Wisconsin’s comparative negligence standard does not apply to the insurance company. But the insurance adjuster will still make a fault determination. The insurance company will use the determination to calculate an adequate settlement.
Wisconsin also requires uninsured motorist coverage (UM). UM covers damages that you incur from a driver that lacks adequate insurance. It also protects you in accidents involving a hit-and-run. Under Wisconsin auto accident laws, you must carry at least $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident in UM coverage.
If you are at-fault for the accident liability insurance will not cover your damages. You will need to rely on other insurance. For example, collision coverage will reimburse you for the costs of fixing your car.
Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Wisconsin
Driving without insurance can result in significant penalties. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $500 under Wisconsin Statutes Section 344.65. The Wisconsin DMV may also suspend your driver’s license and/or registration.
If you can show proof that you had insurance the court will dismiss the infraction. Driving without insurance can also result in significant financial liability. If you are at-fault for an accident, you will be on the hook for the other party’s damages.
Reporting Requirements for Car Accidents in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Statutes Section 346.70 provides car accident reporting requirements. Under the statute, drivers must report an accident if:
- The accident resulted in injury or death to any person;
- The accident resulted in more than $200 in damages to state or government property; or
- The accident resulted in property damages of $1,000 or more to any one person.
Reporting requirements apply to both drivers and occupants. This means that passengers also have a potential legal duty to report. Accident victims must report crashes meeting any of the above criteria “immediately”. They must use the “quickest means of communication.”
The easiest way to meet reporting requirements is to contact law enforcement. If police show up to the accident they will complete the crash report. However, if the police are not called, you can report the accident online by completing the form.
Types of Damages in Wisconsin Car Accident Cases
There are several types of damages that car accident victims can recover. The first are economic damages. Economic damages are those that are easy to prove. For instance, you can provide copies of medical bills and pay stubs to prove damages.
The second type is non-economic damages. These are more difficult to prove. Some examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering and disfigurement. Pain and suffering is a broad category that includes mental anguish and emotional stress. There are several different methods for calculating pain and suffering. A Wisconsin auto accident lawyer can help you to prove the extent of your pain and suffering.
The third type of damages in Wisconsin auto accident cases are punitive damages. Punitive damages are not a compensatory type of damages. Rather, they are to punish the at-fault party and deter others. Punitive damages are rarely awarded. The defendant must have acted with intentional disregard of your rights or acted maliciously. When the court awards punitive damages, there is a cap. Punitive damages cannot exceed $200,000 or twice the amount of your compensatory damages, whichever is larger.
Recovering Damages in a Wisconsin Car Accident Case
There are several different ways injured drivers can recover damages in Wisconsin. The first step is to contact your insurance company to report the accident. Your insurance company will contact the other driver’s insurance company. They will work together to determine fault for the accident.
If you are at-fault, the other driver’s insurance company will not pay for your damages. You will need to turn to your own insurance company for compensation. For example, you may have purchased collision coverage. Collision coverage will pay to repair or replace your vehicle.
If the other driver is at-fault, his insurance company will pay for your damages. The insurance company will usually try to settle. They will often send you a written offer with a low initial offer. Insurance companies attempt to limit their liability by getting you to accept the first offer. Accepting is often a mistake. You can avoid this by consulting with an experienced Wisconsin auto accident lawyer. The lawyer can inform you of your rights and help value your claim.
You can also send the insurance company a formal demand letter.
A demand letter is a formal letter that details your damages. The letter will request a specific amount to settle your case. Be sure to list all your damages. Include your estimated non-economic damages. Calculating these amounts can be complex. Again, consider consulting with a lawyer to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.
You may also choose to file a lawsuit. Your suit will usually name the other driver and his insurance company as defendants. In some cases, you may also need to list third party defendants. For example, a mechanical defect may have contributed to the accident. This may give you a claim against the manufacturer.
Filing a lawsuit may be necessary if the insurance company is refusing to settle. By going to trial you can attempt to prove your case to the jury. It is also often necessary to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations has expired. Sometimes the insurance settlement process can take a long time. Filing a lawsuit preserves your right to go to trial.
To recover damages at trial, you must prove negligence. Negligence means that the other driver failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care. And his failure must have caused the accident. Remember, you cannot be more than 51% at-fault for the accident. If you are, you will not recover under Wisconsin auto accident laws.
Wisconsin Car Accident Settlement Calculator
Did you or someone that you know suffer an injury in a car accident in Wisconsin? Use our free online Injury Settlement Calculator to see what your case might be worth.