Hurt in a Car Accident Out-Of-State?

Wyoming Attorney Answers Questions About Vacation Injuries

Video Transcript:

Grant Lawson:

It's good to look for an expert, a lawyer in that state where they're hurt, because even if you go to your local lawyer or find somebody in your own state, nine times out of ten, they're going to have to come and find somebody like me.

Rob Rosenthal:

If you're injured while driving outside of your home state, is it important that you get an attorney in that state? Well, that's what we're going to find out because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer today.

Hi again, everybody, I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com and my guest is Wyoming attorney Grant Lawson with the Metier Law Firm. Grant, good to see again. Thank you for making some time to answer our questions.

Grant Lawson:

Yeah, thanks, Rob. I appreciate being here.

Rob Rosenthal:

So unfortunately, there's been quite a few stories out of Wyoming recently of drivers who were injured; even in one case, a couple was killed in a collision with a truck. They were from out of state. Is this a common thing in Wyoming, maybe because of tourism and a lot of the trucking industry? This could be an issue that happens quite often in Wyoming.

Grant Lawson:

Yeah. Especially because we have the two major interstates that run through Wyoming, I-80 East to West and I-25 North to South. What we have is a large trucking industry population, so to speak, that travels through Wyoming to get from coast to coast, or Midwest to West Coast. We also have a lot of people, not only from our state, but people traveling the country, visitors on vacation, tourism, etcetera, and so it is an unfortunately common phenomenon.

The other thing we have here in Wyoming that's really, really a factor is the weather. We have unfortunately horrendous weather conditions on both of those roads, and any time between October and even May, definitely into April, the severe weather conditions can lead to tragic consequences, because people are not used to driving in those treacherous conditions, especially the truck drivers who don't come from this part of the country and can’t appreciate what it's like on these icy and snowy and windy roads here in Wyoming.

Rob Rosenthal:

Someone's in a collision, let's say they're injured, they're not from Wyoming, but the collision happens in Wyoming. What's your advice? Do they get somebody from their home state, do they get an attorney in Wyoming? What's your advice?

Grant Lawson:

Well, I personally do a tremendous amount of co-counsel cases with attorneys from around the country who have clients who were injured in Wyoming but they're from a different state. They go out, they find an attorney in another state, and then the attorney from another state realizes, “Hey, I’ve got to have somebody in Wyoming who knows Wyoming’s laws, who knows the courts, and can do this case.”

So we end up doing a lot of those. I think if I was going to give a suggestion to folks out there, if they're injured in a particular state, it's good to look for a lawyer in that state where they're hurt, because even if you go to your local lawyer or find somebody in your own state, nine times out of ten, they're going to have to come and find somebody like me to actually co-counsel, and work the case up, and do the case right here in the state—whether it be Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, or wherever we're working in the Rocky Mountain region.

Rob Rosenthal:

So local rules and regulations, those are different from state to state? Maybe from region to region?

Grant Lawson:

Well, there's a lot of variables. One thing is knowing the courts, knowing who the judges are, having an understanding of how that's going to play out like where to file your time requirements, your statutes of limitation, discovery rules, the local rules; making sure that you can identify whether the vehicles are still here in Wyoming; if the vehicles were severely impacted enough to where they're being stored somewhere in Wyoming; making sure that those are getting inspected timely, and making sure that all the letters are going out and people are preserving evidence. So, yeah, there's a lot of variables, a lot of factors that go into why it is that you need somebody in the state where you're going to file the case.

Rob Rosenthal:

You mentioned discovery and evidence collection. Talk a little bit about that. What is involved in, say, a collision between an automobile and a truck, and why is it so important that, for example, if the driver is from California, that attorney in California probably won’t have as easy a time as someone who’s local doing that.

Grant Lawson:

Right. Well, it's very true. We have the connections here: we know the experts, we know the mechanics, we know people that we can call on a moment's notice to get to a location to inspect a vehicle, to a lot of times do a download of the ECM—the electronic control module of a truck—making sure evidence is being preserved. Also making sure that letters are going out to everybody who needs to understand that, hey, we are intending to bring a claim, you need to preserve all evidence and make sure it doesn't go anywhere until we have an opportunity to inspect it and have our experts come and look at it and to take every step necessary to make sure that we can prosecute the rights of our clients.

Rob Rosenthal

Now I would assume, Grant, that timeliness is important too. If somebody says they're injured and they wait until they're out of the hospital and they get back to their home state, and then they contact an attorney, a lot could be lost in that time, right?

Grant Lawson:

Yeah, absolutely. You can be assured if you're involved in a collision with a commercial motor vehicle, the first thing they're going to do is call their insurance company and their representatives, and those people are going to be onsite within 24 hours, taking pictures, collecting data, and they're going to be ahead of the game. So it's important that even if someone is in the hospital, that if they can do it or if they can have a family member start making those phone calls to get a plaintiff's attorney and representatives engaged. That way they can stay on top of the game, so to speak, and make sure that they're getting an opportunity to collect the data, and the records, and all the evidence that's necessary to figure out what happened, why it happened, and make sure nothing gets lost, most importantly.

Rob Rosenthal:

What about attorneys’ fees? Let’s say they hire an attorney in their home state and you in Wyoming or wherever this may happen. Do they have to be prepared to pay extra, or twice as much? How does that work out basically?

Grant Lawson:

So every time that we come across this situation, every attorney that comes to us with a case that wants a co-counsel, they have a contingency fee arrangement, just like we do, where the client’s is not paying anything up-front, it's all covered by the lawyer. And nine times out of ten, we're able to work out an arrangement on the same kind of basis that those lawyers have with their clients in other states. We don't ever see attorneys stepping in to try and help somebody and requiring their clients to pay, and if that was to happen, that would not be the arrangement we would do because we don't charge our clients. We don't take any money from our clients until we have successfully resolved the case.

Rob Rosenthal:

So there's really no good reason not to get a local attorney involved if you're injured in one of these situations?

Grant Lawson:
Absolutely. Right. That's correct.

Rob Rosenthal:

Grant, thank you once again. Helpful information. Thanks for answering our questions.

Grant Lawson:

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. You guys have a great day and everybody stay real safe.

Rob Rosenthal:

You too, buddy. That’s going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been attorney Grant Lawson in Wyoming with the Metier Law Firm. Remember, if you want the very best information or you want to be able to choose a lawyer that lawyers choose, go to askthelawyers.com. Thanks for watching. I’m Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

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