Last year, actor/comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured in a car. The crash killed one and injured two other passengers in his vehicle. Morgan, 45, was on his way back to New York following a show in Delaware. His vehicle was struck from behind by a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer. The collision caused a chain reaction. Six cars were involved in the crash.
The truck’s driver, Kevin Roper, was charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. Roper had been awake for 24 hours prior to the accident. He had been on the road for more than nine hours when he rear-ended Morgan’s vehicle. The police report indicated that he failed to notice that traffic had slowed in front of him. It was too late to avoid the collision.
According to the report, Roper was travelling 65 miles per hour, 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, when his truck rear-ended Morgan’s van. 80,000 lb.  slammed into the back of Morgan’s 6,000 lb. vehicle, pushing it into other cars before flipping onto its side.
Both Morgan and the family of James McNair, the man killed in the crash, filed suits. Wal-Mart was charged with negligence based on its failure to monitor and correct the amount of time its drivers are on the road. The cases settled in May, with Wal-Mart taking responsibility for the accident and expressing regret. Originally, Morgan was seeking punitive damages in addition to compensation for his injuries, putting the risks of unsafe driving in the spotlight.
Morgan is still recovering from several broken bones and brain trauma. He has expressed gratitude toward Wal-Mart following the settlement, thanking them for taking care of him and his friend’s family. Whether the settlement will have any impact on Wal-Mart’s shipping practices or procedures is still unclear.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), truck drivers can drive no more than 11 hours at a time and cannot work in shifts longer than 14 hours. Roper was within both of these requirements. However, Roper had been awake for 24 hours because of a 700-mile commute from his home in Georgia to the plant in Delaware prior to starting his shift.
The fact that the NTSB’s regulations were followed had little, if any, bearing on preventing the crash. Where federal regulations fail to protect the public, it is up to the companies to ensure that their practices are safe. We hope that companies accept this responsibility.
The personal injury attorneys at Allen, Allen, Allen and Allen have experience helping people injured in tractor trailer crashes and are familiar with the special characteristics of these vehicles. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a tractor trailer accident, contact The Allen Law Firm at 866-388-1307 for a free consultation.
About The Author: Trent Kerns is a Partner and President of the Allen Law Firm. For more than 30 years, Trent has been advocating for clients who have been injured due to no fault of their own. He currently works out of the Richmond, VA office.
 http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2015/05/27/tracy-morgan-walmart-reach-settlement/28024775/; http://www.chris-guedri.com/blog/tracy-morgan-and-wal-mart-a-comedians-tragic-accident-provides-a-cautionary-tale.html