Can Drivers be Held Liable for Failing to Prepare Their Cars for Winter Driving?

removing ice from windshieldWinter can be a dangerous time to drive, as you can encounter snowy or icy conditions that make it harder to avoid a collision.

Drivers involved in winter car crashes may say there was nothing that they could do to avoid a crash. This might not always be true, though. Their negligence may have contributed to the crash. For example, they may have been speeding or violating the other driver’s right of way with snow or ice just making it worse.

In some cases, the at-fault driver’s car was not prepared for winter weather. For example, if the at-fault driver was driving on underinflated tires or had old windshield wipers. If you get injured in a crash during the wintertime and are unsure about your legal options, give us a call. The initial legal consultation with a Bloomington-based auto accident lawyer is free and comes with no obligation to hire our firm. We also charge no upfront fees.

TSR Injury Law. Call today: (612) TSR-TIME.

Preparing Cars for Winter Driving

Driving during the winter can be dangerous for many reasons. For example, your tires could lose traction on an icy roadway, causing you to lose control and crash into another vehicle or a fixed object.

That is why drivers need to make sure their vehicles are prepared before they go out on the road. Some of the vehicle components they need to check include the following:


Drivers need to make sure their tires are fully inflated. Underinflated tires can make it harder to control a vehicle. If your tires remain underinflated for too long, it could reduce their lifespan.

Overinflated tires are at higher risk for a blowout. This can be incredibly dangerous no matter what time of year. A tire blowout on a snowy or icy road could be even more dangerous.

You can inflate your tires yourself or take your car to a qualified mechanic to do it for you. If you go to a mechanic who regularly works on your car, he or she may inflate your tires for free. A mechanic can also inspect the treads on your tires to ensure they are not too worn down.

If you regularly encounter heavy snow or slippery roads, you should switch to snow tires.

Windshield Wipers

Another reasonable step drivers can take to prepare their cars for winter is making sure their windshield wipers are not too worn down. Old windshield wipers will not clear away snow or rain effectively, impairing visibility. This could make a crash much more likely to occur.

You can buy new windshield wipers or buy a set of winter windshield wiper blades. These are designed to clear away snow and prevent snow or ice from getting stuck on the blade.

Headlights and Taillights

Drivers need to make sure their headlights and taillights work. If your headlights do not work, or they do not work as well as they should, your visibility may be impaired. Ensuring the bulbs work and cleaning the lenses is also important.

Engine Oil

The oil in your engine loses viscosity in colder temperatures. This means your engine might not be properly lubricated. This could lead to a breakdown. This could happen at the wrong time, such as while your car is in motion which could cause a crash

You could switch to a winter-grade oil to help your engine continue to function at a high level.

Removing Snow or Ice From Your Vehicle

Drivers need to remove snow and ice from their vehicles before driving. Otherwise, snow or ice could fall off and cause another driver to get into a crash. Sometimes the crash that occurs only involves one vehicle. For example, ice may cause another driver to veer off the road and hit a tree or road sign. That said, another driver would still be liable for damages from the crash.

Building a Case for Poor Vehicle Maintenance

Drivers could be held liable for a crash that resulted from poor maintenance of their vehicle. Your lawyer needs to prove the crash was avoidable had the at-fault driver done a better job of maintaining his or her vehicle.

Your lawyer needs to thoroughly investigate the crash to determine what happened and work backward from that. For example, if the victim was rear-ended, your attorney must figure out what happened. Often the rear driver in a rear-end crash was distracted, speeding or following the lead vehicle too closely.

However, sometimes a rear-end crash is due to old tires that could not gain enough traction on the road. This may be more likely to happen in the winter because of ice or snow on the road, or because tires were old or underinflated. One way to think about it is the weather combined with the driver’s negligence is the reason for the crash. However, the weather cannot be held liable for a crash.

Pictures of the at-fault driver’s tires may be enough to show they were old and should have been replaced. For example, pictures may show the treads were worn down to an unsafe level. The sidewalls of tires also say when the tires were made. If the tires were old, it may be easier to assign fault to the driver for not replacing the tires.

If the lead driver’s broken taillights caused the crash, your lawyer may look to see if the lead driver had been cited by police for a broken taillight. If the driver had been cited, this is proof he or she knew about the problem and did not get it fixed. If a driver legitimately did not know about the broken taillight, it may be harder to assign fault to him or her. That said, it would be difficult for the at-fault driver to prove he or she did not know.

Contact Us Today to Discuss Your Crash

If you were injured because of another driver’s negligence we might be able to assist you in pursuing compensation for your damages.

Our firm takes cases on contingency, which means there are no upfront fees or legal obligations with our services. That means no fees before taking your case and no fees while pursuing compensation.

More than $1 billion recovered. Call today: (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.