Roadwork crash leads to lawsuit

A rural mail carrier is suing the Ottawa County Road Commission after being injured in a crash with a county dump truck last spring.
Becky Vargo
Jan 17, 2014

Marty Norman of Grand Rapids is asking for more than $25,000 in damages from the May 8 crash.

Although the lawsuit targets the Road Commission, it specifically accuses driver Chad Horling of failure to keep his vehicle under control, “so as to avoid the collision with the plaintiff.”

The lawsuit says Norman was traveling east in the eastbound lane of Hayes Street at 10:46 a.m. that day. It says Horling was operating a county plow truck westbound in the eastbound lane and struck Norman’s vehicle, “causing a head-on collision that resulted in serious injury to the plaintiff.”

Road Commission Chairman Tom Bird said the county trucks were grading the gravel road at the time.

“The first truck loosens the gravel using a rake blade,” he explained. “The second truck spreads and levels.”

Bird declined to say anything further.

“We just don’t comment on pending litigation,” he said.

Information obtained from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department indicated the county trucks were putting up a large cloud of dust as they went down the road, creating poor visibility for other motorists.

Sgt. Steve Austin said the trucks were maintaining the road east of 84th Avenue in Polkton Township.

“(Norman) was in the process of delivering mail and was seated on the passenger side of his vehicle,” the Sheriff's Department's crash report says. “(Norman) had just backed out of the driveway on the south side of Hayes Street after a Road Commission truck had passed. (Norman) said it was very dusty and he could not see, but he drove eastbound on Hayes Street and struck the Road Commission truck that was grading the roadway.”

The driver of the Road Commission truck did not see the car until impact, the report says. The overhead lights on the county trucks were activated at the time.

Calls to Norman’s attorney for comment were not returned prior to press time.



Okay, let me get this straight.
The road commission employees were doing their job keeping the road grated. This creates a lot of dust and reduces visibility for a couple minutes. They had their caution signals on and they were in good working condition. It sounds to me like they were doing what they were supposed to do.

Now Mr. Norman backed out of a driveway and admitted he could not see due to the dust. He was hit by the truck that had his lights on.

How is this in any way the Road Commission Drivers fault? Mr. Norman failed to yield to the right of way causing an accident. How do they figure that Mr. Horling failed to keep his vehicle under control? If Mr. Horling had been injured, then there would be grounds for a lawsuit. The judge should simply ask, Why were you stupid enough to back out when you couldn't see? This frivolous suit should be tossed out and Mr. Norman should have to pay for wasted time.




Yes, he should have been paying more attention, and using common sense before backing out (I would never blindly back into a road when there is no visibility). I agree with you on that 100%.

The issue appears to stem from the road grader traveling westbound in the eastbound lane (once again, when there is no visibility).

It will be interesting to see how this turns out in court. I don't think either party was 100% at fault; they both appear to share the blame.


Way back when we had such a thing as personal responsibility, we looked both ways before entering the roadway or backing out of driveways, or... ahh the good old days.


Being accountable for our own actions is no longer the norm, or acceptable today within the growing entitlement mentality population, and all you really need is one of those fancy TV lawyers...


I went home for lunch one day this week. I turned on a 1/2 hour local news program. Durring that 1/2 hour 4 different law firms were pedaling there services, some more than once. Its to bad something can't be done about these blood suckers. One is now pushing the "disability express" .

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