Accidents & mishaps cost Grand Rapids $106,000

8:08 PM, Jan 10, 2014   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The city of Grand Rapids paid out $106,000 last year for claims ranging from falling trees to sewer back-ups.

From January through November, Grand Rapids settled 65 claims, mostly for cars and property damaged by city vehicles. Even with December data missing, payments are up 65 percent from 2012.

Mishaps include snow plows hitting cars, cars damaged by potholes and cars sprayed with asphalt.

Among those filing a claim was Tom Rysko, whose dog-eared fence was flattened by a city garbage truck last January. He submitted a repair estimate of $550; the city paid him $261 in August.

"They said they were only going to pay for the damage they did to a four-foot section,'' Rysko said. "I told them the fence panels come in 8-foot sections. It was an older fence and a little worn, but if a car's bumper is damaged, you replace the entire bumper, not half a bumper.''

City vehicles - from garbage trucks to fire trucks, were responsible for 25 claims totaling more than $38,000. Police cars were involved in about half. Police cruisers stuck utility poles, parked cars, even people on bikes.

Imagine finding your car covered with liquid asphalt. That's what happened to five people parked in a city lot under repair. Total cost to the city? $8,000.

The city paid $4,000 for cars damaged by potholes and $8,700 for cars hit by snow plows. Sewer backups were an expensive line-item, costing the city nearly $14,000 in May alone.

For every claim that is settled, many more are denied. They include people who've tripped walking across potholes and on sidewalks. Others trip on tree roots, street signs and sandbags around street signs. One person filed a claim after falling off a step outside TGI Fridays.

The largest single payout was $20,000 for sewage backup caused by a failed lift station. The smallest? $40 for a wallet lost by police.

All claims undergo an extensive review by city attorneys and risk management. Filing a claim can be done through the City's website,

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