Late last month, comedian Tracy Morgan and Walmart officials announced an undisclosed settlement to end a lawsuit involving a fatal truck accident that seriously injured Morgan and several others last year. The crash also killed Morgan’s friend and fellow comedian James McNair.
Over the past year, the case has earned national attention – not just because of Morgan’s fame, but also because circumstances surrounding the accident drew attention to Walmart’s questionable practices and the issue of truck driver fatigue.
Here are a few details about the crash:
- The crash occurred on June 7, 2014 on the New Jersey Turnpike when Morgan’s limo bus was rear-ended by a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer. Two passengers in the limo suffered injuries in the crash and another was killed. Morgan experienced serious injuries that left him in a coma and resulted in a lengthy recovery.
- The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the Walmart big rig was traveling 20 mph over the speed limit and that the truck driver had not slept in over 24 hours at the time of the crash.
- Federal investigators determined the Walmart trucker was nearing his drive limit – the federal limitation for how long a commercial driver can be on the road or on the clock. According to the NTSB, the driver also commuted over 11 hours from his home in Georgia to begin his shift in New Jersey, even though there were distribution centers closer to his home.
- The lawsuit – filed on behalf of Morgan, the two injured passengers, and the wife of a passenger who was pregnant at the time of the crash – alleged that Walmart was negligent for allowing its employee to travel such a long distance before beginning his shift. The driver has been criminally charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto.
Although the case may be settled, it continues to raise awareness about federal trucking regulations and the importance of laws that prevent fatigued and overworked tractor-trailer drivers from putting others at risk. Tired drivers are a danger to everyone on the road, especially when they’re at the wheel of a commercial truck that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.
To keep public roadways safe, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces a number of regulations for commercial trucks and passenger-carriers, including hours-of-service rules that specifically focus on tired truckers. Here are a few important HOS regulations for cargo-carrying truck drivers:
- 11-Hour Driving Limit – Truckers may only drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- 14-Hour Limit – Truckers cannot drive past the 14 th consecutive hour after coming on duty (following 10 consecutive hours off duty).
- Rest Breaks – Drivers must have mandatory rest breaks and can only drive if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of their last 30-minute break (some exceptions may apply for short-haul trucks).
At George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, our attorneys have helped thousands of victims put their lives back together after being harmed in all types of auto accidents, including serious truck accidents. Our knowledge of trucking laws and common violations can help victims fight for the compensation they need to cover their pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and more!
To learn more about your rights following a trucking accident or an accident involving a tired driver, give our team a call for a FREE consultation! We serve clients across South Carolina from multiple office locations.