Every year thousands of people are killed by car accidents, workplace accidents, medical errors, and trucking accidents that result from negligent or wanton actions. Wrongful death laws in Wyoming ensure surviving family members can find closure and healing through accountability and compensation when such negligence results in death.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit to determine the responsibility of an individual or company for the death of another. There are many scenarios in which wrongful death can take place, but the guiding principle is that the liable party caused the incident through negligence or a wrongful act. A lawsuit must be able to identify and demonstrate evidence that shows a death was caused by negligence, recklessness, or willful and wanton behavior of the wrongdoer.
Unlike a personal injury case in which the lawsuit is filed by the injured person, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed by an appointed representative, usually a family member or an institution such as a bank. Each case is unique and is considered on a case-by-case basis due to complex laws, layers of evidence, witnesses, and expert testimonies. Working with an experienced and trustworthy wrongful death law firm that has the resources to overcome the challenges of your case is the best way to ensure your case meets the necessary criteria to reach a resolution as a lawsuit.
Wyoming’s Wrongful Death Act
Each state has its own wrongful death statutes that govern lawsuits within the state. Wyoming’s Wrongful Death Act determines who can recover damages for the death of a relative, as well as the types and extent of damages that can be claimed. Statutes also provide a timeframe in which lawsuits must be filed, called the statute of limitations.
Unique to Wyoming law, only a “wrongful death representative” may file a wrongful death claim. In order to act as the wrongful death representative, the individual intending to do so must file a petition with the court in the county where:
- The deceased family member lived
- The deceased family member died
- A defendant lives or can be summoned, or
- The event that caused the death occurred
Since each state has different laws in place for handling a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can help you navigate the nuances of this practice area and help your family recover the maximum possible damages.
Wrongful Death Damages
If another person or company is responsible for the death of a loved one, survivors may be entitled to financial compensation for the monetary and emotional losses incurred by the death.
The majority of losses that are claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit are non-economic damages such as loss of companionship, society, and comfort. Families may also claim losses of future earnings, past and future, and burial expenses.
Exemplary damages can be decided by a judge or a jury if it is shown that the defendant acted willfully. Such damages, frequently called punitive damages, are granted to make an example of the defendant for misconduct or with the knowledge or understanding that their actions may harm another person. At times, these damages are granted against large corporations that demonstrate a disregard for the safety of the public.
Statute of Limitations
Wyoming has a strict time frame in which wrongful death lawsuits must be filed called the statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations has passed, you will no longer be able to bring your case. States govern these limits to maintain specific standards for filing, ensure there is no discrepancy in evidence, and protect defendants from stale claims.
The statute of limitations for most wrongful death cases in Wyoming is two years from the date of the individual’s death. There are several additional factors to take into consideration that can affect the timeline of your case so it is best to timely contact a lawyer to preserve your rights.
While two years may seem like a substantial time frame, waiting too long to speak to an attorney can be detrimental to your case. To address the needs of your specific case, contact an experienced personal injury attorney promptly.
Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys
The Fitzgerald Law Firm has a proven record of success representing victims of wrongful death. Our attorneys are skilled trial lawyers who have the experience and resources to present case details to a jury in a manner that achieves truth and justice.
Jim Fitzgerald successfully represented the family of a man killed by a Caterpillar 988B front-end loader that had rolled over and crushed him while he was working at a construction site. The trial showed the operator’s death resulted from the 80,000-pound machine’s defective design. The jury awarded the man’s family $1.5 million dollars, affirmed on appeal. This case was the largest wrongful death verdict in the state of Wyoming at that time and is still the largest ever affirmed by the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Contact Our Wyoming Wrongful Death Lawyers
If a family member has been killed due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts of another person or company, the award-winning Fitzgerald Law Firm in Cheyenne, Wyoming can help you and your family find closure and support. Contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case.