Tracy Morgan suing Wal-Mart for truck crash that injured him, others

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The list of plaintiffs suing for the truck-van crash that left actor Tracy Morgan injured reflects suffering beyond just the immediate victims.

Tracy Morgan is going after Wal-Mart in civil court. He's joined by three others in accusing the retailing giant with "gross, reckless, willful, wanton, and intentional conduct," resulting in one of the company's tractor-trailer trucks slamming into a limousine van.

Readers will recall that the smaller vehicle was carrying Morgan and several others home to New York from a comedy club gig in Delaware in June. One of the van passengers was killed in the crash. Morgan and two others suffered serious personal injuries. The plaintiffs in the recently filed suit include Morgan, the two other injury victims and one of the victims' wives.

That this case has sparked a lawsuit should not come as any great surprise to anyone. Morgan spent more than a month in the hospital and a rehabilitation facility. He was only recently discharged from that center and reportedly will continue his recovery from a leg fracture and broken ribs at his home.

Trucker allegedly fell asleep at the wheel

In the days immediately after the crash there were claims that the driver of the Wal-Mart truck had been awake for more than hours before the collision.

An Associated Press report carried by the online edition of the Claims Journal says Federal investigators who looked into the wreck reported several weeks later that the truck was going 65 mph in the seconds before the collision and that the speed limit in the area was 45 mph.

The Wall Street Journal reports that investigators also made the determination that the driver apparently had commuted 11 hours by highway from Georgia to Delaware before climbing behind the wheel of the big rig. And at the time of the crash, he'd been on the job for nearly 14 hours.

Case shows range of victimization

The complaint was filed on behalf of Morgan, Ardley Fuqua, Jeffrey Millea and Krista Millea. It is interesting to note that Krista Millea was not in the van and suffered no direct injury as a result. Her claim reportedly stems from the fact that she was eight months pregnant at the time and that the accident deprived her of her husband's services at a critical time.

At the core of the suit is the allegation that the truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel and that Wal-Mart displayed clear negligence. It says the company should have known that the driver's haul to get to work was "unreasonable" and that his being awake for more than 24 hours presented a danger to the driver and to others on the road.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the suit accuses Wal-Mart of displaying "reckless indifference." because a collision-avoidance system that should have automatically slowed the truck apparently failed.

The suit seeks to present all the case to a jury trial at some point to be determined and says that because of the all the combined elements that Wal-Mart should face both punitive and compensatory damages.

The driver of the truck has been charged with death by auto and assault by auto in connection with the crash. He has pleaded not guilty.

Wal-Mart, reacting to notification of the suit, issued a statement saying that it is cooperating with authorities as the investigation into the crash continues. It says it is committed to "doing the right thing for all involved."

What this case shows is how legally complicated such matters can be. There are so many possible elements and pulling together the facts to present the best possible case requires skill, which is why the help of an experienced attorney should always be enlisted.

Keywords: Truck accidents, driver fatigue, punitive damages, compensatory damages, loss of services