What kinds of Personal Injury Compensation can you get in Wyoming?
Anyone considering filing a civil lawsuit needs to think about what they want out of their case. As Stephen Covey said: Begin with the end in mind.
You need to think about the end. What makes your case worth your time, attention, resources, and emotional investment?
All a Wyoming District Court can do is issue an order. What Court order makes worth it?
You need to answer that question before you start.
For most of my clients, it’s not about the money. In a drunk driving car accident case, it’s about getting justice. In a sexual assault case, it’s often about making sure that the person who did this can’t hurt someone else. In a slip and fall case, it’s about making sure that the dangerous condition was fixed.
Some clients want an apology. Others want to be heard. Others want the specific person at fault held responsible.
So yes, it’s not only about the money. But it also needs to be about getting you what you’re owed. Other people disagree, but I think it has to be partially about the money. Your lawyer needs to be doing everything he can to make sure you get the full amount of money you’re owed for your injury. That’s our job. You don’t get to do your case twice.
As the client, you determine goals and priorities. You can accept or reject any settlement offer. You determine why we’re doing this case. If you can, compartmentalize and let your lawyer do the job of making sure you’re compensated financially.
What kinds of compensation are there?
There are two broad categories of compensation or damages. Attorneys use the phrase damages to mean any injuries or harm that you can recover for under the law.
There are “compensatory” damages and there are “punitive” damages.
This category of damages is designed to compensate you for what you lost. Examples are:
- Wages. If you were injured and couldn’t work, then you’re owed the money you would have earned at work.
- Damaged property. If a collision wrecked your car, then you’re owed a replacement. This amount is typically what it costs to replace your car–not how much you owed on the car.
- Lost future earnings. If you had an injury that means you can’t work in your field in the future, say you’re a piano player and have a hand injury, then you’re entitled to your lost future earnings.
- Pain and suffering. You can be compensated for your pain and suffering.
- Loss of consortium. If your spouse or family member’s relationship with you is damaged by your injury (you can’t do things that you used to do together), then in certain cases you or your spouse can recover for those damages.
- Other damages. There are many things you can be compensated for depending on the facts of your case. It’s hard to generalize without talking to you.
Punitive damages are designed to punish the other person. These are rarer under the law. If someone’s conduct was reckless or indifferent to human life, then you can get punitive damages. Usually, you ask for punitive damages in an amount sufficient to deter other people from doing the same thing.
What about attorney’s fees?
People are usually upset when I tell them that we can’t get attorney’s fees for a personal injury case.
Yes, the other person done you wrong. And yes, you wouldn’t have to pay for an attorney if they didn’t injure you to begin with. Still, in a negligence case, you generally can’t make them pay your attorney’s fees. Sorry.
Sometimes, you can get attorney’s fees in a breach of contract case, especially if the contract contains an attorney’s fees provision. Sometimes you can get attorney’s fees by statute. And sometimes you can get fees as part of punitive damages.
But generally, you can’t recover attorney’s fees for a personal injury negligence case.