Wisconsin Car Accident Laws

If you’re involved in a car accident, you must understand Wisconsin’s car accident laws in order to properly file a report or claim damages.
Written by Rob Shapiro
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
After most car accidents in
, you are required to contact the police immediately. You may also have to report the accident to the DMV and file an insurance claim. In adherence to Wisconsin’s comparative fault law, you may seek damages via a personal injury lawsuit.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin law requires you to take care of certain things right away. That’s why it’s important to understand your state’s car accident laws so that you’ll know how to proceed.

What to do after a crash: Wisconsin car accident reporting laws

After a car accident, Wisconsin law requires the following:
  • If you reasonably know that you caused property damage, bodily injury, and/or death, you need to stop somewhere safe
  • Exchange pertinent information with the other party or parties
  • Always provide reasonable assistance to someone in need
In most cases, the next steps involve:
  • Filing an accident report with the police
  • Filing a report with the DMV
  • Contacting your insurance company to file a report

When to report an accident to the police

Under Wisconsin law, an accident must be reported if it results in:
  • The injury of a person
  • $1,000 or more in damages to another party’s vehicle or property
  • $200 or more in damages to state or other government-owned property (not including vehicles)
Department of Transportation
could send you a letter notifying you that your accident was reportable and then you must complete a crash report
To report an accident, you will need the following info:
  • Driver’s license number
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Social Security number
  • Car insurance information 
If the police do not respond to the accident, you have to file a Driver Report of Accident within 10 days.

When to report an accident to the DMV

Wisconsin state law requires an accident to be reported if the accident results in any of the following:
  • An injured person
  • At least $1,000 worth of damages to another party’s vehicle or property
  • At least $200 worth of damages to state or other government-owned property, not including vehicles
If you’re still unsure of whether you need to report your accident to the DMV, call the location nearest to you to ask

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: Wisconsin’s insurance laws

Wisconsin car insurance laws
mandate that drivers must carry at least the following coverage:
Failure to meet these minimums could result in a fine of up to $500.
Be prepared that not every Wisconsin driver has car insurance coverage. A 2019 study conducted by the
Insurance Information Institute (III)
states that roughly 13.3% of drivers in Wisconsin are uninsured.
Take note: Any accident with an uninsured driver may cause complications when you try to recoup damages. Combat this with
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Claiming damages after an accident: Wisconsin’s personal injury laws

In Wisconsin, you have three years to file a personal injury claim for a car accident. This means that within three years, you must file your paperwork with the court, although your case does not have to be completed within this timeframe. 
In Wisconsin, you can file a personal injury lawsuit for either general damages, special damages for past losses, and/or special damages for future losses. These break down as the following:
  • General damages cover pain and suffering. The amount of compensation depends on the severity and how long the suffering lasts. 
  • Special damages for past losses cover expenses, loss of earnings, and other financial losses related to an injury or illness.
  • Special damages for future losses are designed to return you to the final position you were in before the accident as if the accident never happened. This depends on your ability to work or if you need any form of rehab or care. 

Who’s to blame: Wisconsin’s comparative negligence law

To determine fault in a car accident,
Wisconsin uses modified comparative negligence
  • Essentially, whoever is responsible for the accident due to negligence is liable for damages for any injuries that were the result of the accident
  • If you and the other driver are both partially at fault, you might be able to recoup damages if you are found to be less than 50% at fault
  • If you are awarded damages, they will be lowered based on the percentage of the accident for which you are deemed to be at fault—so let’s say you are awarded $100,000 in damages but are found to be 25% at fault. This means you will only recover $75,000
Remember: Your negligence must be supported by evidence. You are not negligent just because you happened to be involved in a car accident. This is why these cases can take a while to conclude. 

How to save money on car insurance in Wisconsin

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