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Grand Rapids Personal Injury Blog

Truck driver dies in collision with passenger vehicle

At about 6:36 a.m. on Jan. 14, Michigan authorities were alerted to a crash involving a pickup truck and a commercial vehicle. The crash took place near the junction of South Custer and Herr roads in Monroe Township. Police said that the pickup truck made a lane change after the vehicle in front of it stopped at a red light. This resulted in the semi colliding with the rear of the pickup.

The collision caused the load that the driver was carrying to enter the cab, which resulted in the commercial truck driver's death. Although the pickup's driver was transported to Beaumont Hospital for treatment, his injuries were not considered to be serious. Authorities closed South Custer road while they investigated the crash, and they asked anyone with information regarding the incident to contact them.

Injuries to the lumbar spinal cord

Of the three major portions of the spine (cervical, thoracic and lumbar), the lumbar is the lowest. Since it carries the greatest weight, its vertebrae are the largest in the spine. The vertebrae and nerves are designated, from top to bottom, as L-1 to L-5. Lumbar spinal cord injuries will vary in severity based on which nerve is damaged, so Michigan residents will want to be knowledgeable about the differences.

Generally, lumbar spinal cord injuries will result in a loss of function in the legs and hips and little to no control over bowel or bladder movements. Injuries to the L-1 and L-2 nerves result in the inability to bend and flex the hips. With L-3 injuries come the compromised ability to straighten the knee. One cannot bend the foot upward with an L-4 injury. An injured L-5 nerve will keep patients from extending their toes.

Deadly trucking accidents have parents upset with U.S. lawmakers

Michigan parents should know that attempts to get a federal bill passed to require better and more underride guards on big rigs in this country have been delayed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It has been a year since the Stop Underrides Act 2017 was introduced, and parents who have lost children in an underride crash are still waiting for a hearing on the bill to be scheduled. They are hoping it comes about when the new Congress convenes in January.

Current federal requirements for the underride guards on the back end of big trucks are not adequate to protect the occupants in a multi-vehicle crash even at a low speed. At the urging of citizens, U.S. Senator Todd Young, R-Indiana, is giving the bill his attention, and he could attend underride crash tests planned to be performed in Washington D.C. in early spring 2019. The bill would require new standards to improve existing rear guards and add side and front guards on trucks. Trucking manufacturers are making progress now toward strengthening the underride guards on their trucks.

Woman killed in two-car collision

On Nov. 30, a 24-year-old Michigan woman was killed in a two-vehicle collision in Bertrand Township. The victim had recently completed an internship with the Grand Rapids Symphony.

According to the Berrien County Sheriff's Office, the woman was driving her Chrysler Sebring off the southbound US-31 bypass at around 11:39 a.m. when she was struck in the driver's door by a pickup truck traveling west on US-12. The collision forced both vehicles into the median and killed the woman, who was a native of Korea and a student at Andrews University in Berrien Springs.

Fatal truck crashes rise 9 percent, HOS rules may be to blame

Commercial truckers in Michigan should know that more and more drivers in their industry are getting involved in fatal crashes. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that 4,761 people (including about 1,300 truckers) were killed in large-truck crashes in 2017. This was a 9 percent increase from the previous year and the highest level in 29 years.

Representatives of the trucking industry have spoken up about the results and what they believe is behind it all. First, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been singled out for mandating that commercial truckers take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive work hours. Many believe that the break creates unnecessary delays and makes truckers drowsy before their shifts are even done. A further concern is that delays lead to speeding.

Michigan is one of the deadliest states for winter driving

One of the dangers of being a resident of Michigan is having to deal with the brutal winters. Just how bad are the winters here, Michigan was recently ranked as the second most miserable state in the U.S. for its winter. One of the tragic results of living in a place that has such cruel winters is the horrific and even deadly outcomes of accidents out on our roads.

From 2011 to 2015 there were nearly 4,000 Americans who were killed while driving on the ice and snow during the winter months. Michigan once again came in second, this time for the highest amount of winter driving deaths, just behind Ohio.

Car accidents top cause of unintentional death in U.S.

Michigan readers may not be aware that unintentional injury is the top cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 44. These deaths happen in a number of ways, including through accidental poisonings, house fires and falls. However, car accidents claim the most lives by far.

Federal statistics show that over 32,000 people are killed in car crashes every year. In recent years, that number has been even higher. Studies show that most motor vehicle accidents are related to human error. This means that most victims die in preventable accidents caused by drunk, distracted or reckless drivers. Some victims also die because of their own choice not to wear a seat belt. Luckily, there are several simple things drivers and passengers can do to reduce their risk of becoming a government statistic.

M-91 head-on collision in Turk Lake kills kindergarten teacher

Information provided by the Michigan State Police at the Lakeview Post indicated that a 2007 Chevy Silverado crossed the center line on Michigan Highway 91 and caused a fatal head-on collision with a 2016 GMC Yukon. The Montcalm Township fire chief confirmed that the crash took place near the Turk Lake Restaurant & Bar. The 53-year-old woman driving the Yukon died. Bystanders removed her 19-month-old granddaughter from a car seat in the vehicle's back seat. The girl is expected to recover from her minor injuries.

The fire chief was well acquainted with the female victim and dismayed to see her condition when he arrived at the scene of the accident. Emergency personnel transported the woman to Spectrum Health United Hospital, where she was declared dead. The woman lived in Six Lakes and was a cherished kindergarten teacher in Howard City. Students that she taught earlier in her career were known to request her as the teacher for their children.

2017 saw 9 percent rise in large truck traffic fatalities

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has revealed that the number of large truck roadway fatalities went up 9 percent from 2016 to 2017. This is in spite of the fact that the number of vehicle deaths went down 1.8 percent during the same period. Michigan residents, especially those who work in the trucking industry, will want to pay attention to the details of these statistics.

The NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System shows that 37,133 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2017; that was 673 fewer deaths than in 2016. As for those killed in large truck crashes (with "large" being defined as having a gross vehicle weight rating higher than 10,000 pounds), fatalities went up from 4,369 to 4,761.

2 killed in Isabella County crash

On Sept. 17, two people were killed in a two-car collision in Michigan. The accident occurred in Isabella County. According to the Isabella County Sheriff's Office, deputies were dispatched to the scene of a crash at the intersection of Leaton Road and Pere Marquette Rail-Trail. Once on the scene, they discovered that a 2003 Chevy Trailblazer had failed to stop at a stop sign and smashed into a 2014 Ford Fusion.

The occupants of the Ford, an 81-year-old man and an 83-year-old woman, both Sanford residents, died in the impact. The driver of the Chevy, a woman from Clare, and her unidentified passenger suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

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