On June 7, 2014, a Walmart tractor trailer struck the rear of a limousine van, resulting in a multi-car accident. Comedian and actor Tracy Morgan was riding in the van when the impact from the tractor trailer sent the van tumbling down the highway. Several people were injured, and one passenger in the van was killed. In a recent answer to a lawsuit, Walmart has tried to shift some of the blame onto Morgan and the other van passengers. In states like New Jersey and Illinois, this type of blame-shifting strategy can affect the amount of monetary damages that are paid out. If you are injured in an accident in Illinois, you should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney as quickly as possible.
The tragic incident occurred in middle of the night, on a highway near Cranbury, New Jersey. A Walmart tractor trailer rear-ended a large van and several other vehicles, and Emmy-nominated comedian Tracy Morgan was rushed by helicopter to a nearby hospital. Morgan suffered from a broken femur and leg, a broken nose, and several broken ribs. Morgan’s close friend and fellow comedian, James McNair, died in the tragedy.
In a pending lawsuit, Tracy Morgan and three other victims accuse Walmart of violating safety regulations and operating their tractor trailer negligently. According to an interim investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, the Walmart vehicle was traveling at approximately 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. Morgan argues that the driver of the truck was working excessive hours in violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Morgan contends that lack of rest may have been a factor in the collision and that Walmart knew or should have known that its driver was in violation of safety regulations.
Walmart’s driver has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and assault by automobile. Since the driver was working for Walmart at the time, the retail giant may be liable under the legal principle of respondeat superior. This principle states that when an employee injures someone while performing his or her job, the employer can be held responsible for the resulting damages. Respondeat superior is a Latin phrase that means let the master answer.
Soon after the crash, Walmart issued a press statement that seemed apologetic. But in their recent answer to Morgan’s charges, the company pointed a finger of accusation at Morgan and the other passengers. Walmart asserts that Morgan wasn’t wearing his safety belt while riding in the limo van that night and that Morgan was partially responsible for his own injuries.
Walmart’s assertion is important because in negligence cases, New Jersey uses a 51% rule of modified comparative negligence, similar to the one used in Illinois. This rule applies when a victim of negligence has somehow contributed to his or her own injuries. The amount of negligence is calculated by the court, and blame is assigned among the parties involved. The amount of blame is expressed as a percentage, and if the victim is 51% or more responsible, he or she cannot collect monetary damages. If the victim is less than 51% responsible, the damages award is reduced in proportion to the victim’s level of responsibility.
Even if you share part of the blame for your own injuries, you can still collect damages to help with your medical bills, personal expenses, and pain and suffering. In an Illinois injury lawsuit, the other party may attempt to blame you in order to lower the amount they have to pay. That is one reason why you need strong legal representation by an experienced trial attorney. The car accident attorneys at Cavanagh Law Group will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.