Most people are thinking why should I report the crash and involve the police or sheriff and potentially raise my insurance rates? The main reason to report a crash is that it will be investigated by trained law enforcement professionals, who will talk to the all involved drivers and any witnesses. Based on all these factors and their own investigation, the law enforcement professional will complete what is called an “accident report" and issue any appropriate tickets. This accident report creates a record that can help you out later in terms of identifying all drivers, their respective insurance companies, and any independent witnesses to the crash. If a witness cannot wait until the authorities arrive, make sure you get their name, address, and phone numbers so that you can then pass the information on to the investigating authorities when they arrive. Depending on the severity and/or circumstances of the crash, the investigating authorities may take measurements or even pictures of the damaged vehicles and the scene itself. Also, your own insurance company will always want to have a copy of the accident report if the other driver does not have insurance.
Any measurements or pictures become very helpful if a personal injury lawsuit has to be filed years later because the area of the crash could have changed, any skid marks are long gone, and the damaged vehicles could have been totaled and destroyed. The measurements/pictures are the only evidence showing what the scene of the crash looked like, and could be very important in determining the negligence of the at-fault driver.
A common reason why many people do not call the local law enforcement agency is that they mistakenly think that the damage to the vehicles does not look like much. However, what looks like minimal damage to you can end of being quite extensive once a trained estimator thoroughly examines your vehicle. Another common reason for drivers not call the l law enforcement authority is the other driver’s promise to pay for the property damage or your medical bills if you agree not to call the police of sheriff. Never fall for this one!! What an at-fault driver says they will do for you at the scene is usually something totally different then what happens when you next contact them. An accident report eliminates the classic “he said" “she said" scenario. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the time these “promises" do not end up working out, and then you have no independent verification that a crash ever took place. Do not put yourself in this position.
However, if you do enter into one of these agreements with the other driver and things do not work out, you still have ten (10) days to file your own accident report with the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles. If you have internet access this form is accessible on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s web site. You can fill in the form on line, then print it out and mail it in. For those of you without access to the internet, these forms are available at most police departments or by calling the Wisconsin Department of Transportation at (608) 266-8753.
The following are situations that you are required to report a crash to law enforcement under Wisconsin law:
· If someone is injured
· If someone is killed
· If there is greater than one thousand dollars ($1,000) in property damage to any vehicle
· If there is greater than two hundred dollars ($200) in damage to government property, – signs, guardrails, light poles, etc…