Your life can change in an instant when a drunk driver hits you. Someone else’s irresponsibility can cost you dearly.
You might suffer physical injuries, financial stress, and even the loss of someone you love, all from someone’s decision to drink and drive.
Sadly, more than 4,000 Wyoming drivers were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in 2016. DUI arrests accounted for a quarter of all arrests in Wyoming. Half of those arrested for DUI had a blood alcohol content (BAC) level at twice the legal limit. Unfortunately, Wyoming has the second-highest drunk driving fatality rate in the US.
You may have experienced these unfortunate statistics personally. If you’re thinking, I was hit by a drunk driver. Can I sue? the answer is usually yes! While a drunk driver will likely face criminal convictions, you can bring a civil lawsuit as well. Keep reading for more information on how to sue a drunk driver in Wyoming.
What Is Drunk Driving in Wyoming?
Wyoming law defines drunk driving as driving or having physical control of a motor vehicle with a BAC of these levels:
- .08% or more for most drivers,
- .04% or more for commercial drivers, and
- .02% for drivers under age 21.
An officer can also arrest a person who displays actions consistent with drunk driving, even if the driver’s blood alcohol content level falls below these ranges. Wyoming has a mandatory presumption of innocence for drivers with a BAC of less than .05%.
I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver. When Can I Sue?
In Wyoming, you can sue someone who intentionally or negligently injures you or causes your loved one’s death. Drunk driving is a negligent action that puts other drivers at risk of harm.
To sue a drunk driver, you have to prove four elements of negligence.
Duty of Care
First, you need to show that the driver owed you a duty of care. Here, the driver owed other drivers the duty to drive safely and follow the law.
Breach of Duty
Next, you need to demonstrate that the driver breached the duty of care. This happened when the driver chose to drive after drinking or using drugs.
Duty Caused Harm
You also need to show that the harm you suffered was caused by the driver’s breach of duty. The drunk driving might have resulted in injuries, damage to a car or building, or death.
The driver’s breach of duty must result in harm that can be calculated as damages. The court awards damages, or monetary compensation, to victims of negligence.
If your harm was purely emotional or a mild physical injury that didn’t require medical treatment, then it’s probably not enough for a lawsuit. However, if you have expensive medical bills, the drunk driver should pay.
What Steps Should You Take to Sue a Drunk Driver?
After you experience a collision with a drunk driver, you may suffer physical injuries that require medical treatment. Getting needed medical care should always be your priority. If you don’t need immediate medical attention, take these steps at the scene of the accident:
- Call the police and paramedics;
- Respond to police questions;
- File an accident report;
- Take photographs of the scene of the accident, including vehicle damage;
- Take photographs of the other driver’s license plate;
- Get contact information for witnesses to the accident; and
- Get contact information from the drunk driver.
Once you leave the scene of the accident, you should receive a medical evaluation, even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured. Accidents can cause injuries that may not be apparent right away. Save all medical bills, auto repair invoices, and other records related to the accident.
Before you talk to the other driver’s insurance company, you may want to consult an attorney. Insurance companies might pressure you into a quick settlement, and you may feel too shaken to ask for the compensation you need.
You can receive compensation for these injuries from a drunk driver who caused you harm:
- Medical bills,
- Car repairs,
- Property replacement,
- Mental health treatment,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of companionship, and
- Pain and suffering.
An attorney can take over insurance company negotiations for you. If your attorney is unable to reach a successful settlement with the insurance company, then you can sue for damages.
I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver With No Insurance. What Can I Do?
If the drunk driver has no insurance, then you may be able to pursue an uninsured motorist claim. This is an optional coverage that you may have under your own insurance policy.
When the drunk driver is uninsured and you have no uninsured motorist coverage, then you can consider a personal injury lawsuit. However, your lawsuit prospects might be limited because an uninsured driver may not have much money.
In this case, your ability to recover damages depends on the personal assets of the driver. An attorney can investigate the other driver and determine whether they have enough assets to compensate you for your injuries.
In many states, you might be able to pursue a lawsuit against the bar or restaurant that overserved the drunk driver. However, in Wyoming, there is no statewide law that allows you to sue a third party who overserved a drunk driver.
Some Wyoming towns have local ordinances that allow you to hold a third party legally responsible for a drunk driver’s actions. This means that you might be able to file a claim against a bar, restaurant, or social host that served the drunk driver.
It can seem complicated to sort through the state and local laws that govern third-party liability for a drunk driving accident. You should call an experienced Wyoming accident attorney to investigate the laws governing drunk driving accidents in your area.
Get Legal Help with Your Drunk Driving Lawsuit
If you were involved in a drunk driving accident, you need legal help. At Platte River Injury Law, we can investigate your accident, evaluate insurance coverage, and advise you of your best settlement option. We want to advocate for your financial recovery so that you can focus on physical and emotional healing.
Give us a call for a free consultation. We’ll review your case, listen with compassion, and answer your questions. Then, if you decide you want our help, we’ll fight for your maximum recovery.
We know Wyoming can be a dangerous place for drunk driving accidents, but no one deserves what you experienced. We’ll do all in our power to help you recover. Contact us to start the process of holding the driver who injured you financially accountable.