Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and fellow passenger Jimmy Mack was killed in a truck accident last Saturday that police suspect may have been caused by driver fatigue. The big rig was owned by Walmart and driven by 35-year-old Kevin Roper, who has since been charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto.
The accident took place on the New Jersey Turnpike around 1am. The tractor trailer collided with Morgan’s limo bus and caused multiple injuries. The cause is still being investigated, but police did report that the truck driver had been awake for more than 24 consecutive hours at the time of the crash, which is a violation of federal regulations.
Mr. Morgan is alive but in critical condition. He sustained broken ribs, a broken nose, broken leg, and a broken femur, among other injuries.
The driver of the limo bus said in a statement that he remembers traffic slowing and then being struck from behind by the tractor-trailer. The truck failed to notice that traffic was slowing, and although he tried to swerve at the last minute, he collided with the rear of the limo bus. This caused a chain reaction involving four other vehicles, but no one else was injured. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that they plan on investigating the incident further.
Less than one year ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – the regulating arm of the trucking industry – implemented stricter Hours of Service rules for truck drivers. These rules added more resting breaks and for longer periods, as well as longer “off duty” hours. For truckers, one workday cannot exceed 14 hours. If the claims about Roper are true, he had gone over the maximum on-duty driving time by at least ten hours.
The FMCSA strictly enforces these rules. Violations could mount up to $11,000 for trucking companies when their drivers exceed Hours of Service limits by more than three hours. Truckers themselves could face nearly $3,000 in fines per offense.
Victims of tractor-trailer accidents such as this one typically sustain severe injuries. A fully loaded commercial truck like this could weigh up to 80,000 pounds – far outmatching the average passenger vehicle in size and in weight. Like Mr. Morgan, many truck accident victims sustain severe and even permanently debilitating injuries such as broken bones, paralysis, and brain trauma.
Anyone involved in this type of accident could potentially pursue legal action to recover financial compensation, compensation that could cover the cost of medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Contact a Kansas City personal injury lawyer at Wendt Law Firm P.C. today if you have such a claim and we’ll provide you with a free consultation.