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Three things to know about winter chain-reaction crashes

AdobeStock_131430945.jpegWhen winter weather is at its worst, ice and snow can cause a spike in vehicle collisions and spin outs. During a snowstorm that recently hit the Twin Cities area, a 17-car pile-up shut down Interstate 694 between Vadnais Heights and Shoreview for at least an hour.

This incident did not cause any life-threatening injuries, although serious injuries are commonly caused by car crashes like this one. Additionally, crashes like this one can quickly become an insurance tangle. However, there are three considerations for drivers to keep in mind about winter chain-reaction crashes.

Unsafe driving can still be considered negligent

If the weather conditions warrant it, you are legally required to slow down. You must also leave plenty of space between you and other vehicles, and if the weather is poor, that space should be larger. You are also responsible for making sure your windshield and headlights are clear of snow and ice and that your vehicle is up to date on maintenance tasks, like replacing windshield wiper blades or burnt out headlamps. If you are not driving safely for the conditions, you could be found legally liable for causing an accident.

Even if you contributed, you may be able to seek compensation

Sometimes the driver who started the chain reaction is found liable, but sometimes the pile-up is found to have been caused by the actions of several drivers. In Minnesota, you can be partially at fault for an accident, but typically that does not prohibit you from seeking compensation from another driver if that driver's negligence caused you a serious injury. However, it may affect the amount of money you receive.

No-fault coverage must be used first

Minnesota drivers are required to have no-fault coverage. If you are injured in a car crash, your no-fault coverage will pay for medical expenses, wage loss and other costs associated with your injury. If you exhaust the funds available to you through your own car insurance you may still be able to seek compensation from a negligent driver.

To avoid potential crashes, be sure to practice safe driving skills, especially when weather conditions are poor. However, sometimes crashes still happen. If you are seriously injured in a car crash, there are ways you may be able to seek compensation for expenses related to your injury.

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