Does Wisconsin Use a No-Fault System for Car Accidents?

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

A car accident is viewed and dealt with under the laws of personal injury, but can be quite a different animal than the standard personal injury case. For one thing, car accidents, even serious ones, are prevalent. Getting into a serious car accident is something that many people will experience in their life if they do not know someone who was in one. In fact, almost 130,000 car crashes occurred just in the state of Wisconsin in 2022.

Despite being, for lack of another word, “common,” car accidents can be one of the most distressing things to deal with. While many deal with them themselves, there are numerous accidents that cause serious life-altering injuries. Have you recently been in a car accident in Wisconsin? If so, we want to make it clear that you do not have to do this alone. Trying to figure out car accident laws can feel like deciphering a secret code! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Schedule an appointment with one of our car accident attorneys today; we will assist you. Understanding Wisconsin’s car accident laws is essential to understand what to do if you’re in a crash and why having a lawyer on your side is like having a superhero in your corner!

Wisconsin Car Accident Laws, An Overview

Before you can understand how to move forward, there’s a few main considerations in Wisconsin car accidents. Several things come into play, like fault, your injury, your insurance, the statute of limitations. All of these components come together to tell you, and your attorney, the story of how much compensation is available to you. It’s important to note that car accident law falls under personal injury law, allowing the person injured to go through the proper courts to receive compensation and recover damages if necessary.

Wisconsin is a Fault State

Wisconsin operates under a fault-based car insurance system. This means a simple cause and effect. If you cause the damage, you pay for it. This means the driver deemed responsible for the accident (at-fault driver) is financially liable for the damages of the other driver(s) involved. When you are at-fault for the accident, you must go through your own insurance to collect compensation to give the other party. Determining fault considers factors like traffic violations, speeding, reckless driving, failing to yield the right of way, and texting while driving (yikes!). At fault accident insurance is an important concept for anyone to be aware of.  

Understanding Comparative Negligence in Wisconsin

Here’s another interesting thing to know about Wisconsin laws: Wisconsin uses modified comparative negligence. Think of it like a sliding scale. Even if you were partly to blame for the accident, you can still get compensation! But, the amount you receive gets reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you’re found 20% at fault in a $10,000 accident, you’ll only receive $8,000. But remember, if you’re more than 50% at fault, you’re out of the game for compensation. The concept of comparative negligence is not to be over-simplified – in reality it is a detailed legal concept. Please speak to an attorney before making any conclusions!

Wisconsin is NOT a No-Fault State

No-fault states require drivers to use their own insurance coverage, regardless of who caused the accident. Wisconsin is not a no-fault state. Here, the at-fault driver’s insurance is responsible for covering the damages. In other no-fault states, the person injured in an accident will go through their own insurance – no matter the fault.

The Statute of Limitations in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has time limits for filing car accident lawsuits. This is called the statute of limitations. Think of it like a catching a flight – if you miss the deadline, the doors are shut on your chance to get compensation. You generally have three years to file a personal injury claim after a car accident. Or two years, if someone tragically passed away due to the accident. The clock starts ticking on the day of the victim’s death. It’s crucial to file your lawsuit within these deadlines. Otherwise, you may lose your right to seek compensation. However, there are some exceptions!

What Happens When a Crash Occurs

Following a Wisconsin car crash, it’s important to stay calm and take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your rights. In fact, one of the most important things to do is not panic.

Checklist For After an Accident

Being in a car accident can be scary, but stay calm! Here’s a quick guide to get you back on track if you find yourself unsure of what to do:

  • Stop, Check, and Don’t Be a Wreck: Make sure everyone’s okay. If needed, call 911 – getting medical attention is priority number one!
  • Exchange Information: Names, numbers, insurance details. Snag info from any witnesses too – they might be your secret weapons later.
  • Report the Accident: Get the police involved. An accident report is essential to your case – it documents everything!
  • Document Everything: Photos of the damage, the scene, and any injuries are your evidence.
  • Contact an Attorney: Get them involved EARLY, so they can advise you.
  • Contact Your Insurance Company: Let them know what happened.
  • See a Doctor, Even if You Feel Okay: Sometimes car accident injuries sneak up on. Getting checked out is crucial.

Wisconsin Auto-Insurance

Wisconsin law requires all drivers to carry minimum liability insurance coverage. Not having auto insurance is like boarding a plane with the plan to sky dive, but with no parachute! The minimums include:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $10,000 property damage liability

It’s important to note that minimum coverage may not be sufficient to cover all accident-related expenses. Consider purchasing additional coverage depending on your needs. If you need assistance purchasing liability insurance in Wisconsin, it’s not a bad idea to speak with an attorney.

Injuries and Causes of Accidents

There are several injuries that are common after getting into a car accident in Wisconsin. There are some minor injuries, like sore muscles and feeling tight. Or, there are more severe injuries, like broken bones, concussion, open lacerations, and even death. When you think about the nature of a motor vehicle, this does make sense. These cars were built to take us from one place to another as fast as is safe, but nothing can account for human error and unfortunate situations.

There are many causes of accidents. The large majority, however, are due to human error and not mechanical error. Distracted driving is one of the main causes for accidents nationwide. This means doing anything to take your attention off the road – like texting, eating, putting on makeup, calling, and other things.

Why You Need an Auto Accident Lawyer in Wisconsin

Car accident cases can be complex, especially when dealing with insurance companies and determining fault. An experienced auto-accident lawyer can:

  • Investigate the Accident: They will gather evidence, interview witnesses, and reconstruct the accident scene to determine fault.
  • Negotiate with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies may try to minimize or deny your claim. Your lawyer can fight for the compensation you deserve.
  • Handle the Legal Process: They will take care of paperwork, deadlines, and court appearances, allowing you to focus on recovery.
  • Protect Your Rights: A lawyer can ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process.

Car accident cases can be complex, especially when dealing with insurance companies and finger-pointing. An experienced auto-accident lawyer is your hero in this situation! If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Wisconsin, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced auto-accident lawyer. They can guide you through. If you’re looking for a personal injury lawyer in the Green Bay or Appleton area, choose Peterson Berk & Cross, P.C.