An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that driver fatigue played a major role in the June 2014 accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that left actor Tracy Morgan in a coma and killed fellow comedian James McNair. Morgan suffered a brain injury, as well as broken ribs, a broken nose, and a broken leg. Four other passengers in the limo were also injured.
The driver of the Wal-Mart truck that hit Morgan’s limo had been awake for 28 consecutive hours after driving 12 hours from his home in Georgia and then starting his 14-hour shift at a Wal-Mart facility in Delaware at 11:22 a.m. on June 6. The accident occurred at 12:54 a.m. on June 7, leading the NTSB to cite driver fatigue as the probable cause.
Other Factors Involved
The truck was also speeding, according to the investigation. It was traveling 65 mph in a construction zone near Cranbury, NJ, that had a posted speed limit of 45. The automatic braking system in the Wal-Mart truck was not on, because the driver wasn’t using cruise control, which is required for the system to work.
The NTSB concluded that the accident could have been avoided if the truck driver had been going the speed limit and had hit the brakes when the traffic slowed due to construction. In the limo, the passengers were injured on impact, because they weren’t wearing seatbelts.
Resulting Lawsuits Settled
Morgan settled his lawsuit against Wal-Mart in May 2015 for an undisclosed amount. The retail giant said the two parties had reached an “amicable settlement.” Morgan would say only that Wal-Mart “did right” by him and his family.
Earlier in the year, the family of James McNair received a $10 million settlement after filing a wrongful death suit against Wal-Mart.
Everybody knows traveling can be hazardous. Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show there were 30,057 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2013. In New Jersey, there were 508 fatal accidents with a total of 542 deaths.
New Jersey’s Turnpike is infamous for pile-ups and accidents. Almost a year after Morgan’s crash, famous mathematician John Nash Jr., the subject of the book and movie A Beautiful Mind and his wife Alicia were killed in a wreck on the turnpike.
Under New Jersey law, Morgan and any other driver injured in an accident can sue for negligence. A person is liable for negligence in New Jersey if they have behaved in a manner that puts another person at risk. So if a wreck is caused by a speeding driver, that person is negligent, meaning his actions did not meet the standards expected of a reasonable person.
Talk to DeZao
If you or a member of your family have a question about injuries sustained in an accident and want to discuss a possible case, please contact a New Jersey accident attorney at The Law Offices of James C. DeZao, P.A. Fill out our online form or call us at 1-855-432-2489 for a free consultation.
Our personal injury law office has over 25 years of experience serving the people of New Jersey. If someone else’s negligence has caused you harm, their actions could have long-lasting effects on your life and your recovery — just as Tracy Morgan has discovered. Our goal is to hold responsible parties liable and to recover the largest possible claim for you and your family.