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According to the latest data collected by the Department of Transportation, Minnesota experienced an increase in traffic accidents and related fatalities in 2021. In total, 63,751 crashes occurred, higher by 12% than the previous year, with 24,083 people injured and 488 killed. Compared to Minnesota’s population of 5.71 million, this translates to 1,116 crashes and 8.5 fatalities per 100,000 people. 

While the state has seen decreasing traffic accidents in the past decades, its 2021 fatality rate is also the highest since 2007. Reports reveal that most of these accidents happened in favorable driving conditions, with 72% of the fatal crashes occurring during good weather. The leading reasons for these crashes are speeding, drunk driving, and being distracted. Drivers who didn't wear their seat belts also caused injuries and deaths.

These statistics reveal that even in environments where roads and weather conditions are optimal, traffic accidents still occur in Minnesota due to the failure of motorists to practice road etiquette and follow safety regulations. As such, the state continues to promote awareness among drivers and passengers alike by reminding them of existing traffic laws and the guidelines involved in case one gets caught in an accident.

Minnesota’s Distracted Driving Law

Through its hands-free bill, Minnesota prohibits all motorists from using their mobile devices to send and read messages or access the internet while operating a vehicle or while their vehicle is in traffic. The law applies even if a motorist is near a stop sign or traffic light. This is to curb potential instances of distracted driving, which contributed to one in nine accidents within the state between 2016 and 2020; in 2020 alone, distracted driving caused accidents that resulted in 2,612 injuries and 29 fatalities. For teenage drivers, a total ban on cellphone use applies if they are still driving with an instruction permit or a provisional license. Exceptions include the need to call 911 for an emergency.

In addition to not using mobile phones, motorists are discouraged from engaging in activities that can disrupt their attention on the road, such as eating and drinking, chatting with other passengers, changing stations on the radio, tending to children, and grooming themselves.

Any motorist charged with distracted driving faces a minimum fine of $120 on their first offense; for second and subsequent offenses, this increases to at least $300. Offenders also risk facing increased insurance premiums for repeat violations, and those who injure or kill a person can be convicted of felony charges.

Speed Regulations in Minnesota

Because speeding is a leading factor in Minnesota car accidents, the state’s Department of Transportation requires all motorists to follow specific speed limits as they operate their vehicles. Different areas have various statutory limits assigned to them.

  • 10 mph within alleyways.

  • 30 mph on streets within urban areas.

  • 55 mph on all other roads not specified.

  • 65 mph on both expressways and urban interstate highways.

  • 70 mph on rural interstate highways.

In addition to these limits, drivers must know when to adjust their speed in accordance with conditions and factors that are present on the road. Those who fail to follow any specified limit are fined between $40 and $150, which is doubled if a motorist exceeds a given limit by 20 mph or if the violation occurred within a school zone. If a driver is convicted of speeding within a work zone where lanes are closed or workers are present, the penalty is a minimum fine of $300. Drivers who travel more than 100 mph also risk having their license suspended for six months.

A speeding violation is a misdemeanor if an offender has previously committed two infractions within the past year or if the violation results in the endangerment of other people or property. Potential penalties include up to $1,000 in fines or a maximum of 90 days in jail.

Minnesota’s Seat Belt Regulations

In Minnesota, everyone in a vehicle must wear a seat belt or an appropriate safety restraint, regardless of whether they are in the front or back seat. Unbelted drivers and passengers will be issued a ticket worth $25 and pay fees reaching more than $100. Drivers will also be ticketed if there are unbelted passengers who are 14 years old or younger in their vehicle, while those who are 15 and older will receive a ticket directly.

Continuing with the state’s seat belt laws, children are also required to ride in child safety seats until they reach the age of 8 or a height of 4’8”, after which they can begin using ordinary seat belts. Meanwhile, newborns and infants must be placed in rear-facing child seats until they turn one year old or reach a minimum weight of 20 pounds. Children may begin sitting in booster and forward-facing seats with harnesses once they reach the minimum age and weight limit required for such seats. Drivers are advised to let children keep using booster seats based on their height instead of their age.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Minnesota

Minnesota law dictates that any motorist operating a vehicle while having a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit of .08% is guilty of DWI. The threshold is even lower for commercial drivers, who may be convicted of a DWI charge if their BAC is more than .04%. Drivers under the age of 21 can be convicted of DWI, regardless of what their BAC level is.

Minnesota imposes different types of sanctions for DWI offenders based on how many offenses they have already committed.




First offense (classified as a misdemeanor)

A maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail

License suspension and the use of an ignition interlock device, with both lasting for 90 days (an offender may apply for a limited work permit after 15 days)

Second offense (classified as a gross misdemeanor)

A maximum fine of $3,000 and a minimum of 30 days in jail (or 8 hours of community service for each day less than 30 served)

License suspension and the use of an ignition interlock device, with both lasting for 1 year (an offender may apply for a limited work permit after the first 90 days of suspension)

Third offense (classified as a gross misdemeanor)

A maximum fine of $3,000 and at least 90 days in jail (with a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 consecutive days)

License suspension lasting for at least 3 years (an offender may apply for a limited license, after which they can operate a vehicle with full driving privileges while using an ignition interlock device for 2 years)

Fourth offense (classified as a felony)

A maximum fine of $14,000 and 6 months to 7 years in jail (with a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 consecutive days), followed by a conditional release of 5 years

License suspension lasting for at least 4 years and mandatory participation in an intensive probation program 

Fifth and subsequent offenses (classified as felonies)

A maximum fine of $14,000 and 1 to 7 years in jail (with a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 consecutive days), followed by a conditional release of 5 years

License suspension lasting for at least 6 years and mandatory participation in an intensive probation program 

In addition to these penalties, drunk drivers can have their license plates impounded and their vehicles forfeited if:

  • They already have a prior DWI conviction within the past 10 years.

  • They are driving with a passenger under the age of 16 while violating the law.

  • They are driving with a suspended, revoked, or canceled license while violating the law.

  • Their blood alcohol content reaches or exceeds .16%.

Minnesota also enforces implied consent regulations, which means if a person drives a car, they implicitly agree to undergo a chemical test to determine their blood alcohol level. Those who refuse to submit to a chemical test risk having their licenses suspended or revoked for one to six years.

Minnesota’s Hit-and-Run Law

Minnesota traffic laws decree that all motorists involved in a car accident must stop their vehicles, remain at the scene of the crash, exchange personal and insurance information with other drivers, and provide reasonable aid. They must also report the accident to local authorities and emergency service personnel, especially if there are injuries or deaths involved. Those who fail to follow these guidelines will be found guilty of a hit-and-run violation.

The following penalties apply for hit-and-run offenders who are not the cause of an accident:



The accident involves any property damage

A maximum fine of $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 90 days

The accident involves minor bodily injuries

A maximum fine of $3,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 1 year

The accident involves serious bodily injuries

A maximum fine of $4,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 2 years

The accident involves fatalities

A maximum fine of $5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years

On the other hand, hit-and-run offenders who are the cause of an accident can face stiffer sanctions.



The accident involves property damage

A maximum fine of $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 90 days

The accident involves minor bodily injuries

A maximum fine of $3,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 1 year

The accident involves substantial bodily injuries (including temporary disfigurement or impairment)

A maximum fine of $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years

The accident involves serious bodily injuries (causing a high probability of death)

A maximum fine of $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 5 years

The accident involves fatalities

A maximum fine of $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 15 years

Victims who are involved in a hit-and-run incident may utilize their uninsured motorist coverage to pay for costs that their personal injury protection policy cannot cover. This is because at-fault drivers who flee from an accident and cannot be located are treated as uninsured motorists.

Minnesota’s Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements

All motorists in Minnesota are required by law to carry liability, personal injury protection (PIP), and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) policies. These are used to cover the costs of injuries and damaged property after an accident, with UM/UIM coverage addressing potential expenditures when an at-fault driver has no insurance or does not have sufficient coverage for a victim’s expenses.

These are the minimum coverage amounts required by Minnesota law:

Insurance Type


Liability Coverage

$30,000 for the injuries of one person

$60,000 for the injuries of two or more people

$10,000 for damage to property or vehicles

Personal Injury Protection

$20,000 for medical expenses

$20,000 for additional costs and losses (replacement services, lost income, etc.)

This translates into a total of $40,000 per person per accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

$25,000 for the injuries of one person

$50,000 for the injuries of two or more people

Drivers can also obtain collision and comprehensive insurance coverage to supplement the aforementioned policies. Collision coverage is used to address repair costs for the damage that a motorist’s own vehicle sustains in an accident. Comprehensive coverage, on the other hand, covers losses caused by external factors other than an accident, including fires, theft, vandalism, and falling objects.

On their first and second offenses, people charged with driving without insurance face fines of up to $1,000, license suspension of up to 30 days, and community service requirements. On their third and subsequent offenses, the fine increases to $3,000, and their license suspension can last for up to 12 months. In addition, offenders can spend up to 90 days in jail and have their vehicle impounded. As part of the requirements for their license reinstatement, they must purchase an SR-22 form, which will also serve as proof of insurance.

Minnesota Is a No-Fault State for Insurance Claims

Minnesota follows no-fault laws for auto accident insurance claims. As such, motorists must use their own PIP coverage to cover their losses after an accident, regardless of who is held liable for the crash. PIP coverage is used to pay for medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs if someone dies in an accident, and replacement services if someone is hurt and can't do their chores or activities. If a victim files a liability claim against an at-fault driver, such a claim can only include losses that exceed the victim’s PIP coverage.

However, drivers can sue or file a third-party insurance claim outside the state's no-fault boundaries if their total reasonable medical costs are more than $4,000 and/or an injured person dies. This also applies if they have suffered a permanent injury, disfigurement, or disability for at least 60 days due to the accident. In these situations, non-economic damages like pain and suffering can be added to a victim's claim, even though they usually can't be in a no-fault situation. 

Minnesota Is a Modified Comparative Negligence State for Car Accident Lawsuits

Minnesota's laws on negligence are based on the idea of "modified comparative negligence," which says that a car accident plaintiff can't get compensation if the court finds that they were more than 50% to blame for the accident. In addition, their recoverable losses are reduced by the percentage of their assigned fault in the accident. When there are multiple parties at fault in a single accident, each party will pay damages equal to the amount assigned to them in court based on their apportioned fault. However, this does not apply to:

  • Those who commit an intentional tort.

  • Multiple people who act in a common plan that leads to a person’s injury.

In a car accident claim, negligence is proven by determining and proving the following elements:

  • A driver’s responsibility to follow traffic laws and ensuring the safety of other motorists, also referred to as a duty of reasonable care.

  • The driver’s breach of said duty, often through the violation of a traffic law or guideline.

  • The cause in fact, wherein a plaintiff’s injury would not have been caused if the other driver had not breached his duty.

  • Proximate cause, wherein the breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff’s injury.

  • Damages, wherein the plaintiff suffered losses as a result of said injury.

Minnesota’s Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents

The statute of limitations for car accident cases throughout Minnesota normally lasts for two years from the date of the crash. This deadline is put in place to give all parties in a case sufficient time to prepare their respective legal claims and relevant evidence. Victims who wish to recover damages once the two-year deadline has passed will have their respective claims or lawsuits dismissed.

The statute of limitations differs slightly in cases where a car accident victim dies from their injuries. In case a wrongful death claim is filed as a result, the statute begins at the date of the victim’s passing, lasting for up to three years. 

If a car accident case involves an individual who is either legally insane or under 18, Minnesota law decrees that the statute of limitations will only start once the person recovers or reaches 18 years of age. In cases involving the former, however, the extension to the statute of limitations lasts for only five years. Once the plaintiff recovers from insanity, any lawsuit or claim must be filed within one year afterward.

Lastly, in case a claim or lawsuit has not yet been filed and a potential defendant leaves Minnesota, state laws will not count the length of the defendant’s absence as part of the two-year countdown to the statute’s deadline.

Average Settlements for Minnesota Car Accident Lawsuits

Based on evaluations of jury verdicts in various personal injury cases, plaintiffs in Minnesota get an average of $30,000 in settlements. However, the actual settlement that a car accident victim can get varies from case to case due to the unique factors and circumstances involved. A total settlement is computed based on the economic and non-economic losses that a plaintiff has suffered. These losses are also assessed by how they might affect the plaintiff's day-to-day life and long-term recovery.

Economic damages, which are also referred to as compensatory damages, can include:

  • A victim’s present and future medical expenditures.

  • Repair costs for a damaged vehicle or property.

  • Lost income caused by a victim’s inability to work or find work while recovering from injury or disability.

  • Funeral costs for victims who die as a result of their injuries.

  • Additional expenses, such as replacement services for those who cannot accomplish chores due to their injuries.

Meanwhile, non-economic damages are based on elements such as:

  • A victim’s loss of quality of life.

  • Loss of consortium.

  • Pain and suffering.

  • Emotional distress caused by trauma or anxiety stemming from the accident.

Minnesota does not limit the potential damages that a plaintiff may recover in a case. These include punitive damages, which are awarded in rare cases where it is proven that an at-fault motorist willfully and knowingly put the lives of other road users in danger. 

Legal Resources for Minnesota Car Accident Victims

InjuryLawRights - Minnesota

Injury Law Rights is an organization dedicated to providing legal aid regarding personal injury matters for people from all over the country, including Minnesota. It helps car accident victims reach pro bono lawyers from various areas within the state to help them assess their options for a lawsuit or injury claim. It also connects potential clients with attorneys who can provide them with free case evaluations and supplemental information concerning the factors involved in their respective cases.

Minnesota citizens can reach Injury Law Rights personnel by visiting the organization’s website or by dialing 1-855-633-0888.

Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service

The Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MLRIS), which is sponsored by both the Ramsey and Hennepin County Bar Associations, is a public service that provides informative legal assistance for residents throughout the state. Its referral counselors guide clients in assessing their legal concerns and in choosing an attorney from a roster consisting of more than 200 different lawyers. They also offer access to various relevant resources that help citizens learn about state laws and guidelines applicable to the circumstances within their case.

Car accident victims in Minnesota can dial (612) 752-6699 or send an e-mail to for additional inquiries.

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