Late Winter Storm Caused Havoc on Minnesota Roads

The storm that blew into the Twin Cities on February 20th went down in the record books as the snowiest day ever in Minnesota for the month of February. By Monday evening, the snowstorm had dumped roughly 13 and a half inches on Minneapolis. South of the city, the snow totals approached over one and a half feet, with Bloomington getting 19.6 inches and Burnsville 18 inches of snow.

The 2010-2011 winter season is on track to be the third snowiest in Minnesota’s history, with just over 74 inches falling so far. The heavy snowfall has required St. Paul to declare nine snow emergencies with Minneapolis declaring eight – the most the city ever has declared.

The snowstorm brought its fair share of headaches for drivers, causing several motor vehicle accidents, but the timing of the storm may have made it not as bad as it could have been. President’s Day kept some drivers at home, limiting the number of cars on the snow-packed roads and reducing the risk of car accidents.

There were, however, still plenty of car crashes to keep the Minnesota State Patrol busy. In the metro area, there were 181 accidents and another 190 reports of vehicles spinning out or going off the road.

Six state troopers were hit by cars, including 30-year-old Trooper Brian C. Bammert. Trooper Bammert was helping out with a crash when a second car lost control on the ice and hit him in the leg. Fortunately, none of the six troopers suffered serious injury in the accidents.

More than 100 people visited one of the area’s three biggest hospitals during the snowstorm. Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, and Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville each reported seeing people with storm-related injuries, including snow blower injuries, back injuries, frostbite, sprains and fractures from falls and other injuries directly or indirectly caused by the storm.

Motor Vehicle Accident Liability in Minnesota

Even though most Minnesota drivers are well-accustomed to snowy winters, this does not mean that all motorists operate their vehicles safely or attentively during the state’s worst weather days. Icy and snow-packed roads require drivers to slow down and take extra precautions, like increasing their following distance.

Those who have been hit by another driver and injured in a car accident may be able to file a legal claim against the driver responsible for their injuries. It does not matter if the accident occurred during the most recent winter storm or on a clear day. When another motorist acts negligently and harms another person or damages their property, the law says that the injured person has the right to compensation for his or her losses.

Some of the damages recoverable under Minnesota law after a motor vehicle accident include:

  • Medical expenses, including past expenses and future anticipated expenses
  • Lost wages, income and other earnings
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Property damage to your vehicle and any property inside the vehicle, including repair, replacement and diminution in value
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Disability

If a loved one died in a car accident, then the surviving family members can bring a wrongful death claim against those responsible for causing the death. Some of the types of compensation available in a wrongful death action include funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, loss of the decedent’s earnings, loss of aid, loss of society and loss of companionship.

Under Minnesota law, car accident victims generally have six years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If a person died as a result of the accident, the family has three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim.

You May Be Entitled to Compensation – Even if You Share Fault

When accidents occur during a snowstorm or other poor driving conditions, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault for the accident – and in many cases, it may not be as simple as one driver being wholly responsible. This, however, does not prevent the injured motorist or passenger from recovering compensation for his or her injuries.

Minnesota has a modified comparative fault system. This means that so long as the driver is found to be less than 51% at fault for causing the accident, then he or she still is entitled to recovery for his or her injuries and other losses. The amount of damages ultimately recovered is reduced proportionately by the percentage of fault attributed to the driver. For example, if Driver A sustained $10,000 in damages in the car accident and is found to be 40 percent at fault for causing the accident, then Driver A is entitled to recover 40 percent, or $6,000, of damages.

Conversely, if Driver A is found to be at least 51 percent at fault for the accident, then state law would prevent him from recovering anything – and he may be required to pay not only for his own losses, but also for some of the other driver’s losses as well.

Getting Help with Your Car Accident Claim

For more information on your legal options following a motor vehicle accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. The other driver’s insurance company will try to undervalue your claim and get you to sign a settlement agreement quickly. An attorney experienced in helping car accident victims can review the facts of your case and help you obtain the full value of your claim.