Readers may remember that actor-comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in a serious truck accident back in June on the New Jersey Turnpike. That accident left Morgan in serious condition, injured two others, and killed comedian James McNair. Morgan subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against Walmart for its negligence in contributing to the truck accident.
An investigation of the accident showed that the trucker had been awake for over 24 hours at the time of the crash and was in violation of federal hours-of-service regulations. For this reason, Morgan asked for punitive damages in his claim—these damages are sometimes available when a trucker has violated federal law.
Recently, Walmart filed a response in court which attempts to deflect blame for the incident by accusing Morgan of failing to wear a seat belt. The response filing also claims that third parties may be partly responsible for his injuries. It is possible that these statements, particularly the latter, are standard legal arguments, but they have certainly upset Morgan, who has stated, “I can’t believe Walmart is blaming me for an accident that they caused.”
Though Walmart has said that it is committed to resolving the issue, it remains to be seen whether an out of court settlement will actually occur in the case. Morgan did not specify the amount of damages he is seeking, and that could affect the likelihood of an out of court settlement.
The case is an obvious example of the potentially fatal and damaging effects of truck driver negligence, and hopefully will lead to increased awareness of the issue and more folks working with experienced attorneys when they have been harmed by a negligent truck driver.
Source: CNN, “Tracy Morgan: I can’t believe Walmart is blaming,” Topher Gauk-Roger and Kevin Conlon, September 30, 2014.
Fill out the form below to receive a free and confidential consultation.