Author: P. Christopher Guedri, Richmond, VA Personal Injury Attorney
National media has covered the developments following the car crash that injured actor/comedian Tracey Morgan, including suits filed by the victims against Wal-Mart. Following the crash, both Morgan and the family of James McNair, the man killed in the crash, filed suits against Wal-Mart. They charged the company with negligence for failing to monitor and correct the amount of time its truck drivers are on the road. The sides settled in May, with Wal-Mart taking responsibility for the accident and expressing regret that it happened. Originally, Morgan was seeking punitive damages in addition to compensation for his injuries, putting the awareness of the risks of unsafe driving in the spotlight.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, truck drivers can drive no more than 11 hours at a time and cannot work in shifts longer than 14 hours. The truck driver involved, Kevin Roper, was within both of these requirements when the collision took place. However, Roper had been awake for 24 hours prior to the crash as the result of a 700-mile commute from his home in Georgia to the plant in Delaware prior to starting his shift.
The police report indicated that Roper failed to notice that traffic had slowed in front of him until it was too late to avoid the collision, likely as a result of drowsiness. Also according to the report, Roper was travelling 65 miles per hour when his truck collided with Morgan’s van, 20 miles over the posted speed limit. The truck, weighing approximately 80,000 lb., slammed into the back of Morgan’s 6,000 lb. vehicle, pushing it into other cars and flipping it onto its side.
Morgan is still recovering from the injuries he suffered in the crash, which included 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.
The fact that the NTSB’s regulations were followed and had little, if any, bearing on the resulting crash. Where federal regulations fail to protect the public, it is up to the companies involved to ensure that their practices are safe. Hopefully Wal-Mart, along with other companies that have similar shipping practices, accepts this responsibility.
About The Author: Chris Guedri was named "Lawyer of the Year 2015" by Best Lawyers in America for Personal Injury-Plantiff's in Richmond, VA. He is an attorney with more than 30 years of experience and he practices with the law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen.
 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