America’s Dairyland Wisconsin is home to nearly six million people. A long winter season marks Wisconsin’s climate, its roadways covered in ice, leading to car accidents. In 2022, there were 128,830 vehicle crashes, 547 of which were fatal. Not only are crashes deadly, but they induce financial ruin if you don’t know Wisconsin car accident law.
If you’re in a collision in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, or another part of the Badger State, understanding Wisconsin car accident laws can help you:
- Understand how car insurance minimums apply
- Identify the types of damages you may qualify for
- Determine whether fault matters to your overall settlement amount
After an accident, it’s important you heal while getting the settlement you deserve to cover all your losses.
IMPORTANT: Consulting a Wisconsin auto accident attorney — even if you have insurance — is the best way to get the money you deserve.
How to Handle a Wisconsin Car Crash
Under Wis. Stat. § 346.67, you’re required to stop, investigate damages, and render aid whenever possible after an accident. Follow these steps so you can follow Wisconsin car accident law while establishing liability for your lawyer in the future.
- You must stop your vehicle where it is safe. Move it out of traffic if you are able.
- Provide reasonable assistance if you can when someone needs help.
- If the crash caused injuries or fatalities, call 911 and speak with whoever is dispatched to your scene.
- If you wish to use a non-emergency number instead of 911 to report the crash, call the local sheriff or police department.
- Exchange information with the other driver, up to and including:
- Names and addresses
- Drivers license numbers
- Vehicle registration numbers
- To report the accident after it happened, visit the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
If you fail to stop after an accident in Wisconsin, you may be cited and charged the following penalties according to Wis. Stat. § 346.74(5):
- Fines between $300 to $1,000, six months imprisonment, or both if the accident did not involve death or injury
- Fines up to $10,000, nine months imprisonment, or both if the accident involved injury, but no grave bodily harm
- Guilty of a Class E felony if the accident involved grave bodily harm
- Guilty of a Class D felony if the accident involved death of a person
Although not mandatory, you should take pictures of the wreckage and the surrounding area at the scene of the accident. Talk to eyewitnesses and record their accounts. The more evidence you hold, the easier your attorney can defend you against insurance companies, and even a court of law.
How to Report a Car Accident in Wisconsin
According to Wis. Stat. § 346.70, you must report your car accident to the Wisconsin police if:
- You are involved in a crash involving $1,000 or more worth of property damage or $200 or more to government property other than a vehicle.
- Any injuries are present. Wisconsin law considers an injury to be any physical harm that needs first-aid or care from a physician.
- Anyone involved in the crash was killed.
- A deer or other animal is injured or killed.
If you don’t stop, you could be charged with a crime, fined, or have your driving privileges revoked under Wis. Stat. § 346.74.
After calling the police and exchanging info, a written report must be sent within 10 days according to Wis. Stat. § 346.70(2), in case your officer hasn’t filled one out already. If they did not, you can fill out a report to the Wisconsin DMV through their website.
Wisconsin Statute of Limitations
There is a three-year deadline for the filing of car accident lawsuits in Wisconsin car accident law.
IMPORTANT: If your car accident caused someone’s death, the rule is different. Wisconsin Statutes section 893.54 puts a two-year time limit on filing a wrongful death claim. It is measured from the day of the accident victim’s death. This could be later than the date of the accident.
The statute of limitations is the deadline for filing your claim. If you can’t bring your car accident claim before three years, your claim may get barred from court.
File your case as soon as possible with an attorney so you won’t have to worry about further deadlines. This ensures your evidence is fresh, raising your chances of a higher settlement.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations may be tolled if the injured party is mentally ill or under 18 years of age. The timer stops ticking also when the guilty party leaves the state, which will then resume when they return.
During these times, a Wisconsin car accident lawyer is key to arranging the paperwork so you know when your deadline ends.
Is Wisconsin a No-Fault State?
No, Wisconsin is an at-fault state, meaning whoever is deemed responsible must pay for the resulting damages. Therefore, be very careful about apologizing or claiming responsibility when interacting with the other driver.
Fault matters when it comes to financial responsibility for losses from a crash. This includes medical bills from everyone’s accident injuries, lost income, vehicle damage, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
The at-fault driver’s insurance carrier will pay for losses up to the driver’s liability policy limits.
Wisconsin Car Insurance Laws
All drivers must carry car insurance or proof of self-insurance in Wisconsin car accident law. Any car insurance policy must include at least these minimum amounts according to Wis. State. § 344.01(2)(d):
- $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
- $50,000 liability coverage for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
- $10,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle.
- Uninsured motorist coverage: at least $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident.
Liability coverage pays for medical bills, property damages, and other costs victims suffered resulting from an accident you’ve caused. Your insurance company only pays up to your coverage limits. Liability coverage does not cover your own damages after a crash.
Wisconsin does not require personal injury protection. PIP is insurance covering medical costs regardless of who’s at-fault for the accident. It is often required in states with no-fault accident laws, like New York.
Additional Coverage Options
Because liability coverage doesn’t cover your own injuries, you’ll need additional coverage. Collision coverage, which is optional in Wisconsin, can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident.
Most people have collision coverage for newer or nicer vehicles with a higher cost of replacement.
Comprehensive coverage pays for vehicle damages from non-traffic accident sources like fires or theft. You may opt-in for additional coverage when personal injury protection is not enough.
Wisconsin Car Accident Law and Comparative Negligence
It holds that you can’t be more than 50% at-fault and receive a settlement from the other party involved in your accident.
In other words, this law allows for financial recovery only when your level of responsibility is less than the other driver(s) involved.
So, if a jury in Wisconsin determined your injuries, property damage, and pain and suffering were worth $400,000 but you were 25% at-fault, your award would be reduced by 25%. This would leave you with a settlement of $300,000.
Types of Damages in Wisconsin Car Accident Law
The potential compensation after your accident may be larger than you realize. Add up your medical bills, repair costs, and other expenses related to the accident. Don’t hold back and gather every piece of evidence to show that you suffered from your crash. You deserve an appropriate settlement for your losses.
Economic damages are the measurable losses caused by a car accident. Any medical bill, repair cost, or lost money as a result of your crash counts as economic damages, such as:
- Vehicle repairs and maintenance
- Loss of employment, income or wages
- Loss of use of property
- Past and future hospital bills
- Laboratory fees
Non-economic damages are non-measurable losses from a car crash. These include any heavy emotional traumas, long-lasting disfigurement, or life-changing disabilities, including:
- Reputational damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of consortium (companionship, comfort, affection or sexual intimacy)
Punitive damages seek to punish the conduct of an extremely reckless driver. Albeit rare, when they are awarded, Wisconsin law caps punitive damages at $200,000 or double the compensatory damages, whichever amount is greater (Wis. Stat. §895.043).
There are two exceptions to the punitive damages cap:
- Claims against a government entity do not allow for punitive damages
- Claims against a drunk driver have no cap on punitive damages
PRO TIP: Contact a Wisconsin auto accident lawyer for the non-economic damages you deserve.
Car Accidents Involving an Uninsured Driver
When injured in an uninsured driving accident, your own uninsured motorist insurance coverage takes effect. You can collect damages for injuries up to the limit of your policy.
Hit and Run Accidents in Wisconsin
Your uninsured motorist insurance coverage also applies to hit-and-run accidents in Wisconsin car accident law.
Suing the guilty party is difficult unless you locate the runaway driver. When found, you can make a claim against their insurance or file a lawsuit against that individual in Wisconsin court.
LegalASAP Can Connect You with an Auto Accident Attorney in Wisconsin
Expert counsel can help you navigate the legal process and get the money settlement you deserve. And working with an experienced lawyer is more affordable than you think.
LegalASAP can put you in touch with an auto accident attorney who knows Wisconsin car accident laws and is ready to review your case. The process is free until you win your settlement, so click below to continue.
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.