The first thing to know is that Wisconsin follows a traditional fault-based system when it comes to financial responsibility for losses stemming from a crash: that includes car accident injuries, lost income, vehicle damage, and so on.
So, the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is also financially responsible for any resulting harm. Of course, from a practical standpoint, the at-fault driver's insurance carrier will absorb these losses, up to the driver's liability policy limits.
After a car accident in Wisconsin, you might be able to:
Note: In no-fault car insurance states, a claimant doesn't usually have this same range of options. Wisconsin drivers don't need to worry about no-fault after an in-state accident, but no-fault could come into play after a crash that occurs across state lines in Michigan or Minnesota.
All Wisconsin drivers are required to carry car insurance or some other form of financial security (surety bond, personal funds, or certificate of self-insurance). Any car insurance policy must include at least the following minimum amounts of coverage:
Liability coverage pays the medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident you cause, up to coverage limits. You can (and in some situations should) carry more coverage to protect you in case a serious crash results in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. Once policy limits are exhausted, you are personally on the financial hook, so higher insurance limits can help protect your personal assets in the event of a serious crash.
Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you've given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.
Remember that liability coverage doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after a Wisconsin car accident. You'll need different (additional) coverage for that if you're involved in a car accident and no one else's coverage applies to your losses. For example, collision coverage (optional in Wisconsin) can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident. Note that collision or comprehensive might be required under the terms of a vehicle lease or financing agreement.
Uninsured motorist coverage is also required in Wisconsin; at least $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. According to the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance: "This kind of coverage applies to bodily injury you, your family, and other occupants of your vehicle incur when hit by an uninsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver. It also covers you and your family if injured as a pedestrian when struck by an uninsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver."
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation:
Of course, these penalties are all in addition to the serious financial jeopardy you might find yourself in if you cause a car accident and you don't have car insurance.
Yes. If you're asked to show proof of car insurance in Wisconsin (during a traffic stop, for example), you can pull up official documentation from your car insurance company (such as a digital version of your insurance card) on your phone or other device. And of course, handing over a physical copy of your insurance card is still perfectly acceptable.
Get more information on car insurance in Wisconsin, straight from the state's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance:
It's important to understand how car insurance works in Wisconsin, but if you're involved in an accident, you might need to learn more about Wisconsin laws that could affect a car accident claim.
If you need help with the injury claim process, it may make sense to discuss your situation (and your options) with a legal professional. Get more information on when you might need a car accident lawyer, and what to expect from your first meeting with a car accident attorney. You can also use the features right on this page to connect with a Wisconsin car accident lawyer in your area.