In June 2014, truck driver scheduling and tractor trailer safety made headlines when comedian Tracy Morgan’s limousine van was struck on the New Jersey Turnpike, injuring Morgan and killing another passenger in his vehicle. Morgan, who was hospitalized and is now recovering from several broken bones, is suing Walmart, the company that owned the truck and hired the driver. The driver was brought up on charges of assault by automobile and vehicular homicide.
In the police reports, the Walmart truck was going more than 20 miles per hour over posted speed limits. Driver Kevin Roper had been awake for more than 24 hours prior to the accident and Morgan believes Roper fell asleep, causing the accident that injured Morgan and killed James McNair, another comedian who was riding in Morgan’s limousine. The claim implies that Walmart shares responsibility for the accident, setting an unsafe driving schedule for Roper, which indirectly caused the accident.
Injured comedian holds company responsible for putting a drowsy driver on the road
The celebrity nature of this incident puts companies that own and operate tractor-trailers in the spotlight, holding them responsible for their drivers’ behavior. While laws are in place that limit the number of hours a driver can operate a vehicle without resting, who should be held at fault if a driver exceeds those limits? What if the driver was reaching the maximum limit when the accident happened? It is less clear, in these cases, whether the company should be held accountable for their drivers’ conduct.
Morgan’s suit also claims that the Walmart truck’s onboard safety features failed to activate. This includes an automatic braking system, which may have reduced the impact of the collision or avoided the crash altogether had it been functioning properly. A system failure or lack of upkeep suggests that Walmart was negligent in maintaining its fleet.
While this sort of case may become a question of judgment: Did the company have proper policies in place? Was Kevin Roper reckless and, if so, is Walmart responsible for hiring a driver with poor judgment? Regardless, with a well-known celebrity and a national retail chain involved, the case will likely set a new precedent for the level of accountability companies carry for their trucks and drivers on the road.
McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC: Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyers Advocate for the Rights of Injured Victims
Comedian Tracy Morgan has access to more resources and legal channels than most people, but everyone should be able to work with a determined, knowledgeable law firm to help secure compensation for their injuries. The Philadelphia truck accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC encourage anyone involved in any type of truck accident to contact their Philadelphia office to discuss who is really at fault and determine their best course of legal action. For a free consultation, call the law firm of McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC at 215-569-8488 or contact us online.