The NY lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy, LLP continue to follow the tragic trucking accident that occurred last weekend on the New Jersey Turnpike, which severely injured former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” cast member Tracy Morgan. When the Walmart tractor-trailer operated by Kevin Roper crashed into the rear of Morgan’s Mercedes limo bus on a busy stretch of the Turnpike around 1 a.m. on Saturday, it injured four and took the life of comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair.
Morgan remains hospitalized in critical condition with reported injuries including a broken femur, broken nose and multiple rib fractures. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who mourn Mr. McNair, and with the surviving victims who are struggling to recover from their injuries.
The 35 year old Walmart trucker has been criminally charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. According to the criminal complaint, the truck driver had not slept for more than 24 hours prior to the collision. Under New Jersey law, a driver can be charged with assault by auto if he causes injury after knowingly operating a vehicle after being awake for more than 24 hours. In a similar vein, federal regulations permit truck drivers to work only up to 14 hours per day, with a maximum of 11 hours of actual driving time, and drivers must have at least 10 hours off between shifts to sleep. Both the New Jersey law and this regulation seem eminently sensible, but unfortunately are not always adhered to. When a tired driver gets behind the wheel, he or she is putting everyone on the road at risk; and that risk is only heightened when the vehicle is a massive tractor-trailer.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent Federal agency charged with investigating significant highway collisions, is already investigating the incident.
We are glad authorities are working to uncover the causes of this horrible collision. Our firm has represented injured victims of tractor-trailer accidents for years, and we understand that when large trucks are involved, there is no such thing as a minor accident. Regulations governing the operation of trucks are critical to everyone’s safety, but they can only be effective when they are appropriately and aggressively enforced. Civil lawsuits involving personal injury and wrongful death claims are another effective means to investigate truck accidents and hold the responsible parties accountable for the damage caused.
Walmart released a statement through its president and CEO Bill Simon assuring that, “If it’s determined that our truck caused the accident, Walmart will take full responsibility.” We certainly hope they will, but in our experience it is only through the vigorous prosecution of a lawsuit by experienced injury attorneys that wrongdoers are compelled to pay fair value for the injuries they have caused.
Block O’Toole & Murphy, LLP is a group of experienced, skilled and compassionate personal injury trial attorneys, who have recovered well over $750 Million through top verdicts and settlements for their clients. The firm has successfully handled many truck accident cases over the years, including a $5,500,000 recovery for a driver who was hurt when a tractor-trailer sideswiped his vehicle, a $3,925,000 settlement for a Good Samaritan who attempted to rescue a trucker who negligently caused his truck to become stuck on a railroad crossing and a $3,000,000 verdict for a client who injured his back after colliding with an 18-wheeler.