Johnson County Personal Injury Attorneys
Located in the southeast corner of the Bighorn National Forest, Johnson County exemplifies the wild west identity of Wyoming. From scenic foothills to towering mountains, this region of our great state is popular among horseback riders, ATV riders, and hikers looking to get back to nature. Visitors and residents alike can easily enjoy the classic western vibes of Buffalo and Kaycee while easily escaping to one of the county’s many natural wonders.
Alongside wilderness opportunities, Johnson County has preserved some of the most historic sites in the American West. Learn about the historic wars that shaped the early days of statehood at Fort Phil Kearny or visit the infamous Hole in the Wall, made famous by Butch Cassidy and Jesse James. Visitors are also treated to several museums between Kaycee and Buffalo, both of which have several amazing dining establishments and historic hotels.
But Johnson County does not come without its share of risks, sadly. Many of the roads along Bighorn are rural and require a keenly aware driver to navigate properly. In the age of smartphones and GPS, many tourists can easily get distracted and collide with an innocent bystander or driver. Alongside our roadways, Kaycee and Buffalo both must contend with heavy snowfall every year, which often leads to icy pathways and parking lots. If a property owner fails to clear a safe path for visitors or neglects to put a warning up, they can suffer serious trauma to the head, neck, or back.
These tragedies often leave victims with detrimental injuries and costly medical bills that can put their livelihood at risk. You may find it hard to keep up with your job, take care of your family, and enjoy the great outdoors. However, if a negligent individual or company caused your injuries, you may be eligible for compensation in the form of a personal injury claim. But to ensure you receive proper legal advice, you need to contact a Johnson County personal injury lawyer at Steven Titus & Associates, P.C. Our law firm has extensive experience reviewing and filing claims on behalf of Wyoming residents. Contact us at (307) 257-7800 to learn what options are available to you after an accident.
Serious injuries can befall anyone in Wyoming, but Johnson County is home to its own, unique risks. The spectacular natural beauty of Bighorn National Forest invites millions of tourists every year to visit it, traveling in passenger sedans, SUV’s, Jeeps, mobile homes, and tour buses. While local drivers may understand how to handle themselves on rural roads, many visitors do not and can ignore common safety practices, such as speed limits, causing a collision.
Winter weather is also a major issue that residents of Buffalo and the surrounding towns have to contend with. While local governments handle snowplowing and de-icing, private businesses are still expected to keep their parking lots, pathways, and entrances safe of hazards. If a sudden storm coats a parking lot in black ice, the owner of that lot should immediately schedule a de-icing and warn visitors of the risk of a serious fall. If they fail to do so and you are injured in a slip and fall, you may have a premises liability claim.
Accidents that our attorneys can file claims for in Johnson County include:
- Slip and fall injuries on icy sidewalks and paths
- Car accidents due to high tourist traffic on rural roads
- Trucking accidents on I-90 and I-25
- ATV and snowmobiling accidents because of negligent drivers or defective parts
- Boat collisions in Bighorn National Forest
However, simply suffering an injury does not entitle you to file a personal injury claim. To have a firm case for compensation, you must first establish that another individual is liable for your injuries and that they committed negligence.
First and foremost, personal injury claims are often against insurance policies rather than specific individuals. Even when another driver rear-ends you or a negligent store owner leaves a tripping hazard out, your claim will be against their liability policy. Liability policies only apply to situations where a covered individual is required to provide a “duty of care” others. Broadly speaking, this can mean a driver’s “duty” to follow all the rules of the road, otherwise an accident can occur, or a property owner’s “duty” to keep walkways free of hazards.
Establishing liability is important, as there are scenarios where it does not apply. For example, property owners are only expected to protect residents and guests against hazards, not trespassers. Alternatively, skiers and snowmobile enthusiasts accept a certain level of risks when they head out into the wilderness. If a skier struck a tree and fractured their wrist, they could not find a ski resort at fault for having a tree on a mountainside. Thus, before filing a claim, you should first discuss your case and injury with an attorney to determine who is liable for your accident.
These insurance policies clearly outline the amount of compensation available to victims who have suffered “great bodily harm” and under what circumstances a victim can file a claim. Generally, liability policies only apply when the at-fault party acted in a negligent manner. For drivers, this can mean everything from driving while fatigued to committing a DUI. Alternatively, actively harming someone through road rage or assault would not constitute negligence but criminal behavior, which is not covered under liability policies.
To establish negligence, your attorney must demonstrate that:
- The at-fault person or company had a duty to care for you;
- Whether by acting negligently, carelessly, or recklessly, that person failed in that duty;
- That individual’s failure caused you harm; and
- You suffered a measurable cost due to your injuries.
Measurable costs can refer to any financial, and even non-financial, costs you incurred because of the accident. The state of Wyoming divides these costs into economic and non-economic damages, both of which can be recovered in a personal injury claim.
When you pursue a claim against an at-fault insurance policy, your compensation can include:
- Medical bills, both past and future
- Lost income from time off work
- Lost income from changing jobs or careers
- Costs of a disability, including short-term and long-term costs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
However, insurance companies rarely ever provide sizable settlement offers that cover all of these fields, if they offer a settlement at all. Depending on the circumstances, they may blame your injuries on you, a pre-existing condition, or another party altogether. This is because the Wyoming utilizes comparative negligence laws, which means that multiple parties can share fault in a personal injury claim.
For example, while the other driver could be found at fault for drinking and driving, you could be found partially at fault for speeding. If your claim went to trial, the jury may determine that both of you acted negligently. If you are 50% or more at fault for an accident, you would be barred from collecting compensation. Luckily, this only applies to cases that go to trial, which is only one in ten claims, and the rest are settled out of court during negotiations. But having an attorney that is experienced in both negotiations and in trial cases is extremely important to ensure your case is properly litigated.
Successfully filing and winning a personal injury claim is no easy task and requires the skill of a well-regarded attorney to ensure all regulations and statues are abided by. The state of Wyoming allows victims to file a claim within four years of the date of the accident, which is significantly more time than most other states. However, that does not mean you should delay in contacting an attorney. A strong case requires that a client have gone through most of their medical treatment to determine the cost of their injuries.
In addition, depending on the circumstances of your case, we made need time to collect evidence and review your case with experts to determine who or what caused your injuries. This is often more complicated if your claim is against a commercial company, such as a trucking agency or chain store.
Evidence we may utilize in your case can include:
- Accident reports
- Medical evaluations
- Witness testimony
- Photos of the accident
- Surveillance footage
- Previous violations, such as driving records or local ordinance reports
- Maintenance records
- Expert opinions, such as accident reconstructionists
Once we have collected all the available evidence and determined the cost of your injuries, we will then need time to negotiate with the at-fault insurance company. There is no telling how long this can take, as each situation should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Where some insurance companies may settle under the weight of a large amount of evidence, others may hold out until the deadline. If we cannot come to a proper agreement before that point, we will need to file a lawsuit in Johnson County civil court. But, with the right attorney, you may never have to go through that process.
Throughout the entire legal procedures, the Johnson County personal injury attorneys at Steven Titus & Associates, P.C. will provide clear communication with you. We will not make an important decision without your input and we will update you of any developments in your case. Our major focus is ensuring that you have the chance to recover, which is why we will handle legal burdens and stress. We also offer free initial case evaluations to any potential client who contacts us and work on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not get paid unless we win your case. If you have suffered a serious injury because of another individual’s negligent actions, give us a call at (307) 257-7800 and learn just how a skilled legal team can assist your case.
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