Welcome to Grand Rapids, the economic & cultural hub of western Michigan’s Kent County. Located on the Grand River, about 20 miles from Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids is home to nearly 200,000 residents, the boyhood home of President Gerald Ford, and one of the Midwest’s fasting growing cities.
Founded in 1826, Grand Rapids has been historically recognized as Furniture City. The city has since earned two additional monikers, Beer City and River City. Grand Rapids is also home to several higher learning institutions and two large urban nature centers. Five of the largest furniture manufacturers (including Herman Miller) and several large healthcare systems are based in Grand Rapids.
Grand Rapids’ first road was completed in 1855 – a private road that stretched from Kalamazoo to Wayland. Until then, most traveling through the county went by boat or canoe along many water passages, which was far easier than negotiating a continuous forest. The County Road Act (Public Act 283) was passed in the state in 1909, which allowed for a county road system to be legislated.
To legally drive in any Michigan county, the law requires the purchase of no-fault auto insurance. Driving without mandatory insurance is punishable as a misdemeanor. Michigan’s auto insurance law received a facelift, which became effective July 2020. New legislation reformed the current law (Public Acts 21 & 22 (2019)) to provide more affordable options to Michigan drivers.
Are you someone who has been involved in an automobile collision and injured in Grand Rapids? It’s essential to know what to do at the scene and immediately afterward. Decisions made at this time could potentially impact the rest of your life. There are various variables you must consider when involved or injured in a car accident in Grand Rapids which an experienced car accident attorney to advise you about your legal options.
What are the Underlying Causes of Grand Rapids Car Accidents?
Car accidents happen for many reasons, with many unavoidable situations. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (PNAS), most car accidents (90%) were the result of either driver awareness or driver performance factors. Studies performed at Stanford Law School offer similar conclusions.
If you or someone you know was in a car accident in the greater Grand Rapids metropolitan vicinity that was caused these underlying causes, the matter might include negligence, which offers a court resolution.
- Distracted Driving – The PNAS report reveals that inattentive/distracted driving is among the leading cause of automobile accidents. In addition, the same report reveals that more than 50% of drivers drive distracted, which doubles the risk of a car crash.
In Michigan, texting (reading, sending, or typing a message) while driving is illegal. Note that there are exceptions in the law for reporting crashes and other emergencies. And a driver has the potential to face a fine of $100 (1st Offense) and $200 for all subsequent violations.
CDC statistics reveal that teenagers and young adults are more likely to be distracted (or using a cell phone) while driving.
- Aged – 20-29: About ¼ of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes are in this age group.
- Aged – 15–19
- Among drivers involved in fatal crashes, this age group was distracted more often than drivers 20 and older.
- 8% of drivers in this age group of drivers who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the accident.
- About 9% of all teen car crashes that end in fatalities involved at least one distracted driver.
Relevant Distracted Driving Facts
There are three primary distracted driving classifications –
- Cognitive Distractions – when the driver focuses on something other than the road and driving
- Visual Distraction – when the driver takes their eyes off the highway or road.
- Manual Distraction – when the driver takes one or both hands off the steering wheel.
A driver using a handheld cellphone will likely be subject to all three types of distracted driving, which significantly increases the chances of causing or being in a car accident.
The CDC notes that statistics show that older teens, as well as young adults, are more likely to be distracted or use a cell phone.
- Reckless Driving – reckless driving is when a driver chooses to willfully ignore the rules of the road and, thus, the safety of others. If charged with driving recklessly, they may face a misdemeanor that is punishable as a criminal offense.
- Driving Under the Influence Or DWI – Driving While Impaired– Driving while intoxicated (which also includes being high) significantly impacts a driver’s ability to safely operate a car. The NHTSA – the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration issued a report noting that a car crash resulting from a drunk driver takes more than 10,000 lives each year. Every state has laws that prohibit driving while impaired due to the potential of catastrophic risk.
- Speeding is among the primary reasons for car accidents in Grand Rapids and is considered a type of reckless driving. About half of those drivers who speed also choose to ignore seatbelt laws, compared to law-abiding drivers who do not speed. It is estimated that a 1 km/hour increase in speed translates to an increased risk of injury by 3%.
- Poor Road Maintenance – Road-related factors also cause car accidents in Grand Rapids. Roadways improperly or inadequately maintained in accordance with safety standards that result in an accident may result in a lawsuit. According to WHO, these are the characteristics of poor road maintenance.
- Weather conditions make driving more dangerous.
- Roads that are poorly designed.
- Road Defects that may include –
- Random Debris
- Drop off Shoulders
- Uneven Payment
- Poor or Missing Signage
- Car Parts That Are Defective or Malfunctioning – which includes crash protections built into the automobile.
- Poorly Positioned Traffic Control Devices
- Road signs that become blocked by foliage and trees.
- A malfunctioning traffic light may lead to a car accident in Grand Rapids.
- Directional signs that are damaged or knocked to the ground, among others.
Grand Rapids, Michigan Car Accident Statistics
According to the MSP – the Michigan State Police, there were 17,056 car crashes in Kent County in 2020, which includes Grand Rapids. These car accidents caused 55 fatalities and nearly 4,200 injuries in Kent County alone. The accidents, categorized by road type of road, include –
- Interstate Roads – accounting for 1,524 crashes
- Local Streets – accounting for 10,531 crashes
- State Routes – accounting for 3,444 crashes
- US Routes – accounting for 1,557 crashes
Several roads in Grand Rapids have been recognized to be among the most dangerous in Michigan. Of the twenty most dangerous state roads, three are in Grand Rapids –
- US 131 at Wealthy Street
- Burton Street SW at US 131
- 28th Street SE at Division Avenue
2020 Year-End Data from the Traffic Crash Reporting System Managed by the Michigan State Police (MSP)
Of the more than 404,000 car accidents in Michigan in 2020, these were the defined hazardous actions that caused the car or vehicle crash:
- The Driver Was Unable to Stop – 45,227
- A Driver Failed to Yield – 34,404
- A Driver Who is Speeding – 22,391
- An Improper Lane Change – 10,054
- Careless Driving – 10,386
- Disregard for Traffic Control Devices – 9,700
- Improper Backing Up of Vehicle – 5,536
- An Improper Turn – 4,322
- Reckless Driving – 2,620
- Improper Passing – 2,366
- A Driver Drove to the Left of Center – 2,193
- A Driver Drove the Wrong Way On a One-Way – 371
- An Improper Signal or No Signal Use At All – 292
- Driving Too Slow – 140
- Other, None, Unknown, and Not Reported – 253,297
In 2019, injuries from a car accident for children ages 1 to 14 were the number one cause of unintentional fatalities. And nearly 2,800 car accidents involved cell phones in 2019, of which about 18% were drivers who were no older than 20 years old.
Immediate Concerns When Involved in a Car Crash In Grand Rapids
Stop to Ensure Everyone is Okay, Exchange Information, & Provide Aid
Michigan law, in general, requires any driver to stop at the scene of the accident, if there are sufficient reasons to believe they have just been involved in a car collision.
If you’ve been in an automobile accident, it is best to remain present and calm at least until each of the drivers has exchanged relevant information regarding the accident, which includes, at a bare minimum –
- Names of Drivers, Passengers & Pedestrians/Witnesses.
- Addresses of Drivers, Passengers & Pedestrians/Witnesses.
- Vehicle registration numbers for each party that is involved in the accident.
In addition, it is important to understand that you must also provide reasonable assistance in terms of medical aid or medical transportation for anyone injured. Failure may result in a felony charge. In an emergency, if exchanging information may be more harmful to an injured person, immediately contact the Grand Rapids police department to report the event.
In fact, according to the Grand Rapids Police Department, some car accidents can be reported online, if the auto accident resulted in no injuries, and the vehicles involved can be moved off the roadway to safety.
If you’ve been in a collision, you typically will be required to file a report at the nearest police station. Officially, a report is required if –
- Someone has been injured or killed.
- The total property damage appears to be $1,000 or more. Note that it can be challenging to determine an accurate accounting of necessary repairs or even if someone is injured at the time of the accident. When in doubt, side with caution and report the incident to the local police.
Do Your Best to Document the Car Accident/Incident
Depending on the severity of the accident and resulting injuries, there is typically a chance the resolution of the situation (injuries/damages) will be resolved as the result of the legal process. Details are often important in proving a point in a lawsuit. So, note the condition of the roads, weather, as well as the vehicle speeds and time of day. Anything unusual about the scene can be vital to proving responsibility. Even better, grab your phone and take multiple angles of the cars, road, and damage.
Recovering From the Car Accident in Grand Rapids
The Exception to No-Fault – The Mini Tort Option
If an insurance policy does not cover damage done in a wreck, the parties will be required to resolve their dispute in a “mini tort” case, which must be filed within three years (Michigan’s Civil Statute of Limitations) of the time of the damage. A Mini Tort involves the establishment of another’s fault, which can be challenging but insurmountable, especially when the victim is vigilant in detailing the events of the day and the days after the accident.
Michigan has a comparative fault rule of negligence. In cases of shared fault, Michigan follows a modified comparative negligence model with the awarding of damages.
Example – A driver has a standard collision policy with a $100 deductible. If he or she happened to be involved in an accident in which it has been determined that they were 50% at fault, they could sue the other responsible party for half their deductible.
No-fault automobile insurance is a requirement of Michigan law. Each Michigan car owner must purchase certain basic insurance coverage to be eligible for vehicle registration in the state. Note that in Michigan, it is unlawful to drive (or let your car be driven) without no-fault insurance in place. The mandatory policy includes these portions –
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – which reimburses for necessary medical costs and a part of your lost wages that resulted from the injury.
- Property Protection (PPI) – which pays damages to land, buildings, and other property (like fences) that belong to other individuals. Note: however, that Property Protection Insurance does not cover damage to another vehicle unless that damage occurred when the car/truck was parked legally and properly.
- Residual Liability Insurance — which includes Bodily Injury & Property Damage (BI/PD)
Michigan’s no-fault law protects insured persons from lawsuits that result from a car accident, except in certain special situations, which may include –
- A Michigan accident in which someone is seriously injured or killed.
- A Michigan accident in with a non-resident who is an occupant in another car that is not registered in Michigan.
- If the car collision or accident occurred outside Michigan’s jurisdiction.
Seeking Compensation for Injuries Sustained in a Grand Rapids Car Accident
Injured individuals receive compensation through Personal Injury Protection coverage. If you can pursue compensation because the events of the car accident meet one of the exceptions noted above, you, as the plaintiff, will be responsible for proving the elements of a personal injury claim. This includes negligence or proof of fault for the car accident.
If you, as the plaintiff, can establish that the other driver (the defendant) was negligent, you can then pursue compensation for a variety of expenses through the assertion of your rights. This includes lost wages, pain & suffering, and other damages.
Note that Michigan’s comparative negligence doctrine allows the defendant to present relevant evidence that suggests that there was negligence on the plaintiff’s part, which contributed to their own injuries/damages. If the jury concludes that the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to more than 50% of the fault, the plaintiff is disallowed from seeking recovery for non-economic damages, which include, for example, pain and suffering.
Have You Suffered From Injuries Caused By a Car Accident In Grand Rapids?
The legal consequences that result from a car accident vary. It may be a prudent idea to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. This is especially true if anyone was hurt or if alcohol or criminal activity may have played a part in the collision.
If you, another family member, or a close friend have suffered injuries or died as the result of a car accident in Grand Rapids, it is important to contact an experienced car accident attorney to handle the matter quickly. A trained lawyer can utilize their legal training, Michigan law, and experience to help ensure you receive and recover the damages you are entitled to.
Contact a Grand Rapids Car Accident Attorney
Any involvement in a car accident is stressful. Contacting a qualified car accident attorney in Grand Rapids is the best way to find peace of mind by determining who was responsible for the car crash. From an inability to work, the time and money required to recover from one’s injuries, and the lost wages, the aftermath of a car crash will likely be better and professionally managed by an experienced Grand Rapids attorney who possesses the skills required to help you receive what you deserve.