a blood, breath or urine test will lose his license for six months (first offense).

Distracted Driving (texting while driving, etc.): Texting while driving is illegal in Wyoming.