On June 7th, 2014, a multi-vehicle truck accident, involving a Walmart tractor-trailer and a limousine van, occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike. The limo was carrying the well-known comedian, Tracy Morgan. Although sustaining serious injuries, including head trauma, a broken leg, broken ribs, and a broken nose, Mr. Morgan made it out alive. The same cannot be said for his good friend and fellow comedian, James McNair (aka Jimmy Mack), who tragically died in the accident. Two other passengers were also seriously injured. All were hospitalized for weeks.
The truck driver, Kevin Roper, faced several charges, including death by auto and assault by auto. “According to the criminal report, Roper operated a truck without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours, resulting in a motor vehicle accident.” It was also estimated that Roper was going about 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, which at the time, was reduced due to construction.
According to regulations set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), property-carrying drivers can work up to 14 hours per day, with a maximum of 11 hours spent driving. Ten consecutive off-duty hours must be taken between shifts. The idea is that drivers will not be overly sleep-deprived with these hours, and therefore, they will not put other drivers at risk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about five to six thousand crashes per year may be caused by drowsy or sleep-deprived driving.
Despite this tragic accident, Walmart is consistently listed as having one of the safest fleets in America. A quick view of Walmart’s website lists the awards that they have received throughout the years. It states that they have had “16 ATA National Driving Champions since 1999,” they are a “2 time ATA Super Tech Champion since 2005,” and they have received “numerous state ‘Safest Fleet’ awards each year.”
After a long and difficult battle, those affected by the truck accident are starting to finally receive settlements. The family of James McNair reached a $10 million agreement in early 2015, and Tracy Morgan received an undisclosed amount in May 2015.
“There’s nothing we can do to change what happened,” Walmart said. “Walmart and the McNair family have worked closely together to reach an agreement. Walmart continues to work with others involved in the accident and we will continue to do what’s right.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a truck accident contact an attorney to discuss your rights. Truck accidents are not the same as car accidents and different steps need to be taken to preserve and support your claim. Our consultations are always free and there are no obligations. You can speak with an attorney directly by calling 317-660-2548 or click here to submit a “Get Help Now” form.