Walmart said in court documents that actor-comedian Tracy Morgan was at least partly to blame for his near-fatal injuries this past June because he was not wearing his seat belt. Morgan was riding in a limousine bus that was struck from behind by a Walmart truck, reported ABC News (9.29.14).
The collision was part of a six-car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. The accident killed James McNair and injured three other passengers.
The federal court filing was in response to the lawsuit Morgan filed against Walmart in U.S. District Court in New Jersey in July. In his lawsuit, Morgan accused the company of negligence. Kevin Roper, 35, the driver of the Walmart truck had reportedly been awake for more than 24 hours before the accident. To get to his job, he had commuted more than 700 miles from his home in Georgia to a Walmart facility in Delaware.
If true, his work schedule was not in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. The lawsuit from Morgan and others claims that Walmart “should have known” Roper was awake for more than a full day before the accident which was said to be “a result of Mr. Roper’s fatigue.”
According to ABC News, Walmart denied allegations of recklessness and negligence and claimed the injuries happened “by failure to wear an appropriate available seat belt restraint device.” The company added that if Morgan and the other passengers had been wearing safety restraints, “all or a portion of the injuries could have been diminished or minimized.”
This is actually not a unique argument. If people are injured in a collision but were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident, insurance companies and their defense lawyers will attempt to argue that there would have been either no injuries or significantly less serious injuries if seat belts had been worn. In making this argument, the defense seeks to prove “comparative negligence” in causing the injuries that were suffered during an accident. To use this defense, however, it must be proven that the lack of seatbelt contributed to, or was a cause of injuries.
An experienced auto accident lawyer will seek every appropriate means available to attempt to prove that his or her client’s injuries were caused by the negligent driver, not from a failure to wear a seatbelt. The lawyer may work with expert accident reconstructionists and biomechanical engineers to demonstrate that serious injuries would have occurred even if a seatbelt was worn at the time of the accident. These actions can help get the injured victims the compensation they deserve.
There was no response from Walmart regarding the claims that Roper had driven hundreds of miles and was fatigued. Walmart did say “the plaintiffs’ alleged damages may have been caused by third parties over whom Walmart had no control,” reported ABC News.
Roper had been charged with causing the accident by falling asleep while driving, reported ABC News.
Morgan suffered multiple fractures that required a number of surgeries, extensive medical treatment and will need to undergo significant physical rehabilitation.
Morgan, 45, starred on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock.”
If you or a loved one is seriously injured in an auto accident caused by a negligent driver, contact the auto accident attorneys at The Perecman Firm at 212-977-7033.
The ABC News story cited is “Walmart Alleges Tracy Morgan Crash Injuries From Not Wearing Seat Belt.”
The Hollywood Reporter story with a link to Tracy’s Morgan’s complaint is “Tracy Morgan Sues Walmart Over Deadly Crash.”