Filing a Claim if Your Car Crash Was Caused by Ice or Snow

snowy road with digital sign over roadAs temperatures drop, there is a greater chance of encountering snow and ice on our roads.  While it is important to take the necessary precautions to help ensure your safety, crashes can still happen.  These collisions have the potential to be very dangerous, particularly when ice is involved because vehicles do not stop as easily in these conditions.

When a crash happens and snow or ice was a factor, it is only natural to have questions or concerns about how this may impact your ability to seek insurance compensation for injuries and damages.

Will the insurance company claim you are at fault because you were driving too fast?  Will the other driver attempt to avoid responsibility for the crash by claiming it was caused by snow or ice?

If you have questions after a car crash, it is important to reach out to a qualified lawyer for assistance.  The Bloomington auto accident attorneys of TSR Injury Law have obtained millions in compensation for crash victims and have detailed knowledge of car insurance claims in Minnesota.  The initial consultation is free.

What if I Am Partially to Blame for the Crash?

One of the benefits of living in a no-fault state like Minnesota is you can file a claim against your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage no matter who was at fault.  PIP may provide compensation for things like medical expenses, lost wages and the cost of replacement services.

However, what happens if your damages exceed the value of your PIP coverage or if you want to pursue a pain and suffering claim against the other party?

Minnesota requires a minimum of $40,000 in PIP coverage. $20,000.00 for wage loss ($500.00 weekly increments) and $20,000.00 for medical.  However, even if you purchased more than that, damages from a severe injury could quickly hit your coverage limit.  In addition, no matter what happens with the PIP claim, you have the right to pursue a bodily injury claim.

When pursuing a claim against the other driver’s liability insurance policy (for unpaid bills, wage loss or pain and suffering) the at-fault insurance will always blame snow or ice to deflect responsibility.  Early investigation by an attorney on your side can often offset these ice and snow defenses.  In addition, even if you are partly at fault for the crash, your lawyer may still be able to file a claim because Minnesota law says you can recover compensation if you are less than 51 percent at fault.

Anyone who bears partial fault will see his or her compensation award reduced by the percentage of fault he or she is assigned.  That means someone who is 20 percent at fault will see his or her compensation award reduced by 20 percent.  Just one more reason to start investigating and documentation collection right away after a crash to avoid any insurance discounts.

Contesting Partial Fault for a Crash

Insurance companies will look for any reason to assign fault for a crash.  The presence of snow or ice could be reason enough for them to say you were at least partially to blame.  They may say you were speeding, or your tires were old and could not gain enough traction.  They could argue their client had no idea there was ice on the road and the crash was “unavoidable” and therefore no one is at fault.

If you can safely collect evidence at the scene, you should try to do so.  For example, taking pictures of the damage to both vehicles could be very important.  Often, the damage to both vehicles helps to prove how the crash occurred.  Listening to what the bad driver says to the police could later help.  If the ice defense pops up later but was never said to police that is good evidence.

You may be tempted to admit partial fault for a crash.  For example, you think “maybe I was going to fast…”  Do not admit anything.  The insurance company will take an innocent questionable statement and argue it as a fact.  Always tell your attorney your opinions and concerns and let us determine the best way to present them.  We simply are trying to prevent the insurance company assigning you a lot more fault than you deserve.

Preparing Your Car for Winter Weather

While it is not possible to prevent every crash, there are things you can do to help ensure your car is safe to drive in winter weather.  Taking these steps may also help prevent the insurance company from claiming you are at fault for a crash in icy or snowy conditions.

  • Check your tire pressure each week
  • Keep an eye on the tread depth of your tires – make sure to replace tires when the treads are too low as they will struggle to gain traction in snow or ice.  Best case is to change to winter ties for the cold months and summer tires for the rest.
  • Change out your windshield wipers for winter windshield wipers
  • Make sure you have enough windshield washer fluid
  • Make sure your gas tank is at least half full to prevent moisture from forming in the gas line and freezing
  • Slow down in winter weather – this allows you more time to slow down or maneuver away from danger
  • Drive defensively – reckless drivers do not change their behavior just because of bad weather
  • Make sure your headlights and brake lights work and replace any broken lights or burned out fuses
  • Stay off the roads if you are concerned about your safety or your ability to drive safely
  • Be cautious on bridges and overpasses, as ice may form more quickly on these surfaces
  • Leave more room between the car in front of you than you normally would
  • Use your headlights, even during the day, as they may help you find shiny spots on the road that could be ice

TSR is Here to Help. Call to Schedule a Free Consultation

You do not have to go through the legal process alone.  You have the option of hiring an attorney to represent your best interests and hold the insurance company accountable for compensating you for damages covered by the policy.

TSR’s experienced legal team has been fighting for crash victims for more than 20 years and has recovered over a billion on behalf of our clients.

Your initial consultation is always free and there is no obligation to take legal action.  We also do not charge legal fees unless you receive compensation.

Call today for help and answers to your questions. Ph: (612) TSR-TIME

Can a Property Owner Be Held Liable for a Fall Caused by Snow or Ice in Minnesota?

walking while shoveling snowOne of the most common reasons for a slip and fall accident is a slippery or wet surface.  In the late fall and winter months in a state like Minnesota, snow or icy conditions can cause many people to slip and fall.

While many people brush off slip and fall accidents as no big deal, the truth is serious injuries often result from these situations.  Victims may be able to seek compensation if they were on another’s property – the property owner may have been required by law to remove the snow or ice.

However, liability for a fall caused by snow or ice can be a complex issue.  That is why you should strongly consider seeking legal help.  You do not want to talk to just any attorney, you need an experienced lawyer with a track record of recovering compensation for injury victims in Minnesota.

TSR Injury Law has recovered millions on behalf of our clients and there is no obligation to take legal action after meeting with us.

What Does the Law Say About Removing Snow and Ice?

The state of Minnesota does not have any laws requiring municipalities to create or enforce policies on removing snow from sidewalks.  However, most municipalities do have ordinances on this issue.

For example, Chapter 445 of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances deals with this issue.  The code says property owners of any buildings that border, abut or adjoin any street must remove snow or ice within fours of daylight after snow stops falling.  A property owner is anyone having custody, care or control of any building. Daytime hours are between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

This part of the code excludes those who own one or two-family dwellings.  However, owners of these properties must remove snow from a public sidewalk that abuts or adjoins their lot within 24 hours of snowfall ending.  If they are unable to remove any snow, they must sprinkle sand on the sidewalk.

Business owners must keep driveways leading into their businesses clear of snow, ice or other debris.  This part of the law applies to anyone carrying on a business, profession, vocation, parking lot, or other service the city requires a license or permit from the city, provided they are operating next to a public street or boulevard.  Those who fail to comply could have their business license or permit revoked by the city.

Failing to comply with the requirements of the code is a petty misdemeanor.  Every hour past the four-hour window to remove snow or ice, or past the 24-hour window for one or two-family dwellings, is a separate violation of the code.

Establishing Liability for Your Injuries

A violation of local law on removing snow or ice may be considered a breach of the property owner’s duty of care.  In a personal injury claim, the victim must prove the at-fault party breached a duty of care and link that breach to the injury suffered.  A duty of care is an obligation to take reasonable care to help prevent others from suffering harm.

However, how do you prove the property owner exceeded the four-hour time limit for removing snow? How do you establish when snow stopped falling?

You can be sure the property owner and his or her attorney or insurance company will look for any argument to use against you to avoid responsibility for the accident.

That is why it is so important to document the accident by filing an accident report. Make sure to note the time in the report.  You should also seek immediate treatment, as this will help link your injury to the accident.  After that, contact an attorney right away.  Another important piece of evidence are photos.  It is not always possible to take photos right away, but if you can, do it.  It is often the best evidence of the timing and condition of the fall down area at the time of the fall.  Even a few hours later may have changed the condition.

The attorneys at our firm have extensive knowledge of local laws on removing snow and ice and how they may apply to a personal injury claim.  These cases are often difficult to prove, which is why you should strongly consider seeking experienced legal representation.

One factor that may play a role in your claim is whether the danger presented by the snow or ice was reasonable or unreasonable.  Sometimes people should know to avoid certain things because they are obviously very dangerous.  The at-fault party may try to use this defense against you.  For example, if you walked onto the property and the owner was in the process of clearing snow and ice, and you continued walking into a dangerous area, you may have trouble building a case against the property owner.

Injured in a Slip and Fall? Schedule a Free Consultation

Even though snow and cold weather are features of living in Minnesota, we should all be careful to avoid injuries caused by these conditions.  If you think a walkway is too slippery or might cause you trouble, maybe you should avoid it.

However, no matter how safe you try to be, an accident could still happen.  If it does, our Minneapolis slip and fall lawyers are ready to help you.  Schedule your free consultation today to learn more about our services and the benefits of having qualified legal representation.

TSR Injury Law. No Upfront Fees.  Call (612) TSR-TIME.

Liability for a Car Accident Caused by a Heart Attack or Sudden Medical Emergency

test result images under stethoscope on tableOne of the scariest things that could happen to any driver is for him or her to suffer a sudden medical emergency, like a heart attack, seizure, stroke or sudden loss of consciousness. Drivers could easily lose all control of the vehicle and get into a life-threatening crash.

Generally, a heart attack or other medical emergency is not the driver’s fault. That may raise questions about whether the driver can be held liable for the damages the crash caused.

TSR Injury Law discusses this issue in greater detail below, explaining some of the issues that will likely need to be considered. Our firm offers a free consultation for crash victims to discuss their potential legal options. Whether you are considering filing a claim, or already have and are struggling to negotiate with the insurance company, Bloomington auto accident lawyers may be able to help.

What is a Sudden Medical Emergency?

A sudden medical emergency is an unforeseen situation that puts a person’s life at risk. For example, people do not know when a stroke, heart attack, seizure or sudden loss of consciousness (syncope) may occur. When these things happen, immediate medical treatment is essential to save the person’s life and try to stabilize his or her condition.

If you have ever experienced a sudden medical emergency or witnessed someone else experiencing this type of emergency, you know they would be unable to safely operate a motor vehicle while it is happening.

That is why it is so important for people who are experiencing signs of a stroke or heart attack to get off the road as soon as possible.

Signs of a heart attack include:

  • Pain in the center of the chest that feels like pressure or squeezing
  • Pain in one or both arms, neck, jaw or back
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest pain

Signs of a stroke include:

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of your body
  • Confusion
  • Trouble speaking
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Loss of balance
  • One side of your face is drooping

Can Drivers Use a Sudden Medical Emergency Defense?

Many states allow drivers to use a sudden medical emergency defense to escape liability for a crash that occurred when they were incapacitated. The theory of this defense is the driver did not act negligently cause the crash, so he or she should not be held liable for any resulting damages.

However, Minnesota does not appear to have clear statutes or case law on this type of defense. This shows why it is so important to work with a licensed attorney, as countering this defense could be quite complicated.

In March 2000, an appellate court in Minnesota discussed this issue in a case involving a car crash where one driver suffered a seizure. The court said the standard for the sudden incapacity defense was not well-established in the state and existing case law on sudden medical emergencies is sparse. In the appeal, the victim of the crash was requesting the court to reverse the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the other driver.

The appeal argued there was inconclusive evidence the other driver suffered a seizure. The appeal disputed the testimony of the emergency medical technician, who said witnesses said they thought the driver had a seizure. The appeal asserted there was abundant evidence the driver fell asleep and did not have a seizure.

Another case that dealt with this issue was dismissed by a federal district court in February 2014. The lawsuit involved a crash between a fuel truck and a passenger vehicle.

Medical tests found the truck driver had a sudden drop in blood pressure that caused him to pass out. The fuel truck driver’s defense team argued this was an “Act of God” and the court dismissed the case. The fuel truck driver did not face liability for the crash.

Generally, the key to successfully using an Act of God defense is to provide evidence the event could not have been foreseen or mitigated by human activity.

What if the Emergency was Foreseeable?

Sudden medical emergencies are often not foreseeable. However, there are times when drivers should know they have an increased risk of losing consciousness or becoming suddenly incapacitated. For example, someone who is prone to seizures may have been told not to drive by his or her doctor.

Someone diagnosed as diabetic needs to carefully monitor his or her blood sugar to make sure it does not get too low. If this happens, there is a higher risk of the driver passing out. If a diabetic does not eat for a long period of time and gets behind the wheel, he could be putting himself and others at risk.

As noted earlier, there are common signs of a heart attack or stroke, so if a driver identifies these symptoms for getting behind the wheel, he or she may not be able to use a sudden medical emergency defense.

If you are involved in a crash with a driver who was incapacitated, your attorney may look for a history of medical issues to determine if the emergency was foreseeable or not.

Need Help After a Crash? Give TSR Injury Law a Call

Our experienced attorneys know how important it is to recover compensation after a crash. We want our clients to have the compensation they need to properly treat their injuries and give them the chance to make the best recovery possible.

Our firm has obtained over a billion on behalf of our clients and we do not charge upfront fees for our services.

Schedule a free consultation today to learn more. (612) TSR-TIME

How Much Time Do I Have to Claim an Injury from a Car Crash?

speaking with lawyer about car accident claimSometimes car crashes that do not result in significant damage to your vehicle can cause significant injuries. However, you may not notice symptoms immediately after the crash. In fact, it could take days or weeks before you notice pain symptoms and/or seek treatment.

When this happens, victims may wonder if they can still file a claim for compensation. The answer is yes, but things could be a lot more complicated than if you had filed right away. For one, the insurance company will use the delay against you, claiming you were truly not injured at all or if you are hurt, it was because of something besides the crash.

Another factor that could complicate things is if you talked to the insurance company immediately after the crash. Did you say you were not injured? Did you say you felt OK? Your words will be used against you.

While your lawyer may still be able to obtain compensation, statements like this could present a significant obstacle.

Problems With Waiting to File a Claim

Not only could you pass the deadline for filing a claim, you could be giving the insurance company and at-fault party a strong reason to deny or devalue your claim.

After a car crash, insurance companies and at-fault parties are always looking for some way to attack your credibility. If there is a significant gap in time (more than a day or two) between the crash and you filing a claim, they may say you are just trying to get money and are not significantly injured.

They are especially likely to use these arguments if you did not seek treatment for weeks or months after the crash. The burden of proof for linking an injury to a crash is on the victim. It can be very difficult to establish this connection if your injuries were diagnosed a week or a month after your crash.

It is never a bad idea to go to the hospital or urgent care after a car crash. A licensed medical professional can look you over and run tests to help determine if any injuries occurred.

It may take more time for significant injuries to develop, but by seeking treatment quickly, you are documenting your initial pains that later can be linked to the crash. You are also helping to make it that much harder for insurance companies and at-fault parties to dispute your intention for filing a claim or attack your credibility.

Statements to the Insurance Company

It is best to keep your statements to the insurance company brief. You may not think you are seriously injured, but that may change in the future. You want to leave yourself room to maneuver if you begin experiencing symptoms. That means avoiding definitive statements about your condition, as these statements could soon prove to be inaccurate.  The number one rule is to speak to an attorney before ever giving an insurance statement.

What is the Deadline for Filing a Car Crash Claim?

Your insurance company likely has a deadline for filing a claim, and if you miss it you may lose the right to do so. That is why it is important to contact a Bloomington car accident lawyer right away to determine if you may be eligible for compensation.

In addition to the basic setting up a claim, there are also legal deadline requirements to file a lawsuit on injury claims. Statute of limitations vary by state and also by type of claim. The SOL can be as short as  two years from the date of the crash. Even though most car crash claims are resolved through an insurance settlement, sometimes your lawyer may need to take the insurance company to court to pursue maximum compensation.

By contacting a lawyer right away, he or she can determine if you may have a case and get to work gathering evidence. You want to give your lawyer enough time to prepare to file a lawsuit if it becomes necessary.

TSR Injury Law is Here to Help. Call Us Today.

If you have any questions about your claim or the legal process, give us a call today. We are here to help crash victims, including assessing whether you may have a valid claim for compensation.

There is no risk in contacting us because we do not charge for an initial consultation and you are not required to hire us if we find you have a case. In fact, our attorneys are not paid to represent you unless we obtain compensation for your damages.

Read our testimonials page to see what our clients have to say about the representation we provided them.

Call TSR Injury Law. No upfront fees. (612) TSR-TIME.