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Mandatory Auto Insurance law in Wisconsin.

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Sec. 344.62 of the Wisconsin Statutes requires the owner or operator of a vehicle to have automobile insurance. Failure to have such insurance under sec. 344.65 may result in a $500 fine. If you drive a vehicle registered in Wisconsin, you must maintain a minimum level of insurance of $25,000 of coverage for bodily injury liability per person, $50,000 of coverage for bodily injury liability per accident and $20,000 of coverage for property damage liability per accident. When you are driving a vehicle in Wisconsin, you must be prepared to show proof auto insurance coverage if requested to do so by law enforcement. If you fail to show valid evidence of maintaining proper auto insurance at an accident or traffic stop, it can result in the suspension of a person’s driver’s license.

I see more and more situations at our office where an individual is involved in an automobile accident, resulting in serious injury, where neither driver is carrying auto insurance, contrary to the mandatory state law that went into effect in 2009 in this state. In 2014, there were 28,801 injury crashes, per the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles. The percentage of drivers operating without auto insurance in the state of Wisconsin is 11.7%, per the Wisconsin Car Insurance Guide. Wisconsin ranks as #25 among states in the country with those drivers not carrying auto insurance coverage, per the Wisconsin Car Insurance Guide.

I have seen some tragic results where a person is seriously injured in an accident and has no means of recovery because the other driver did not have auto insurance, and due to their own financial constraints, could not afford paying for the insurance themselves and were driving without any coverage. In those instances, the person cannot be compensated for the damage to their car, if they miss time from work their lost income, payment of their hospital and medical bills, and pain and suffering from their injuries. We have seen people permanently injured who have no means of financial recovery. While it is true, that you can personally sue the other driver who caused the accident, if they couldn’t afford the auto insurance in the first place, chances are the person is lacking sufficient income and assets to ever satisfy a personal judgment that one would take against them, if you are suing the person individually. Most personal injury lawyers will simply close their file and send to the injured party a statute of limitations warning and will not necessarily want to continue pursuing a separate lawsuit against the driver, since the chances of recovery are marginal.

Don’t make the mistake of finding out the hard way that you were the victim of a serious car accident and have no financial means to recover. If you maintain the mandatory auto insurance coverage when owning a vehicle in the state of Wisconsin, you can make an uninsured motorist claim against your own company as uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory in the state of Wisconsin. The minimum requirements under Wisconsin law are $25,000 for uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per incident.

For more information on this article, contact Karp & Iancu.

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