In what is probably the least surprising story of the year, the NY Times has reported that Tracy Morgan has filed suit against Walmart for the deadly truck accident he was involved in near Atlantic City. Anyone not living under a rock for the past few months knows that the actor and comedian were very seriously injured in the accident caused by a Walmart tractor-trailer, which also killed comedian Jimmy Mack.
Commercial trucking accidents, like this one, are often very serious because of the sheer size and mass of the trucks and the load they are carrying. Tractor trailers crashing into a common car are absolutely no match and result in serious accidents such as those sustained by Tracy Morgan.
The NHTSA and other organizations set standards by which commercial truck drivers should operate. In addition to having a specialty license, the CDL, commercial truckers must operate within a particular set of safety standards. For instance, speed must be controlled and drivers should not drive for more than 8 hours at a time. Drivers need to take frequent breaks and get enough sleep on the road else they are prone to lapses in concentration that lead to tragic accidents. In this case, it has been reported that the driver had not slept in over 24 hours and was driving for 13 hours straight. These are pretty serious violations of safety standards. Truck drivers are responsible for meeting deadlines and in some cases get paid by the mile so it is financially lucrative for them to drive even when tired to make sure the delivery is on time and they are maximizing profits. This, however, runs contrary to known safety standards.
Walmart as the employer of this driver and presumably as an owner of the truck can be named as a defendant in this matter because an employer is vicariously liable for the negligence of its employees. This means that if an employee, in the course of his work, injures a person the employer can be sued as well. Walmart could also potentially be sued as the owner of the tractor-trailer if that is the case here.
If you or a friend or family member has been injured in an accident caused by a tractor-trailer or other commercial vehicle, contact our office right away for a free consultation. These cases can be complex with multiple possible defendants and serious injuries.