Bad Weather Ahead in Minnesota: Did You Know You Are Legally Obligated to Drive Safe?

Arthur C. Kosieradzki - SiebenCarey "Know Your Rights" AttorneyFebruary 21, 2017

For those of us living in Minnesota, a winter snow storm can cause driving anxiety. We anxiously watch the news, visit and try to stay informed about what lurks ahead. These precautions make sense because various conditions such as ice, heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, can drastically increase the possibility of a car accident. But did you know that bad weather also increases a driver’s legal responsibility to protect others as well? 

When a winter storm hits and you must venture out onto the roads, you may have to adjust some of your driving habits to protect yourself and those around you. After practicing personal injury law for nearly 30 years, I’ve seen way too many tragic mistakes caused by winter driving negligence.

From a legal standpoint, we look to see if a driver was negligent when assessing responsibility. Negligence is generally defined as “the failure to exercise such care as a person of ordinary prudence would usually exercise under the same or similar circumstances.” For example, if you are driving on an icy road with the posted speed limit at 55 mph but are having problems maintaining control, you can be found negligent in a crash even if driving at the posted speed. If you are found negligent, you may be responsible for everything that happens in a crash, including property damage, medical bills, wage loss as well as pain, suffering and emotional distress. 

The best way to avoid an accident and legal liability is to simply drive safe. Here are some tips from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety on how to stay safe while driving in bad winter weather:

-Avoid unnecessary travel if conditions are poor.

-Buckle up and make sure child restraints are tightly secured. It is recommended to use bulky clothes and blankets on top of the child restraint harness, not beneath, to ensure harness restraints fit properly.

-Drive at safe speeds according to road conditions, and provide for plenty of travel time.

-Increase safe stopping distance between vehicles.

-Use extra precaution when driving around snowplows by keeping at least five car-lengths behind plows.

-If skidding, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.

-If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply a steady firm pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump ABS brakes.

-Clear snow and ice from vehicle windows, hood, headlights, brake lights and directional signals.

-Headlights must be turned on when it is snowing or sleeting.

-Do not use cruise control on snowy/icy/wet roads.

-Equip vehicles with a scraper/brush, small shovel, jumper cables, tow chain and a bag of sand or cat litter for tire traction. Blanket(s), heavy boots, warm clothing and flashlights are also important, as are storing high-energy foods such as chocolate or energy bars.

-Be sure cell phones are charged for long trips, and inform family of destination plans and schedule.

-If stranded, stay in the vehicle.

-Parents of teen drivers should make sure new motorists experience snow and ice driving in a safe environment, such as an empty parking lot.

-For weather-related road condition information, call 5-1-1 or visit

Bottom line: Weather does play a role in impacting your responsibility to others, so keep safe driving in mind and remember that your legal responsibility can change with each and every snowfall. With more than 25 years of experience dealing exclusively with personal injury accidents, I would be happy to assist and answer any questions regarding this area of the law. I’m a senior trial specialist, have been awarded “Best Lawyers in America,” and have been recognized by Thomsen Reuters as a Super Lawyer every year since the inception of the award. If you have questions, feel free to call me at 952-469-2288 or email me at

Client Reviews

out of 200 reviews
Renee Goneau

SiebenCarey is a great personal injury law firm that really cares about their clients.  Highly recommend!

Carly R.

My boyfriend was hit by a car and while all the attorneys he talked to said he didn't have much chance of a case, SiebenCarey took him on and gave him a fighting chance. He's still recovering, but SiebenCarey is making it a lot easier.

Jazz Smith

SiebenCarey is a professional and dedicated law organization that help accident victim.

St. Paul Local 12

Thanks for everything, your experience paid off BIG!!!

Jenna L. at Insider Pages

I have had nothing but great service with these guys. They are very knowledgable on a wide variety of subjects and topic. They will help you with any case you need!

Eric Petoletti

Even though I was states away and could only talk on the phone, they listened and did everything that they could to win my case. I felt like I was a part of the family.

Jesse Bukal

In need of a personal injury attorney? Well you're if you're reading this you're in the right place. You'd be hard pressed to find more competent attorneys than the ones here at SiebenCarey.

They took my case to trial and an amazing job presenting the facts and fighting for my best interests! Three years ago I was unsure of what my future would bring; now that it's over I can rest a bit easier. With SiebenCarey as my counsel, I believe I had the absolute BEST representation a person could've asked for. I knew that I wanted the absolute best representation when searching for an attorney to handle my case and I most definitely received it.

If you need a personal injury attorney, look no further. Can't recommend highly enough.

Daniel Ball

Really good professionals, they solved my issues in no time using the most impressive and advanced approach. Really good, highly recommended.

Morgan Petoletti

My husband had an amazing experience with this firm. They listened and took the time to understand our case.

Sharon Jensen

Jim Carey and his staff were great. Returned calls promptly and answered any and all questions in layman's terms for me. Exceeded my expectations. I've already told family and friends that if any of them should need personal injury representation to contact SiebenCarey. I wouldn't hesitate to contact them again if necessary.

Award Winning Know Your Rights Attorneys

Certified Civil Trial Law Specialists

8 Certified Civil Trial Law Specialists, Minnesota Bar Association
3 Board Certified Trial Advocates, National Board of Trial Advocacy.

2022 Super Lawyers

Also awarded in:
2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008

2022 Best Lawyers in America©

Also awarded in:
2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.

2022 U.S. News Best Law Firms

Also awarded in:
2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010

Attorneys of the Year

5 of our attorneys have been recognized as Attorneys of the Year