Back in June, comedian Tracy Morgan and the passengers riding in his Mercedes-Benz limo bus sustained injuries when they were struck by a Walmart truck. Morgan filed suit against Walmart. One of the passengers sustained fatal injuries, and Morgan’s leg, ribs, and nose were fractured.
The latest development in the Tracy Morgan-Walmart lawsuit has Walmart filing a 28-page response stating that Morgan is responsible for his own injuries because he was not wearing a seatbelt. Walmart’s lawyers said Morgan “acted unreasonably and in disregard of [his] own best interests.”
Negligence in the Tracy Morgan Truck Accident
Walmart’s attorneys may be trying to help the company wriggle out of liability, but there is evidence to support Morgan’s attorney’s claim that Walmart and/or the driver of the Walmart truck acted negligently.
The Walmart truck that struck Morgan’s vehicle was driven by employee Kevin Roper. There are two pieces of information that have been brought to light that suggest negligence on Walmart’s behalf.
- A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board states that the Walmart driver was driving in excess of 20 miles an hour over the speed limit.
- Morgan’s lawyers state in their claim that Roper was awake for more than 24 hours at the time of the accident. Because of the pending investigation, the company is not at liberty to discuss the details. However, a Walmart spokesperson did say that the company believes that Roper "was operating within the federal hours of service regulations."
Morgan’s attorneys state that Roper was acting carelessly and recklessly, behavior which contributed to the accident. In a criminal proceeding, Roper was been charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto. He has pleaded ‘not guilty,’ and was released on $50,000 bond.
What if both parties are at fault?
Walmart has requested a trial by jury. When the case is heard, if the court decides that both parties are partly at fault for the accident, each party will be assigned a percentage of fault, and any settlement would be granted accordingly.
In a shared fault auto accident, the insurance companies or courts go by what’s referred to as a modified negligence rule. This rule states that the injured party can still recover damages from the defendant, so long as the claimant is less than 51 percent at fault. The amount of compensation for damages the injured party receives will be reduced by his or her degree of fault.
In other words, if the courts decide that Morgan is 25 percent at fault for his injuries because he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, the courts will only mandate that Walmart pay Morgan for 75 percent of his damages.
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