Comedian Tracy Morgan suffered massive injuries earlier this year when a Walmart-owned truck hit his limousine, fatally injuring a fellow comedian, 63-year-old James McNair.
Months after the disaster, the 30 Rock star filed a lawsuit against the Bentonville, Arkansas retailer, claiming Walmart’s truck driver, Kevin Roper, hadn’t slept for 24 hours before the accident. The multi-billion dollar company recently responded to the accusations by arguing that Morgan and McNair’s injuries stemmed in part from their “failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device.” Morgan (and many of his fans and legal observers of this case) reacted with outrage: was Walmart really trying to pass the buck?
Rather than delving into the legal particulars of Morgan’s lawsuit or Walmart’s potential defense options, let’s pull back and consider this case in context. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), truck accidents claim approximately 5,000 lives every year in the United States and cause around 150,000 injuries. When trucks collide with smaller vehicles (like passenger cars and limousines), the results tend to be bad for the smaller cars. When massive vehicles collide with much less massive vehicles, the physics just don’t work out well for the lighter vehicles. Think about it this way — to generate the same amount of force that a 20-ton truck produces when it into a plows into a stationary car at 20 miles per hour, a 400 pound lineback would have to run head first into that car at about 2,000 miles per hour, roughly four times the average speed of a commercial airliner.
Per The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 20,000 people suffer injuries and 750 people die annually as a direct consequence of overly sleepy commercial truck drivers. Commercial drivers are not allowed to drive for more than 10 hours without resting 8 hours. In a 200 study, the FMCSA found that crash risk doubles from the 8th to 10th hour of continuous driving and then doubles yet again from the 10th to 11th hour.
Do you need help understanding your rights or potential avenues to collect compensation after an accident? Call a Washington DC truck accident attorney at Regan, Zambri & Long today.
Sleeplessness isn’t the only thing that can cause fatal distractions. Talking on a cell phone, even hands-free, is not good news: Hands-Free Is Not the Same as Distraction-Free