Wyoming Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Wyoming Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Wyoming hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
Under Wyoming’s title 31, “Accidents,” you are guilty of a misdemeanor if you leave the scene of an accident without fulfilling statutory obligations. However, if the victim suffers serious injury or death, the hit and run driver can be convicted of a felony.
Quick take: Leaving the scene of an accident in Wyoming:
- You must report any accident that results in death, injury, or property damage above $1000 using “the quickest means of communication”.
- Failure to remain at the scene and file a report may result in additional charges and fines.
- Victims may take civil action to recover medical bills, lost wages, or other damages.
- Never admit fault at the scene of an accident.
- Wyoming is an at-fault state (the at-fault party pays the victim).
- You have four years to file a personal injury claim.
- Title 31 sections 31-5-1101 Duty to Stop Vehicle where the Accident involves Death or Personal Injuries to 31-5-1108 Failure to make Reports.
Wyoming hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
Under title 31 sections 31-5-1101 “Duty to Stop Vehicle where the Accident involves Death or Personal Injuries” to 31-5-1108 “Failure to make Reports,” you have a legal obligation to immediately stop your vehicle whenever you are involved in an accident. Therefore, failure to stop and fulfill the requirements listed in section 35-5-1103 constitutes a hit-and-run.
Section 31-5-1103. “Duty to Give Information and Render Aid” says that you have a legal obligation to do the following at the scene of an accident.
- Give your name, address, and vehicle registration number to the struck person, property owner, or law enforcement officer present at the scene.
- Upon request and, if available, exhibit your driver’s license to the struck person, passenger, peace officer, or a person attending to the struck person.
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it.
Note that the statute allows you to leave the scene upon request or if it is apparent that the victim requires immediate medical help. Also, if the accident does not result in death or serious injuries, you may move the vehicle to avoid interfering with traffic.
What to do after an accident in Wyoming
Note that even if you fulfill the requirements above, there is always the risk that the victim may take civil action. In addition, the accident may also impact your insurance payments. To minimize the fallout, legal experts recommend that you do the following:
- Immediately stop your vehicle and call the police if you are involved in a “reportable accident.”
- Remain at the scene. Failure to remain at the scene turns an accident into a criminal offense.
- Do not engage in road rage.
- Seek medical assistance if needed.
- File a police report within the set time (see below). Your insurer may deny you compensation if you do not file a report.
- Offer reasonable assistance if the victim requests it, or if it is apparent that the individual needs medical assistance. For example, you may transport the individual to a physician or hospital.
- Investigate the scene and collect evidence, including dashcam footage and witness testimony (you will need it to build a suitable defense).
Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in Wyoming?
Yes. Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage is a misdemeanor in Wyoming. Section 31-5-1102. “Duty to Stop a Vehicle where the Accident Involves Damage to Attended Vehicle” says that if you hit a vehicle, you must remain at the scene until you complete the requirements above.
If you leave the scene, make sure that you have a good reason and that you can prove it. For instance, if the other driver acts aggressively or brandishes a weapon, you may leave the scene and immediately report the activity to law enforcement.
Is hitting an unattended vehicle a misdemeanor in Wyoming?
Section 31-5-1104. “Duty Upon Colliding with Unattended Vehicle or Property” says that whenever a driver in the state is involved in a traffic collision with an unattended vehicle, you must make a reasonable effort to locate the struck property owner. If you locate the owner, you must give the individual your name, address, and vehicle registration number.
If you cannot locate the owner, you may attach a note containing the information above on a secure section of the struck vehicle.
Failure to attach a note or locate the vehicle/property owner constitutes a hit and run.
How long do I have to report an accident in Wyoming?
Under section 31-5-1105. “Notice Required of Driver,” you must report any accident that results in death, injury, or property damage above $1000 immediately using “the quickest means of communications.” That means you have twenty-four hours to file a report.
What if you are unable to file a report?
Section 31-5-1107. States that, quote:
“Whenever the driver of a vehicle is physically incapable of giving an immediate notice of an accident as required in W.S. 31-5-1105 and there was another occupant in the vehicle at the time of the accident capable of doing so, the occupant shall make or cause to be given the notice not given by the driver.”
Failure to file a police report is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5000 fine.
Tip: section 31-5-1110 prohibits the use of accident reports as evidence during the trial. However, the prosecution may use false reports in court.
Is leaving the scene of an accident in Wyoming a felony?
If the accident involves death or serious injury, the hit and run driver may face felony charges.
Under state law, vehicular homicide is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2000 fine. Section 6-2-106 reads in part:
“A person is guilty of homicide by vehicle and shall be fined not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than one (1) year, or both, if he operates or drives a vehicle in a criminally negligent manner, and his conduct is the proximate cause of the death of another person.”
“Aggravated vehicular homicide “is a felony punishable by up to twenty years in prison. Aggravated driving, under state law, refers to acts including:
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Using a vehicle in a manner that unreasonably interferes with other motorists.
- Reckless endangerment.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Wyoming?
- Hit and run involving property damage/unattended vehicle. Misdemeanor. Punishable by up to six months in jail and a $750 fine for a first offense.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving death or injury. Misdemeanor. Punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5000 fine.
- Hit and run involving aggressive driving/DUI. Felony. Punishable by up to twenty years in prison and a fine.
Civil and administrative penalties
Depending on your actions, the court may order punitive damages -and the victim may take civil action.
If you are the victim, you should do the following to increase the odds of a successful lawsuit.
- Stop and remain at the scene.
- Do not engage in road rage.
- Collect evidence at the scene.
- Immediately call the police.
- File a police report.
- Contact your insurer.
- Seek medical assistance.
- Do not comment about your health or admit responsibility for the accident.
- File a claim before the statute of limitations expires.
How is fault determined in Wyoming?
Wyoming is an at-fault state. Because of that, the at-fault party pays the victim. The state has a comparative fault rule that states, quote:
“Contributory fault shall not bar recovery in an action by any claimant or the claimant’s legal representative to recover damages for wrongful death or injury to person or property if the contributory fault of the claimant is not more than fifty percent (50%) of the total fault of all actors. Any damages allowed shall be diminished in proportion to the amount of fault attributed to the claimant.”
“The court shall reduce the amount of damages determined under subsection (c) of this section in proportion to the percentage of fault attributed to the claimant and enter judgment against each defendant in the amount determined under subsection (e) of this section. Each defendant is liable only to the extent of that defendant’s proportion of the total fault determined under paragraph (c) (i) or (ii) of this sector.”
What is the statute of limitations on car accidents in Wyoming?
Under state law:
- You have two years starting from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim.
- The statute of limitations on personal injury is four years.
- The statute of limitations on property damage is four years.
Wyoming hit and run laws: Defenses
The circumstances before and after the accident determine the best defense. Consequently, we recommend consulting with a defense attorney.
That said. Common defenses for leaving the scene of an accident include:
- You fulfilled statutory obligations before leaving the scene.
- You left a note on the struck property or vehicle.
- Mistaken identity
- You reported the vehicle stolen within a reasonable time before the accident.
Other Wyoming Laws