Wisconsin Auto Accident Laws & Resources

Whether you go to Milwaukee, Green Bay or Oshkosh, there are thousands of scenic miles of roads to explore in Wisconsin. You can see busy downtown Madison, the Wisconsin Dells and the shores of Lake Superior. The roads of the state are used by at least 4 million licensed drivers who drive 9,500 miles per year on average. As they drive to work and to play, they also are involved in plenty of serious auto accidents. Some of them even result in death. If you are planning to live in or work in the Dairyland of the US, it is important to both carry adequate auto insurance and to know the rules and laws of driving here.

Wisconsin Auto Accident Laws

Statistics and Notable Car Accident Lawsuits

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation found there were 129,051 car accidents in this state in 2016. Of all of these accidents, 97,460 involved property damages. But 31,066 of these accidents caused 43,669 people to have injuries. There also were 524 fatal crashes in Wisconsin that caused 589 deaths. This was an increase from the year before.

One of the major factors in Wisconsin for fatal crashes is drunk driving. In 2016, there were 5153 drunk driving accidents in 2016, which cause 8250 injuries and 186 deaths. Also, there were 2811 construction zone wrecks in the state in 2016, with 1112 injuries and nine deaths.

One of the major factors in Wisconsin car accidents is the crash rate based upon the type of street and the environment. Urban city streets in Wisconsin had the most crashes that year with 48,008. The next higher number of crashes was on rural state highways with 25,007 accidents. This was followed by 19015 urban state highway wrecks and 13850 county highway crashes. There were only 4219 rural city crashes in 2016.

State data also reported in 2013 that one driver 19 and under was hurt or killed in an accident every 1.7 hours. While it is not assured that teenagers were at fault in those crashes, data shows that they do not have the experience and wisdom of older drivers. There was an especially high number of cases where teens were found to have been texting at the time of the wreck.

County Fatalities

One of the nice things about living and working in Wisconsin is you can enjoy both rural and urban environments. Whether you want to enjoy the lakeside or a busy city, you can find what you want in this state. There also are many more fatal accidents in some counties than others:

  • Milwaukee County: 73
  • Dane County: 38
  • Waukesha County: 27
  • Rock County: 23
  • Columbia County: 20

Another major factor in Wisconsin car accidents is deer collisions. Wisconsin in 2017 moved up one place to #5 in the nation for the number of car/deer crashes. Wisconsin drivers have a one out of 72 chance of filing a claim for a deer crash. This is a 6% increase over 2016 with a one in 77 chance. There is a major increase of this risk from October to December. In fact, your chances of a deer strike rise by 100% in those months.

This is because deer are rutting at that time, which is when males are seeking females for mating. An animal that is often vary wary and will not travel during the day is more likely to do so in the winter months.

In 2016, there were 58,000 insurance claims in this state because of deer accidents. This was 354 more than the year before. That is probably not all the crashes; many people will not report the event to insurance unless the damage is serious.

Experts in Wisconsin say drivers should slow down especially in the winter months at dusk and dawn. If a deer is on the road, they should hit the brakes but do not swerve; this can cause a more serious or even fatal crash.

A major boating accident lawsuit that hit the headlines in Wisconsin recently was an Aug. 11, 2017 boating crash where Jill Ladwig was killed in a drunk boating accident. The wrongful death lawsuit alleges the woman was killed when a boat piloted by Anthony Drewes hit a pontoon the Ladwigs were on to fish in Lake Nagawicka. The impact of the crash knocked the woman into the water, where she drowned. Drewes was later charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.

According to court records, the wrongful death lawsuit was filed approximately one month after the homicide charge was brought by the police. Ladwig is seeking unspecified damages for the loss of companionship and society of his wife, as well as funeral and burial costs. The judge on the case granted the temporary freeze and found that Ladwig will suffer harm if there is not enough insurance coverage, and the accused is able to transfer his assets.

If the man is convicted of the murder charge, he could face 25 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

He requested earlier this year that the judge freeze Drewes’ assets because the limits of insurance in this case could prevent a satisfactory settlement. Court documents state that Drewes makes $260,000 per year.

Wisconsin Car Accident Settlement Calculator:

Have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident or otherwise injured in Wisconsin? Find out how much financial compensation you may be legally entitled to in just minutes with our free online Injury Settlement Calculator.

Auto Insurance Requirements in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, you are required to carry a bare minimum of car insurance per state law. If you do not carry this insurance, you could face serious fines and jail time. There is a tort system in Wisconsin; this means that if you are found liable in a car accident, you may be sued for both actual and economic damages. You also may be held liable for emotional and physical pain and suffering.

Below are the insurance requirements for this state:

  • $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
  • $10,000 property damage liability
  • $1000 in medical payments per person

You can reject medical payment coverage in writing. You also do not have to carry personal injury protection or collision and comprehensive coverage if you choose not to. But if you own a lot of property, you would be wise to carry more auto insurance; if you are sued because of an accident, you could have a lot to lose.

Wisconsin Accident Settlement Taxes

When you receive a personal injury settlement in Wisconsin, the proceeds are generally excluded from state and federal taxation. It does not matter if the case was settled before or after a lawsuit was filed, either. Therefore, most personal injury damages that result from a physical injury or physical sickness are not taxable as income. This includes:

  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Attorney fees

However, there are a number of exceptions you should be aware of. First, if you receive damages for mental anguish that are NOT connected to a physical injury, these will be taxable as income in most cases.

Second, punitive damages are always taxable as state and federal income. If you receive punitive damages, the judge or jury should split the settlement or verdict amount up, so you know what is taxable and what is not.

Third, if you receive lost wages compensation, this is generally taxable as income. This is replacement income for that which you would have been taxed anyway.

Fourth, if you receive any interest on your settlement amount before it is paid to you, this will be taxable as income, too.

Talk to a tax advisor if you have questions about your personal injury settlement tax issue.

Negligence Laws in Wisconsin

It is commonly thought that if you are partially responsible for a car accident, you cannot bring a claim or lawsuit. This is not the case in Wisconsin. According to Stat. 895.045, contributory negligence will be taken into consideration. If you are partially responsible for the accident, your potential verdict or settlement amount will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you have $10,000 in damages and are found 25% responsible, your recovery is reduced by $2500.

Also, this state follows a 51% rule. This means if you are 51% or more at fault for the accident, you cannot recover damages in a claim or lawsuit. For this reason, it is important to select strong legal representation; imagine if you have very serious injuries but are found to be 51% at fault. You would be barred from any recovery. A skilled personal injury attorney will work hard to argue that you are entitled to recover at least some damages.

Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Wisconsin

This state has a deadline or statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit. For most personal injury cases, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim or lawsuit. If you do not become aware of injuries related to the accident until a later date, you may be able to file later; check with your attorney to confirm this.

Also, if you are injured by a state or city worker, the statute of limitations is only 120 days. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible in this situation to get the process going.

Other Wisconsin Driving and Accident Laws

Wisconsin has passed a law that bans texting and driving. If you choose to text while driving, you could face fines of at least $100. Also, Wisconsin has banned all cell phone use for new drivers.

Wisconsin Car Accident Resources

If you have been in a car accident in Wisconsin, it is recommended to review the resources below.

  • If have serious accident injuries from a Wisconsin auto collision, you could be facing a high level of medical bills and lost work time. To decide if you want to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit, we recommend you visit Lawsuit Info Center. Our service can pair you with a licensed Wisconsin personal injury attorney who can determine if it is worth filing a claim or lawsuit. He or she can access recent verdicts and settlements in your geographic area. These results do not guarantee a favorable result for you, but they can indicate what is possible in a case where the person suffered injuries like yours.
  • If you were in a car accident in Milwaukee and need a copy of the police report, you can get a copy here.